The Mobile Digital Fab Lab

Topic: Technology

Case Study

of an Exhibit

by Harry Kurtz

Published on November 17, 2016, Modified on November 17, 2016

  • Description and goals

    The Fab Lab is a state-of-the-art mobile Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) training, education, and marketing vehicle. It’s a 44-foot self-contained classroom that expands to 430 square feet of floor space. Inside, the mobile lab is outfitted with 13 computer stations with computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM) software programs to control the CNC mill and lathe used in the manufacturing process.
    The Fab Lab is used as a mobile classroom, but is just as frequently used as a community outreach vehicle to bring awareness to the public about high-tech manufacturing. It travels to schools, colleges, fairs, career days and other events to educate the public and market careers in high tech manufacturing. Visitors can see first-hand how CNC programming works and talk with representatives about lucrative opportunities for CNC programmers.

    North Central Michigan College operates the Fab Lab. It travels to area high schools, community colleges and manufacturing facilities to bring CNC training to those who are interested in a career as a CNC machinist and could not get the training otherwise. The Fab Lab also brings CNC and CAD training right to manufacturers’ physical plants. Companies can train up to 12 employees at a time and customize classes to meet the needs of each manufacturer.

    The CNC Fab Lab is Michigan’s first mobile education unit for CNC programming and machining, it is a first-of-its-kind collaboration—over 30 entities are involved in its success, including manufacturing companies, institutions of higher education, secondary schools, state and local government entities, foundations, non-profits, and cultural and private organizations.

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