FAQs

How do I get to use the machines?

  • Machine time can only be booked once you have completed a health and safety induction
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What time are the health and safety inductions?

  • Inductions take place on both Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30am and 12:30pm. There is no need to book just aim to be here on time or you might miss it.
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How do I book time on the machines?

  • Once you have completed your H&S induction you will sign up to become a registered user. You can then book time on our machines via our website by logging in using your own login information. Login information will be e-mailed to you within 5 days of registering at Fab Lab.
     
    Bookings can be made up to 2 weeks in advance but only morning slots are bookable (first 4 hours). Afternoon slots are given on a first-come, first-serve basis to people in the lab on the day.
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How do I learn how to use the machines?

  • We have a number of tutorials which help you set up your files.
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What software should I use?

  • The aim of Fab Lab is to make machinery and design tools available for all. Therefore we use freeware programs; however you can use your preferred software as long as files are saved in the correct format.
     
    2D files should be saved as PDF eg laser cutter files          Fab Lab uses Inkscape
    3D files should be saved as STL eg 3D Printer models        Fab Lab uses Google Sketch-Up
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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 materials with you as long as they are machinable.
     
    e.g Only laserable MDF can be used on the laser cutter, normal MDF will not cut correctly.

 

How much does it cost to use the lab on an open day?

  •  The lab is free to use for all registered users, you only pay for your materials*.
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  • *We try to keep usable off-cuts in the lab, which are available for free
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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 (Tuesday-Wednesday). 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 
     
    * 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 would I pay to use the prototyping service if I can use the lab for free on open days?

  • There are 2 main differences to be aware of when using the lab on an open day:
     
    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.