Opening of the new FabLab

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In autumn 2018, a FabLab opened in the heart of the ECAM Lyon campus. This new space is the first part of a 4.0 platform that is scheduled to be set up in 2019.

FabLab workshop

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ECAM Engineering students build objects during a class

A true teaching tool, the FabLab namely aims to enhance the inventiveness of ECAM Lyon’s engineering students. It is an ideal space for collaborative work, open to all students and faculty for projects in various programs. Making mistakes is not prohibited: the FabLab is above all synonymous with testing and learning, trial and error.

We have to whet students’ appetite to design and manufacture! – Jean-François Caron, head of ECAM Factory

The FabLab is also an open space: it can be made available to TECH 360 startups for prototyping (mock-ups, pre-prototypes and prototypes) or companies involved in R&D projects with the School.

From idea to concrete object

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The FabLab is a complete program enables students to go “from idea to action”. Students move from the design phase (understanding digital manufacturing methods using CAD software) to concrete production of objects, whether components or full systems.

Thanks to a 3-phase process, FabLab helps to quickly and inexpensively approve or reject an object’s design:

  • The mock-up to approve the concepts
  • The pre-prototype to study how the functional specifications are met
  • The prototype to see if the object fully meets the requirements (with the specified materials at 1:1 scale)

Thanks to cutting-edge machinery, users can build mechatronic products using 5 technical processes:

  • By removal (turning, milling, drilling, filing and laser cutting)
  • By deformation (folding)
  • By fusion (3D printing)
  • By assembly (soldering, gluing, collage, bolting, riveting, stapling)
  • Assembly, adjustment
  • Final Test

We start with a yogurt tub, which is our raw material. It is transformed into filament that can be used in a 3D printer to build an object.

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A workshop equipped with cutting-edge technology

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The FabLab’s 3D printers

  • A 3D scanner
  • Two 3D printers
  • 1 manual “pick and place” system for placing SMD components
  • 1 melting oven for surface-mount PCBs
  • 1 CN micro router to create prismatic parts and integrated circuits (PCBs)
  • 1 micro turning machine
  • 1 laser cutting and engraving machine
  • Tin soldering stations and a full range of small tools

This is the main equipment made available at the FabLab. Students are given training to learn to understand handle and maintain this highly technical machinery.

Action learning

The FabLab helps to break down the barriers between various disciplines, from design using CAD technology to manufacturing. Its use in courses adds a new dimension to the class lab work modules and other projects, and is based on an action learning approach. Indeed, it is by practicing, testing, handling and sometimes failing that we can learn and make progress.