A fab lab functions to teach students to think critically, problem solve, plan, design and create using a number of computer-operated procedures. The best fab labs teach relevant skills using authentic industrial equipment and materials.
1. 3D Printer
The best fab labs will have a 3D printer capable of printing in a wide array of materials, including plastics, composites and metals. Here are a few printers we recommend:
- Markforged MarkTwo: It comes with Eiger software compatible with STL files from any CAD/CAM program. Markforged’s line of industrial and Metal X printers are widely used by industry, giving your students access to a classroom-friendly 3D printer that is a cut above the rest.
- Levil EDUMill: This is a CNC mill + 3D printer all in one. Students learn how to print in various materials, including metal, then they can turn around and machine the parts they’ve printed.
- Xact Metal XM200C: This metal 3D printer uses precision laser technology to build your part layer-by-layer without the need for post-processing. It’s also time and space-efficient – great for labs with limited footprint.
2. Injection Molding
Additive manufacturing is a key component to fab lab requirements, so injection molding is a must-have in addition to your 3D printer. We recommend:
A world-class fab lab will have a robotics component that combines engineering and programming. We recommend:
- ERIK, the Educational Robotics Invention Kit from LJ Create. With multiple design options, ERIK teaches students to work with intelligent servo motors, sensors, a programmable controller and a range of construction parts.
- Intro to Robotics Package from FANUC: The set features 6 permanent seats of ROBOGUIDE software and a teach pendant that can connect to a computer. Students can program and operate simulated versions of the world’s most-used industrial robot brand.
4. Precision Measurement
A fundamental skill, precision measuring will add to any process performed in your fab lab. We suggest:
- Amatrol’s Measurement Tools Learning System: This kit introduces principles of measurement using both the U.S. customary system and S.I. metric system. Students will learn a variety of skills including basic and precision measurement, direct and indirect gauging, and dimensional measurements.
- The Amatrol Portable Measurement Tools Learning System: Learn the same concepts as the regular system with the added convenience of a portable, easy-to-store kit.
- The Basic Precision Measurement Kit from DAC Worldwide: This kit covers valuable industrial QA skills using precision rules, dial calipers, micrometers, and other common precision measurement tools and instruments.
5. CNC Router
A compact 3 axis CNC Router will be the perfect fit for your lab. Here are a few we recommend, all from Denford:
- The Compact 1000 Pro: This model is great for a smaller footprint lab. It’s capable of cutting a range of materials including hard and soft wood, plastic, modeling foam, acrylic and prototyping materials, and non-ferrous metals.
- The 2600 Pro Router: This router has a larger capacity and can cut the same materials as the Compact 1000 Pro. In addition, the Router 2600 Pro can cut non-ferrous metals.
- The Router 6600 / 6600 Pro: This is the largest and most high-speed router available from Denford, available at an exceptional price for fab labs. This router can cut the same materials as the 2600 Pro Router.
6. CNC Milling Machine
Having a CNC mill is essential to teaching your fab lab students the basics of computer numerical control technology. We suggest a few different options; each has its own unique features that could help your fab lab stand out:
- Denford CNC Micromill: This is a compact 3 axis milling machine that fits right on your tabletop. It comes equipped with VR CNC milling operating software. The variable spindle speeds and feedrates make it ideal for cutting resistant materials such as wax, plastic, acrylic, aluminum and free cutting alloys.
- Levil EDUMill: We mentioned this machine already in the 3D printing section, which is why this machine is such a great option for fab labs. On the milling side, the EDUMill comes with a FANUC CNC control, so your students are learning to program and operate on the same control being used by the majority of industrial employers today.
- Denford CNC Micromill Microturn Duo: This innovative machine is a side-by-side mill and lathe. It’s ideal for proving student designs and for producing small components in materials such as wax, plastic, acrylic and free-cutting alloys.
Programmable Logic Controllers are essential in any digital fab lab, and you’ll want a sturdy yet portable model. Here are a few we recommend:
- Amatrol’s Portable PLC Trainers: These PLC systems come with a choice of Allen-Bradley or Siemens controls. controller (PLC) programming, operation and applications used throughout industry. Despite its compact, convenient size, these portable systems feature highly-interactive multimedia curriculum that teaches 90 skills across 14 different modules.
- APT PLC HMI Trainer: This portable, tabletop system features a Rockwell PLC/HMI and can be used to teach basic industrial programming skills on its own. It also has the capability to be used with a number of other industrial technologies, helping students learn about connected systems.
Virtual reality is a great way to introduce students to welding in a safe, controlled environment. Plus, using VR makes it easy to offer introductory welding in your fab lab without worrying about space, exhaust, fumes, or other concerns that might impact others using the space. Here are a few virtual welders we recommend for your fab lab:
- Miller MobileArc: This is an affordable, easy to use welding simulation tool designed to attract, engage and introduce students to welding through a hands-on augmented reality experience. The kit includes a specially-designed helmet, weld gun, coupons and mobile screen for tracking weld movement and data.
- Lincoln Electric’s VRTEX Engage: This is the most foundational welding trainer. The simulated experience introduces students to the concept of arc welding, all within a highly compact and portable suitcase-style unit. Students as young as elementary and middle school can start learning to weld on the VRTEX Engage system.
- Lincoln Electric VRTEX 360: This system provides the most in-depth and advanced welding simulation available. With a variety of tools and a comprehensive virtual reality experience students can engage with the fundamentals of welding in a unique environment.
- Miller AugmentedArc: This is a state of the art virtual welder that uses augmented reality to teach users welding skills. This trainer provides a realistic simulation for learners to practice and receive instant feedback, all in a safe environment.
Let’s Build Your Wish List!
As professional educational consultants, we’d be happy to help personalize your fab lab with just the right equipment for your needs. Contact us for one-on-one assistance!