Digital Fab Lab
The newly renovated Digital Fabrication Lab (FABLab) at Taubman College leverages state-of-the-art industrial technology to perform architectural fabrication research. It is one of few select academic institutions around the world utilizing robotic automation to perform both subtractive and additive manufacturing processes. The technologies have existed in the aerospace and automotive industries for some time, but have just recently infiltrated the architectural-fabrication industry.
The Fab Lab operates numerous computer-numerical controlled (CNC) machines, allowing students and faculty to work with virtually any material.
Two large 3 axis CNC routers process plywood or plastics, in addition to 3D surfacing wood and foam. A 3 axis abrasive water jet cutter can perform 2D cuts in any material up to 1" steel and 2" stone to five one thousandths of an inch.(005") tolerance. A smaller 3 axis bed mill can perform full 3D cuts in metals like aluminum and stainless steel.
The largest machine in the lab is the 7 axis Kuka Robot, with a 30'x10'x8' work volume. The robot is one of the largest in the world at an architectural institution. The system has been laser calibrated to achieve accuracies approaching that of CNC machines. The robot can load either a milling head for cutting wood and foam, or a water jet cutting nozzle for full 3D cutting of any material. The robot also utilizes a gripper for material forming or assembly processes.
The lab also makes use of four rapid prototyping machines for on-demand 3D printing of student models, and four laser cutters for rapid production of sketch models from chip board or acrylic. Two of the rapid prototyping machines are located within the architecture studios making it easier for students in studio to access the equipment 24-7.
The two new laser cutting systems are now installed in the west computer cluster on the third floor. These systems are available for use by authorized users on a weekly signup basis.
A fully outfitted wood and metal shop supports the digital lab, allowing secondary processes such as bending and welding on the digitally cut components.
The 3d printers are operated daily on-demand, students should just follow the procedures in the handbook for submitting your file. If you need help from a Lab assistant, send an email to email@example.com.
The 3-Axis CNC routers are accessible throughout the week. To schedule a time to use the CNC router, please check the CNC calender (link above). Available shifts are labeled 'OPEN.' To reserve your preferred open shift, please email TCAUProuter@umich.edu. You will receive a prompt reply confirming your reservation.
The laser cutters are available for use by authorized users 24/7. Laser Assistants are available various hours throughout the week for assistance as needed. To contact one please email TCAUPlaser@umich.edu.
The scheduling system for the laser cutters is now online. Please click here to view the schedule or to book time on a laser cutter.
The Lab employs numerous assistants to help with the various operations in the lab, including the laser cutters, the CNC router, and the 3d printers.
You can email the lab assistants at the following addresses.
A reference handbook has been prepared to orient users to the Fab Lab equipment, procedures, and operations. Users are strongly encouraged to review these materials prior to setting up a project or contacting the lab coordinator.
Digital Fab Lab Handbook (PDF 115KB)
The Handbook outlines procedures for using the equipment in the lab. Please use the available 3D Printing Submission Form (PDF 22KB).
In addition, the Art and Architecture Building houses the 7,000 square foot Building Technology Laboratory. The BTL is a unique resource for class use in group assignments or demonstrations, individual investigation by students, or faculty and research in teaching methods in the area of building technology.