- West Contra Costa Unified School District
- Fab Lab Richmond Information
Return to HeadlinesA laser cutter performs two major functions: rastering and vectoring. Rastering involves marking the surface of a material with intense heat through the use of the images’ pixels. It’s similar to printers where it prints on a page from top to bottom. Vectoring involves cutting at a high frequency completely through a piece of material. It will start at one point of your image, leave the laser on and continue on the line, tracing the entire image while following a tool path. Materials you can use for this machine vary from wood, glass, stone, plastic, or even metal. Software used: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, Inkscape
Fab Lab Richmond’s Capabilities and Equipment
Physically a Fab Lab is an advanced digital fabrication laboratory that consists of a suite of fabrication and rapid prototyping machines. The impact of a Fab Lab, however, goes well beyond the machines it contains. Fab Labs allow people to explore the entire engineering design process in authentic and real world contexts by providing tools that enable people to go from concept to drawing and models to prototype to redesign to final product. Fab Labs provide the opportunity for people with little technological expertise to develop highly complex inventions using technology previously only available to engineers at major companies.
Our Fab Lab’s current machines, how we use them, and related software:
This machine begins by first designing a 3D model from a specialized modeling software. The geometric information from the digital model is then computed into instructions for tool paths. Plastic filament is loaded onto the back of the machine and is pulled in by a motor. The plastic goes through a heating element where it melts to a certain degree and finally squirts out from a nozzle to form your 3D model. Software used: 123D Design, Cura, Google Sketchup, Rhino, Tinkercad
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Router:
Think of this machine as a typical wood router. What makes this machine unique though is that it will input commands from your computer-aided design or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software and order itself to cut or carve out any 2D/3D shapes you design. It’s a variety of rotating metal bits that runs on a high revolutions per minute to manipulate a number of relatively soft materials (woods, plywood, plastic, etc.). Software used: VCarve Pro
Our well equipped electronics workbench includes soldering stations and a milling machine which mills ABS, acrylic, woods, plaster, styrene foam, chemical wood, modeling wax, and light metals such as aluminum, brass, and copper.
Vinyl cutters are an essential machine for graphic designing. Students use their design skills to manipulate photos, shapes, and other images to create vinyl adhesives. First, a large roll of specifically colored vinyl is loaded onto the back of the machine. After the design is uploaded to the machine, a small blade cuts out the desired shapes from the roll. Lastly, the students peel away the backing and properly install it onto a desired material (windows, walls, etc.). Software used: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, Inkscape
Specific machine models are listed below: