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Fab@Home Project at Newcastle University, UK

We are a team of six final year mechanical engineering students at the School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering of Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Our major project is based on the Fab@Home machine and our tasks are to:

  1. Build and commission a fabber
  2. Evaluate new materials providing good mechanical properties
  3. Identify and evaluate potential engineering applications

Our project started on Thursday, 27. September 2007 and will be finished on Friday, 25. April 2008. Unfortunately,the entire project outcome was affected by teh late delivery of the fabber kit. Due to import- and tax-problems, it took four months for the package to arrive at Newcastle University.

Initially we developed an in-depth commissioning plan supplementary to the commissioning sequence as outlined in the general instructions (which we referred to as "initial calibration"). The commissioning plan included detailed tests of speed, physical limitations, accuracy, repeatability and lead times.

Moreover, an evaluation table has been developed to investigate possible "new" materials for the Fab@Home machine. Based on the six criteria strength, stiffness/modulus, price, processing temperature, setting time and hazardousness, research was carried out to find suitable substances. Due to the time limitations, we concentrated on filler materials to add to silicone as a well-established material for the fabber.

In order to identify potential engineering aplications for the machine, we based our investigation on six major questions to be addressed: customer desire, market attractiveness, business advantage, industry attractiveness, required skills and experiance as well as the outsourcing potential. The biggest potential for the Fab@Home machine lies in the affordable production of highly customised artefacts which are usually not found in big scale industry however the comcept of mass-custmisation still is an important driving factor.

A short review of future prospects concluded our project work.

Project members

The student team members are as follows:

  • Jon Bona
  • Antony Bullas
  • Alex Impey
  • Dominik Krümpel
  • Alec Pattinson
  • Harry Scott-Dempster

Our supervisor is Professor K. W. Dalgarno.

At the moment, the Fab@Home machine is part of a postgraduate project. Chun-Han Yu is a MSc student who wants to use the fabber to produce a mobile phone case.

To contact Fab@Newcastle just write an email to Chun-Han (the nfabhome address is temporarily unavailable): Chun-Han Yu

Other postgraduate student projects will include the examination of the fabber's capability as a rapid prototyping machine for industrial applications. Undergraduate projects will probably follow.

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