From Idea to Reality

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 29, 2016 | Go to article overview

From Idea to Reality


Byline: Submitted by the College of Lake County

To create a space where students, designers and innovators can develop 21st century products -- from artificial limbs to remote-controlled drones -- the College of Lake County has unveiled plans for a fabrication lab, or Fab Lab, at the Grayslake Campus.

The 1,875-square-foot lab will consist of two adjacent laboratories in the Technology Wing, one for design and one for construction. A basic version of the lab has already opened to CLC students using existing equipment.

The design Fab Lab will contain the latest engineering design software, such as Inventor, ProE and SolidWorks, in addition to 3-D printers used in creating design prototypes. The design Fab Lab also will feature an Epilog laser cutter, Roland tabletop CNC milling machine, 3-D digital scanner and electronics workbenches.

Other tools include material testing equipment, a vinyl cutter and a vacuum former, which creates a product by heating a sheet of plastic and forcing it into a mold using vacuum pressure.

The construction Fab Lab is designed to have the look and feel of a woodworking shop. Proposed equipment includes a CNC wood router; project workbenches with hand tools; and shop tools such as a drill press, grinder, belt sander, drills and a chop saw.

"To help Illinois to remain competitive in a global economy, Lake County needs a space where students, teachers, entrepreneurs and business people can develop their ideas for the next life-changing products," said Rob Twardock, CLC engineering department chair and coordinator of the project.

"The Fab Lab also will allow innovators to collaborate and share ideas with others in a worldwide network."

The lab's primary users will be CLC students in fields such as such as engineering, engineering technology, computerized numerical control, machine tool trades, computer aided design, architecture, art and mechatronics, Twardock said. Presently, two 3-D printers have been added temporarily to the construction Fab Lab, allowing students in an engineering graphics class to create plastic design prototypes.

"Today's students crave real-world engineering projects," said Jan Edwards, a CLC engineering professor, who is designing the lab with Twardock. "The Fab Lab will allow students to obtain practical design experience early in their programs. In an open lab setting, they will be able to design, fabricate and test their projects, as well as use a variety of equipment that will add to their resumes. …

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