At Fab Lab Manchester, we offer a creative space for budding product designers and entrepreneurs to test out their ideas and bring them to life.
Our open access Lab offers the latest in digital fabrication equipment along with a friendly atmosphere where like minded people can build, code, solder, design and engineer pretty much anything they can think of. And we have highly trained staff on hand to help you with your project, whether it be something for your home or a brand new product you want to prototype.
Since opening our doors in March 2010, over 11,000 individuals have visited Fab Lab Manchester to create new products and prototypes ranging from musical instruments and furniture, to jewellery and artwork. Our Fab Lab Manchester community has now grown to around 1,800 registered users, who regularly use our facilities to build their knowledge and skills, and to design and create products and prototypes with the help of our friendly volunteers and highly trained staff.
If you have the idea, then we have the means to make it happen…
How2s are short, sweet and very, very cheap
How do you make a model using a 3D printer?
Is there a way of experimenting with wearable technology without breaking the bank?
Can I design a one-off T-shirt as a present?
Thanks to our Fab Lab Manchester the answer to all of the above- and more – is Yes!
We’ve designed a series of short How2 sessions based on the skills you’ve told us you would like to learn.
Young Fab Academy
Our Young Fab Academy(YFA) has been designed for 13 to 14
year-olds to learn about digital fabrication during school
holidays with a series of clever, engaging and fun challenges.
During our half-term and summer programmes kids can use
state-of-the-art equipment to design and build fantastic
Through a series of challenges you’ll get an introduction
to electronics, programming and fabrication.
And the best thing is, you’ll get to take what you make home with you.
You could make anything from decals for your school bag,
to an iphone case, or even a robot!
Fab Academy provides a unique educational experience for adults who take part in its global learning programme
from January to June every year.
Students participate in global lectures broadcast by Fab Lab founder Professor Neil Gershenfeld from MIT in the US every week and there are lab days each week where students have access to the digital fabrication equipment and local expertise for personal help with assignments.
Assignments involve designing and making something every week ranging from developing a simple website to building a digital fabrication machine, such as a 3D printer.
At the Fab Academy you will learn how to envision, design, prototype and document your ideas through many hours of hands-on experience with all of the digital design and fabrication tools.
You will also engage with and learn from your fellow students with over 100 participants throughout the world all
designing and creating their own projects.
The Fab Academy Diploma is a 5 month part-time programme which consists of 19 to 20 Fab Academy Certificates that can also be studied individually. Success is measured through projects by a student’s acquired skills rather than time or examination.
The Fab Academy is a fast-paced, intense hands-on learning experience with assessment projects being completed each week. Students document their projects continuously building up a unique online personal portfolio of creative and technical achievements.
Fab Lab is a charity and in order for us to fund our free open days we offer a range of commercial services. These include the hiring of event space, prototyping for new products, 3D printing for business and sponsorship. Click on one of the icons below to find out more.
When we started our wearables and e-textiles course, we were slightly nervous delving into the unknown world of incorporating technology with textiles. 6 months later, we all learnt so much having completed projects to take away as well as our floras, gemmas and lilypads to continue our wearables journey.
Some of our projects included Kajal’s bag for women which lights up inside when it is …Find out more
Machine time can only be booked once you have completed a health and safety induction
You can either click on the “Add a Project” button on the homepage or you can upload from the My Fab Lab Page.
At Fab Lab we run Open Days every Friday and Saturday. This basically means you can come in and use the lab… for free! We’ll give you access to all of our equipment including our range of 3D printers (we have a few!)
All we ask is that you register as a user prior to coming to the lab – you can do this by clicking the register button at top of the page – and attend a Safety Induction.
We run Safety Inductions daily at 10.30am and 12.30pm – there’s no need to book just turn up and we’ll do the rest. Everyone is welcome but if you’re under 16 you need to be supervised by an adult. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Fab Labs are a global network, enabling invention by providing open access for individuals to manufacturing equipment and digital fabrication facilities.
Everyone using Fab Lab, regardless of age, ability or what you are making, must abide by our charter:
You can use the Fab Lab to make almost anything. The Fab Lab’s highly-trained staff are on hand to offer support and guidance but the emphasis is on you to learn how to make things yourself. You must also share use of the Lab with other users.
You are responsible for:
Safety: knowing how to work without hurting people or damaging machines
Cleaning up: leaving the Lab cleaner than you found it
Operations: assisting with maintaining, repairing, and reporting on tools, supplies, and any incidents
Training in the Fab Lab is based on doing projects and learning from peers. Unless you are a commercial user, you are expected to share your ideas and to document your Fab Lab experience by uploading your project to our Project Forum.
Designs and processes developed in the Fab Lab must remain available for individual use, although intellectual property can be protected however you choose.
Commercial activities can be incubated in Fab Labs however they must not conflict with open access and should grow beyond, rather than within, the Lab. They are expected to benefit the inventors, Labs and networks that contribute to their success.
Inductions take place on both Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30am and 12:30pm. There is no need to book just aim to be here on time or you might miss it.
The aim of Fab Lab is to have open access for all, therefore we use freeware software to create files in the lab. Anyone can download and learn to use these programs at home for free. For 2D Design we use Inkscape and for 3D design Google Sketch-Up.You can also use your own preferred software as long as files are saved in the correct format.
2D Design files = PDF/DXF (with vector data not picture data, e.g. illustrator file not photoshop)
3D Design files = STL
We stock a small amount of acrylic, MDF and plywood in various sizes and thickness, all of which can be purchased in the lab on the day. Please note that stock levels do vary and you should call ahead to check we have the material in stock if your job depends on it. You are also more than welcome to bring your own material with you as long it is machinable.
e.g Only laserable MDF can be used on the laser cutter, normal MDF will not cut correctly.
Yes we can, but it is not a free service*.
At Fab Lab we offer a professional prototyping service during the week (Tuesday-Thursday). We have a small skilled team with qualifications and experience in mechanical engineering, product design and electronics. We use our own in house digital fabrication machines to tackle a wide variety of projects. If you are interested in making a commercial prototype at Fab Lab please use the contact us form to arrange a meeting.
* Please be aware although Fab Lab is a non-profit project, prototyping services and machine hire are revenue making in order to enable us to run our free public open days every week.
There are two main differences to be aware of when using the lab on an open day:
Firstly, everything made in the lab must be written up and posted in the project area of our website. All details of the project must be disclosed along with attached design files and machine settings. This supports our goal of creating an open-innovation environment in which users can learn from each other. If you are looking to commercialise a new product idea this full disclosure open-source condition may jeopardise your chance at IP (intellectual property) protection.
Secondly, on open days all project work is done by you. With the aid of tutorials and past projects you are required to teach yourself to use the necessary machines and software packages without dedicated staff time. You will also need to fit your work around other users in the lab, and as part of our fair-use policy you will only have access to one slot on each machine, per day.