The Mobile Fab Lab has been stimulating creativity in the minds of students and area educators in Bucks County since October 2019 and will continue to take STEAM on the road throughout the 2020 school year. Dr. Lindsey Sides and her team from the Bucks County IU did a wonderful job designing a mobile fabrication laboratory with grant money from the PA Smart Initiative. I had a chance to sit with Dr. Sides, discuss partnership opportunities and take a few pictures to share with our Manufacturing Alliance membership. Here is what I found
The initial grant was designed to reach middle school kids throughout Bucks County in their classrooms so the equipment had to be modular and allow it to fit through the doorways at most area schools and be transported to/from these schools by a talented team of educators (that don’t have a CDL). As you can see, the vehicle branding is appealing and hits the mark with who’s minds they are trying to stimulate. I’m over 55 years old and I’m already captivated.
This, believe it or not, is a CNC Router from ShopBot. Remember, the equipment has to fit through classroom doors. The 36” bed can do cutting, drilling and carving operations on wood, MDF, plastics, foams, vinyl, and aluminum. It’s handles XYZ Movement: 38” x 25” x 5.5” and has a cutting speed of 4 inches/second. All CNC programming is done by the students using design software running on more than 20 computer tablets…all included with the mobile Fab Lab.
CO2 Laser Cutting Machine
Yes, this is a CO2 Laser Cutter from Epilog. It has a companion HVAC system that travels with the laser cutter (in the wood cabinet behind the cutter). The mobile carts were all custom built to roll easily on/off the Fab Lab, into classrooms and into a secure storage facility in Doylestown. This legend series laser equipment is built to do high quality engraving and cutting of wood, acrylics, plastics, stone and yes, some thin metals. It too networks (USB & Wirelessly) with the tablets and the students do the 3D design, programming and running of their own projects.
Robotic Programming on 3 Types of Robots
Robotic programming is already a hit with all age groups. There are 24 Steri Balls, a bunch of Cubelet Robot blocks and Ozobots that can all sense, think and act out commands as dictated by the programmer…the students. Yes, they are not industrial robots…the grant was limited and larger robots are expensive. So, it is a great start. The goal is to engage the thinkers and makers in the crowd, dispel the myths parents have about manufacturing and perhaps introduce the future generation to what manufacturing can mean to them.
You also see two 3D printers. Sorry, I did not get the details about them.
The Fab Lab Comes to BCCC in April
So in our conversations, we agreed to have an Open House on April 18th for all of you as well as Parents, and their 7th-12th grade students. The Bucks County Community College is breaking ground on a brand new Advanced Manufacturing facility at their Bristol Campus and we are working with Susan Herring, Jim Sell and their team to get everyone on a similar page in regards to the need for a more skilled workforce. Mark your calendars, more to come on this as we work through some details.
Thank you Dr. Lindsey Rutherford Sides and the team at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit for doing what you do! And thank you to Susan Cloran of M&S Grinding for your ongoing guidance and support of this program. Your outreach to Manufacturer’s many months ago helped to make this all a reality.
PS…If you want to help support this effort, The Fab Lab needs your help to continue what was started. I can send you a flyers with those details. Email me: [email protected]