What is Fab Lab?

Fab Lab West Bromwich has a whole range of state-of-the-art digital manufacturing equipment, including 3D printers, precision laser cutters and moulding and milling equipment, through to electronic components, circuit boards, soldering irons and glue guns.

Before using our equipment you will need to complete a health and safety induction, which takes place at 2pm every Monday and Wednesday. You do not need to book, simply aim to be here on time and we can take it from there.

Booking

Our equipment can be booked (for free!) every Monday and Wednesday from 2 till 5pm. All we ask is that you pay for your own materials and share your makes via our project section.

You can also hire our equipment – or even the whole Fab Lab – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Just speak to a member of the Fab Lab team about our rates.

Equipment List

Ultimaker 2 3D Printer

The Ultimaker 2 has the quickest build time of any of our 3D printers.

What can you make on a 3D printer?

A 3D printer will make items in plastic, for example: a clip to hold a wire in place, or a prototype for a new product you are developing – which you want to see before committing to buying expensive tooling – or even a model of you!

Material: ABS and PLA plastic

Build Volume: 23 x 22.5 x 20.5cm

Print Speed: 30mm/s – 350mm/s

File Format: STL

Hourly Rate (excluding open days): Speak to our team. The 3D printer is not bookable. All jobs are done on a first come first served basis.

For more inspiration, why not have a look at some other websites like thingiverse.com to see what other people have made? You can download items from there and get them printed at the Fab Lab. Sometimes it only costs a few pence or a pound or two, depending on size.

ultimaker

Commercial 3D Printer

Our commercial 3D printer has a large build capacity, giving you the room to print large functional, durable models with moving parts.

What can you make on the commercial 3D printer?

You can make everything you can on a normal 3D printer, but the commercial printer has a temperature controlled enclosed environment, which means the layers adhere better, so mechanically the parts are stronger. It also has a separate material it uses as a support medium during printing, which can be dissolved off afterwards. This means we can print parts with overhangs, or items with loose parts all in one, for example a bearing.

Model: Dimension 1200es Series 3D Printer

Material: ABS plastic

Max Build Size: 254mm x 254mm x 304.8mm

Max Thickness: 0.25mm

File Format: STL

Hourly Rate (excluding open days): Speak to our team.

The 3D printer is not bookable. All jobs are done on a first come first served basis.

Equipment_Commercial 3D Printer_cropped

Large Format Printer

Print high quality large format prints up to A0 using our HP Designject printer.

Model: HP Designjet T520

Paper Types: Bond and coated paper (bond, coated, heavyweight coated, recycled, plain, bright white), technical paper (natural tracing, vellum), film (clear, matte), photographic paper (satin, gloss, semigloss, premium, polypropylene), self-adhesive (adhesive, polypropylene)

Paper Weight: 60 to 280 g/m² (roll/manual feed); 60 to 220 g/m² (input tray)

Paper Size: Input tray: 210 x 279 to 330 x 482 mm; manual feed: 330 x 482 to 914 x 1897 mm; roll: 279 to 914 mm

Handling: Sheet feed; roll feed; input tray; automatic cutter

Price List (per sheet):

A0 (841mm x 1189mm) 90 gsm = £7 130 gsm = £10
A1 (594mm x 841mm) 90 gsm = £4 130 gsm = £6
A2 (420mm x 594mm) 90 gsm = £2 130 gsm = £3
A3 (297mm x 420mm) 90 gsm = £1 130 gsm = £1.50

 

The large format printer is not bookable. All jobs are done on a first come first served basis.

large-format-printer

Laser Cutter

The Epilog laser is a laser cutting machine and also has a very powerful raster mode for engraving and etching designs.

What can you make with a laser cutter?

A laser cutter will cut or engrave a variety of materials, so you can make:

  • Paper and card cut outs for card making, or templates
  • Cardboard boxes or fancy tags
  • Plywood pictures or boxes
  • Acrylic signs

Model: Epilog Mini 24 Laser Cutter

Materials (Cutting): most materials except metals

Materials (Engraving): most materials including glass and anodised aluminium

Max Engraving Area: 610mm x 305mm

Max Material Thickness: 203mm

File Format: any vector design in PDF format

Hourly Rate (excluding open days): £25/hr

Book Now
laser-cutter

Desktop Miller

The Monofab SRM 20 is a versatile all-in-one desktop 3D and milling device, perfect for model and jewellery making, creating moulds, creating circuit boards and rapid prototyping.

What can you make with the Monofab?

The main reason we have the Monofab is because it can cut circuit boards, from a black and white .bmp image.

It can also mill 3D shapes for art projects, or jewellery or injection moulding.

Model: Roland Monofab SRM 20 Desktop Miller

Materials: Jeweller’s wax, resins, chemical wood, acrylic, light metals such as brass and aluminium

Max Work Piece Size: 203.2mm x 152.4mm x 60.5mm

Max Material Thickness: 70 mm

File Format: any vector design in PDF format

Hourly Rate (excluding open days): £25 /hr

Book Now
desktop-miller

Vinyl Cutter

The vinyl cutter is designed for the fast cutting of light flexible materials and can be used to make signs, t-shirt transfers, stickers, masks and flexible circuit boards.

What can you make with a vinyl cutter?

There are different types of vinyl. We have some in stock for making stickers and t-shirts.

Model: Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter 02

Materials: vinyl, paint mask, reflective vinyls, twill, heat transfer, sandblast. At the moment we have limited types of vinyl in stock. If you wish to do something particular, please check beforehand that we have the colour and type of vinyl you want in stock.

Material Size: from 50.8mm to 698.5mm wide

File Format: SVG, PDF

Hourly Rate (excluding open days): £25 /hr

Book Now
vinyl-cutter

CNC Router

Our CNC router can be used to make furniture, large 3D moulds and architectural models.

What can you make with a Shopbot?

You can make furniture on the Shopbot. Why not have a look at websites like opendesk.cc where you can download files of furniture to make on the Shopbot?

You can make house signs. You can easily type the name or number in of your house and make your very own custom sign.

You can make large sculptures. The Shopbot can sculpt a shape in 3D up to a depth of 5mm (6”). If you want one bigger then you can sandwich the pieces together!

Model: ShopBot CNC Router

Material: wood, foam, aluminium, acrylic

Max Material Size: 1.22m x 2.44m x 0.15m

File Format: DXF, PDF, STL

Hourly Rate (excluding open days): £50/hr

Book Now
cnc-router

HTC Vive Virtual Reality

HTC Vive Virtual Reality headset. See the world in virtual reality:

  • Experience games as never before,
  • Paint in thin air with Google Tilt Brush.
  • Fly over the world with Google Earth

A real experience not to be missed!

Hourly rate: £6 per hour. £1 per 10 min.

Book Now

Tools & Materials

At Fab Lab we have a range of tools and machines for our visitors to use free of charge and there’s no need to book!

Workshop Tools & General Workbench

  • Scroll Saw
  • Handsaws
  • Handtools
  • Glue guns

Electronics Workbench

  • Wide variety of surface mount components including micro-controllers, sensors and actuators
  • DC Power supply, function generator, oscilloscope, multimeters
  • Soldering stations

Moulding & Casting

  • Catalytic moulding of silicon, rubbers, plastics, plasters, composites
  • Curing oven

We also have a range of materials available for you to purchase directly from us, as well as off-cuts of various materials, which can be used free of charge.

A few of the materials we regularly have in stock are plywood, MDF, acrylic, vinyl, machinable wax, 3D printer cartridges (PLA or ABS and soluble support), but just give us a call to see if we have what you need.

FAQs

How do I get to use the machines?

If you turn up during our open afternoons you can use the machines once you have completed a health and safety induction.

Machine time can only be booked once you have completed a health and safety induction.

What is an open afternoon?

At Fab Lab we currently run open afternoons every Monday and Wednesday, 2 – 5pm. This basically means you can come in and use the Lab… for free! We’ll give you access to all of our equipment, including our range of 3D printers (we have a few!).

All we ask is that you attend a safety induction. We run safety inductions Monday and Wednesday at 2pm – there’s no need to book just turn up and we’ll do the rest. Everyone is welcome but if you’re under 16 you need to be supervised by an adult. We look forward to seeing you soon.

What is the Fab Lab Charter?

Fab Labs are a global network, enabling invention by providing open access for individuals to manufacturing equipment and digital fabrication facilities. Everyone using Fab Lab, regardless of age, ability or what you are making, must abide by our charter:

Access

You can use the Fab Lab to make almost anything. The Fab Lab’s highly-trained staff are on hand to offer support and guidance but the emphasis is on you to learn how to make things yourself. You must also share use of the Lab with other users.

Responsibility

You are responsible for:

  • Safety: knowing how to work without hurting people or damaging machines
  • Cleaning up: leaving the Lab cleaner than you found it
  • Operations: assisting with maintaining, repairing, and reporting on tools, supplies, and any incidents

Education

Training in the Fab Lab is based on doing projects and learning from peers. Unless you are a commercial user, you are expected to share your ideas and to document your Fab Lab experience by uploading your project to our Project Forum.

Secrecy

Designs and processes developed in the Fab Lab must remain available for individual use, although intellectual property can be protected however you choose.

Business

Commercial activities can be incubated in Fab Labs, however they must not conflict with open access and should grow beyond, rather than within, the Lab. They are expected to benefit the inventors, Labs and networks that contribute to their success.

What software should I use?

The aim of Fab Lab is to have open access for all, therefore we use freeware software to create files in the Lab. Anyone can download and learn to use these programs at home for free. For 2D Design we use Inkscape and for 3D design Google Sketch-Up. You can also use your own preferred software as long as files are saved in the correct format.

2D Design files = PDF/DXF (with vector data not picture data, e.g. illustrator file not photoshop)

3D Design files = STL

Do you provide materials?

We stock a small amount of acrylic, MDF and plywood in various sizes and thickness, all of which can be purchased in the Lab on the day. Please note that stock levels do vary and you should call ahead to check we have the material in stock if your job depends on it. You are also more than welcome to bring your own material with you as long as it is machinable, e.g only laserable MDF can be used on the laser cutter. Normal MDF will not cut correctly.

I’ve got an idea for a commercial product; can you help me make it?

Yes we can, but it is not a free service*.

At Fab Lab we offer a professional prototyping service during the week when we don’t have public open times. We have a small skilled team with qualifications and experience in mechanical engineering, product design and electronics. We use our own in house digital fabrication machines to tackle a wide variety of projects. If you are interested in making a commercial prototype at Fab Lab please contact us to arrange a meeting.

* Please be aware although Fab Lab is a non-profit project, prototyping services and machine hire are revenue making in order to enable us to run our free public open days every week.

Why should I pay to use the prototyping service if I can use the Lab free on open afternoons?

There are two main differences to be aware of when using the Lab during an open afternoon:

Firstly, everything made in the Lab must be written up and posted in the project area of our website. All details of the project must be disclosed along with attached design files and machine settings. This supports our goal of creating an open-innovation environment in which users can learn from each other. If you are looking to commercialise a new product idea this full disclosure open-source condition may jeopardise your chance at IP (intellectual property) protection.

Secondly, on open days all project work is done by you. With the aid of tutorials and past projects you are required to teach yourself to use the necessary machines and software packages without dedicated staff time. You will also need to fit your work around other users in the Lab, and as part of our fair-use policy you will only have access to one slot on each machine, per day.