Students in Architecture, Interior Design, Construction Management and Graphic Design now have access to a new, state-of-the-art fabrication lab located in Red 67.
The “fab lab”—also referred to as “digital fabrication lab” (dLab)—is a hands-on laboratory that provides students with the necessary resources for material testing, prototyping, product design and development, visualization, and digital fabrication at all scales.
“The fab lab fulfills Dunwoody’s mission to provide a hands-on education that serves the industries in need,” said Architecture Program Manager John Dwyer. “Architecture is expanding its role into computational design and digital fabrication to create buildings with greater performance. This gives students the capacity to gain the skills for these emerging professional tracks.”
Among the fab lab’s tools relevant to the architecture industry are: model making and prototyping tools (laser cutter/engraver, small sander, small table saw and dremel); full-scale fabrication tools (CNC router); and product design and development tools (3D printer). Future fab lab tools will include a large format laser cutter, vinyl cutter, mini mill and portable 3D printers.
Interior Design students will use the fab lab for prototyping and testing product concepts for improvements and innovations. “The actual making helps to reinforce a true hands-on educational experience unique to our college—and so important to our students learning,” said Interior Design Principal Instructor Colleen Schmaltz.
Construction Management students will focus on collaboration with other disciplines in the fab lab. Program Manager Heather Gay said: “We plan on working with Architecture, Interior Design, and Graphic Design on multidisciplinary projects such as model building, cost and buildability analyses, and full-scale construction.”
The Graphic Design department will use the fab lab to cut larger retail display components than their new Kongsberg V20 table can handle and also to possibly create 3D-printed prototypes to stand in as product samples and enrich the package design process.
“The other programs will be using Graphic Design’s new CAD table as well for their furniture design and model making when they can,” said Graphic Design Principal Instructor Pete Rivard. “Our table has expandable tooling options that extend it beyond paper and corrugated and allow materials such as plastic, vinyl, wood and aluminum to be cut so there are options available to Architecture and Interior Design to share the cost of tools while making the Kongsberg table available to more Dunwoody students.”
Rivard added that the programs all sharing materials will make the procurement of materials more cost effective for the College.
The fab lab was funded largely by private donations through the Dunwoody community of donors as well as a matching grant from First Technologies.
“We are applying for an annual grant to continue expanding the lab and are hoping to eventually integrate the fab lab with the materials lab, currently on the Green Level, and house all of them on the Red Level,” Dwyer said.