Absolutely fabbable

If you browse around sites like Thingiverse, you’ll see lots of stuff that is experimental, probably useless, gadgety, geeky — but sometimes some things that are quite cool and maybe even relevant and useful. (!)
Design-for-Disassembly and Design-for-Repair just doesn’t exist in today’s industrial landscape, but sometimes people are designing their own spare parts, for instance.

Replacement Fan Knob. Photo source: www.thingiverse.com/thing:32658

What is distinct about fabbable stuff, to me, is their aesthetics, which is dictated by the medium of digital fabrication. A ‘good’ design for the laser cutter doesn’t use glue, for example: the pieces should just press fit together. This is a popular design that Anu was able to print without changes.

Pen Holder. Photo source: www.thingiverse.com/thing:26277

I especially like the design of the joint. That ‘living hinge’ (forming the curved sides) is also a popular thing to play with, and its aesthetic really reads ‘fab lab’ to me. I prefer these kinds of fixed box solutions, since the hinge can so easily break if it is expected to move regularly.

Here an Aalto student used it to make a box for a device whose light can change colour depending on what colour it is sitting on.

student project sensor
Sensor prototype. Photo source: www.flickr.com/photos/aaltofablab/8118589583/in/photostream

And here the laser cutter aesthetic is used to nice effect on a paper city.

student project city
City light show circuit prototype. Photo source: www.flickr.com/photos/aaltofablab/8119102999/in/photostream

These photos are taken from the Aalto Fab Lab Flickr stream, which you can see here. This is the basic form of documentation for all Fab Lab users, especially on Open Days. Anu is working on improving the whole documentation workflow, so that all users can actually benefit from and improve upon previous users’ designs, but for now the Lab camera can send the photo directly to the Flickr stream. Then you can e.g. take a picture of the laser cutter settings for the next person who might be using the same material as well as document the phases and final results.

settings screenshot
Laser cutter settings. Photo source: www.flickr.com/photos/aaltofablab/8138699902/in/photostream

It’s been a big challenge for Fab Labs for years, the documenting and sharing of user results, but as more and more Fab Labs come online the more useful it is to have a common database. Until that point, makers will continue to use Thingiverse and Instructables.

It’s been a fun month to blog, and thanks to the readers for following along! Happy fabbing!