Fab Lab collage

The Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab is a small-scale workshop for computer-based innovation, design and fabrication. The Fab Lab allows you to dream up, design and make almost anything you can imagine using open source software and DIY equipment.

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Summer Activities Teen Open Lab at the Urbana Free Library Flickr group

Obama Mentions 3D Printing in State of the Union Address

A little over a year ago, 3D printing was a funky new technology that you might find at modestly sized booths in the basement level of the Las Vegas Convention Center at CES. Recently, President Obama mentioned it in the same breath as Apple and Intel during his State of the Union address, while talking about ways to create new jobs and manufacturing in the United States.

Read more on CNET:

Barack Obama gives the State of the Union Address

It's just a little earie...

Lawrence Bonassar and others have developed methods to 3d print human ears using actual live cartelidge mixture that congealed into an ear in 15 minutes. They tested it on rats and the ears were found to retain their shape and usability after a year and integrate into the rats. There is a  potential for medical breathroughs but also the danger of abuse and misuse (looking at you Hollywood, and maybe Russia) but it leaves us feeling a bit earie


Cornell Prof 3D Prints Human Ear

Will houses in the future be built with 3D printers?

Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis has been doing research into using 3D printing technology to solve world problems, particularly housing in emergency situations and low-income environments. Watch the video and learn where home-construction might be going in the not-too-distant future.

More information:


3D printing buildings

3D Printing in Education - An Infographic

An infographic about 3D printing in education and related areas. Click to see the full version.

Possibly of Interest: paper on algorithms for computing support structures for 3D printing

I ran across this paper that explains one way to calculate support structures for 3D printing. 


I found it relatively clear and easy to understand.

Of course, there are more than one way to skin this cat, so this isn't necessarily the way any given software works.

Reminder: We have Sewing Machines, come use them!

Just a friendly reminder that the Fab Lab has 6 sewing and knitting machines of various sorts as well as unusual fabrics, like conductive and heat-reactive material. Come over and make good use of them in their new exapandable location in the break room.


Open Challenge: Decorate the Fab Lab, win free credit

We could use more patron-created art up on our walls. Anyone who provides us with some sizable art (or even interactive creations!) to put up will not only get mad props but also 5$ worth of material or laser time, courtesy of Jeff Ginger.

Photo credit to Gemma Petrie.

3D Printing with a Pen!

Have you ever just wished you could lift your pen off the paper and see your drawing become a real three dimensional object? The folks at WobbleWorks have created a 3D printer pen to do just this. Check it out:


Saturday Fablab for February

Do you know what thermoplastics, edible materials, metal and titanium alloys, ceramic powders, plaster, paper, metal foil, plastic film, photopolymers, and liquid resins all have in common? They can all be used to print 3D objects. While the printers at the Champaign Urbana Community Fablab and the Urbana Free Library can only print using ABS plastic, there are commercial printers that can use all of the materials listed above. There are even companies that will print what you want, in whatever material you want. All you have to do is provide them with a 3D file of the object you would like to have printed.

Laser Engraver

When I was first told about the laser engraver I was told that I should always bring a PDF document to print. While looking through the epilogue website I see that you are supposed to be able to print in any format. Has anyone ever printed anything besides a PDF document? Would we have to set up the computer to do something different if we want to use a different file format? I am interested in printing some things that were drawn in autocad but am having a lot of trouble converting them to PDFs. I have scaling issues, and sometimes the drawings are just messed up once converted. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.



Creation Space at the Urbana Free Library

The Creation Tech program at The Urbana Free Library has begun! 

There will be a series of workshops in February and March.  Check it out.


Open Challenge: Broken Makerbot

Ever since we got our new UP! 3D printer our old Makerbot 3D printer has been sitting on a shelf collecting dust. We benched it because we never got it to print successfully for more than 20-30 minutes at a time and never could figure out what the problem really was with the extruder.

If you're feeling adventurous come in and see if you can fix it! We'll give you unlimtied time with it (during open hours) and as much ABS plastic as you need for it. Should you manage to fix it we'll figure out some kind of prize.

Website Security Update

I've updated several modules and the core files of the Drupal install. The good news is that this should cut down on the spam messages we've been all suffering. The bad news is that this may have set your user navigation links back to their defaults.

Selam Alem - "Hello World" - The Amharic Alphabet on the Laser Cutter

I wanted to be able to make Amharic letters and phrases quickly on the Epilog laser cutter.  Cutting a path is always faster than rastering an image, so I downloaded the Fidel, and then modified in Inkscape to create letter stencils.  These characters were modified such that "loops" (as in an "a" or "b") do not fall out when cut with the laser, but remain attached with a thin filament.  Thus, letters and phrases can be cut out rapidly in wood, cardboard or acrylic, and used as signage or for a stencil.

Hello World (Selam Alem)
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