About the NextCorps Fabrication Lab
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a three-dimensional prototype must be worth a million, especially when it comes to presenting an early iteration of a product or device to potential customers, partners, manufacturers and/or investors.
Now, clients of NextCorps have a convenient way to produce early-stage prototypes: the NextCorps Fabrication Lab (or FabLab), which features 3-D printers, a 3-D scanner, a laser cutter, computer workstations, and a large assortment of hand tools.
Funded by a grant from the Max and Marion Farash Charitable Foundation, the FabLab enables NextCorps clients to take a major first step toward the commercialization of their products with the creation of an early prototype “that will greatly improve their ability to assess a product’s usability and appeal to potential customers,” says Lab director Mike Riedlinger, NextCorps’s program manager of technology commercialization.
Potential customers, investors and partners can hold a prototype in their hands and get a literal sense of how it will feel and work, which is far better than a written or spoken description, and much more realistic than a drawing.
Industrial designers from BZDesign will help with setup for these machines for NextCorps members who are interested in bringing their ideas to life, as well as offer guidance and advice on how to create exactly what the user needs. The equipment will have a very reasonable pricing scale, letting users build their first prototypes for a lower cost, but more refined models on the highest quality settings for an increased cost. This means that users can test their ideas for a relatively low investment, saving time and money down the road by proving out their designs ahead of time.
What will you find in the FabLab? For starters, an Epilog Zing laser cutter, Stratasys F170 FDM 3D printer, Gen 6 Makerbot Replicators and FormLabs Form 2 SLA Printers. The FabLab’s 3-D printers utilize various PLA and ABS polymer resins in the form of filaments on a reel or spool. The process is additive as the printer head, following precise specifications from the CAD program, flies back and forth applying 100 micron layers of the resin, one layer at a time, as the prototype takes shape. Given the layering process, it may take several hours or longer to create a prototype. The output can be solid or a shell and the resins are available in a wide variety of colors. The printers can produce parts or assemblies of parts as large as 10” x 8” x 6”. The various hand tools the FabLab stocks are useful for putting parts together, cutting away excess material and other operations.
Users can develop their designs on the FabLab’s CAD programs or they can bring in their own finished program.
Principal, BZ Design
The designers from BZDesign will be available for training sessions and assistance Mondays and Wednesdays 1-3PM in the Fabrication Lab at NextCorps.