The BME fabrication laboratory (FabLab) provides a makerspace-style learning environment emphasizing “learning by doing.”
The FabLab exists to enhance and catalyze the education of biomedical engineering seniors and M.Eng. students. The Lab's mission is to guide the students along the engineering process, culminating in the creation of “Fully Functional Proof of Concept Prototypes” of their biomedical devices. For most projects this requires creating a custom solution blending software, electrical and mechanical components.
The facility enables students to accomplish this by:
- supporting the purchase of new tools and equipment as the student’s projects and capabilities evolve and require new tools and additional lab capabilities.
- providing a clean, efficient, professional hospital-like space where tools and safety equipment are always within arm’s reach
- introducing the students to LEAN manufacturing practices and a safety-first environment
- emphasizing “learning by doing” we don’t operate the 3D printers for the students, instead we offer workshops where we train all our students in the operation and troubleshooting of the 3D printers in line with our “learn by doing” culture and to allow the students to experience the potential pitfalls and limitations of modern manufacturing technologies.
- offering workshops in the safe and effective operation of soldering stations where the students are offered hands-on instruction in the art and science of soldering and desoldering required for the fabrication of custom electrical components.
Emphasizing LEAN manufacturing practices aimed at minimizing the idle time of our young engineers while in the shop, the FabLab maintains an extensive inventory of parts: everything from basic wire, tape, electrical components, switches, buttons, motors, connectors, breadboards, jumpers, fasteners, to more sophisticated sensors and transducers facilitating our students to rapidly test their ideas.
In a single afternoon, using only parts on hand, our students have constructed systems to record EMG signals, laser-doppler measurements of blood flow, piezo-electric clips to fix leaky heart valves, artificial muscles, pneumatic syringe pushers, or smart bandages that wirelessly transmit data about the health of diabetic foot wounds.
We have gone to great lengths to equip the lab with a vast array of the modern tools necessary to engineer software, electronic and mechanical components to create solutions for biomedical engineering problems and novel biomedical devices. Highlights include:
- Ultimaker™ plastic-extrusion-type 3d printers that print parts one thread of plastic at a time
- Stereolithographic printers (FormLabs and Autodesk Ember) that use light to cure liquid resin into complicated geometries needed for some advanced biomedical devices and tissue engineering research
Students are trained in modern CAD software (Autodesk Fusion 360) where they can create two dimensional parts for their design projects that can be cut with our 100 Watt Laser Cutter (Most of our projects use Acrylic but the laser cutter is powerful enough to cut ¾” plywood!.)
Metal machining tools
a variety of power saws
Tormach ™ CNC Milling Machine
Students learn to use modern computer aided machining (CAM) packages to program a robotically-controlled milling machine to perform precision part machining and manufacturing.