Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

FAQ

For questions about the CU Community Fab Lab organization see our page for the press.

General Questions

Wait, what is a Fab Lab again? A space and organization that helps people come up with new ideas, solve problems and make things. It looks a lot like a modern day inventor’s workshop. At our lab we spend a lot of time teaching people how to use design software and advanced digital tools. Just look at our pictures to see what the lab looks like, who uses it and what they make.

Who is the Fab Lab for? Does it cost money? The Fab Lab is free and open to anyone in the community. This includes University of Illinois students, staff and faculty, but also artists, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, parents and really anyone else from the community who is interested in making. There are no fees or memberships (open lab is free!), but we do charge for materials at-cost. Some formal workshops may have fees and summer camps are priced to be competitive with local Park District rates.

Do I need to make an appointment? When are you open? No appointment is needed to visit the lab during our open hours. If you have a large group or would like to visit at a different time, please schedule a workshop or lab rental or ask about a tour.

Where can I park? There are meters to the north around a circle drive and to the south in the parking adjacent. Parking is $1 per hour and free after 5pm in the south lot. Make sure to feed the meter, tickets are $20-25!

How do I start my own Fab Lab? We’ve put together some resources to help you get started with this.

I represent a community organization. How can I schedule a workshop or partner with you? Please email CommunityFabLab@gmail.com or talk to a staff member to learn more about our process of collaboration.

What’s your policy on weapons? The Fab Lab complies with the campus-wide policy about possession of weapons. This includes dangerous knives and air soft guns in use without eye protection. We will not 3D print or otherwise fabricate any kind of part for use in actual functional weaponry.

Can I drop my kids off at the Fab Lab? We do not permit unsupervised children under the age of 14 in the lab. Teens high school age and up who have participated in a past Fab Lab camp or workshop series can work independently with parent consent. Parents don’t need to actually participate in activities with their children, they just need to be present. Our lab is not equipped for care of infants (changing stations, safe/clean floors). These facilities can be found in the ACES library across the street, however. 

Help in the Lab

Where do I start? Who do I talk to? We suggest you begin by talking to a staff person or volunteer. They will give you a short introduction or tour and help you get started on a project. You can also visit our get started page to find tutorials and example creations to give you inspiration.

Can I use ____ tool? Does it cost anything? Most tools or work areas are available for general use and have a small use fee associated with them, ranging from $1-5. Visiting the lab itself, as well as the computers and spare scrap materials, are free.

Where is the bathroom? In the electronics room (the door nearest the laser) there is a set of stairs up to a door.  Go out that door and up the stairs to the bathroom. Accessible bathrooms can be located across the street at the ACES library.

What forms of payment do you accept? We currently can accept cash, check, credit card as well as UIUC unit account numbers. We cannot charge UIUC student accounts.

Can I leave my project-in-progress somewhere in the Fab Lab? Yes, you may store it in the basement. Put your name on it. If you don’t resume work on it within 2 weeks it may be donated, discarded or recycled.

How can I get involved with the CU Community Fab Lab as a volunteer? Do you have memberships? We don’t have memberships, but we do have core volunteers with additional access privileges. Visit the lab several times, complete a project or two and then inquire about volunteering – just talk to one of our staff members.