“What is the Wanger Family Fab Lab at the Museum of Science & Industry?” by S.M. O’Connor

The Museum of Science and Industry’s Wanger Family Fab Lab is a modern-day workshop devoted to computer-based innovation, design, and fabrication.  The Museum of Science and Industry opened the Wanger Family Fab Lab opened in 2007.  Shortly thereafter, the Museum hosted Fab4, the Fourth International Fab Lab Forum abd Symposium on Digital Fabrication.  According to the Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.), “The Museum’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication laboratory, the Wanger Family Fab Lab, allows you to dream up, design and make almost anything you can imagine using cutting-edge software and equipment.”

The Wanger Family Fab Lab is one over 500 Fab Labs worldwide.  The original Fab Lab and the worldwide network of Fab Labs is an educational outreach program of the Center for Bits and Atoms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).  The Center for Bits and Atoms is an extension of M.I.T.’s research into fabrication and computation.  Fab Labs can now be found across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.  All Fab Labs share core open-source software, equipment, and capabilities so all projects can be shared among sites.

M.S.I.’s Wanger Family Fab offers the Dream It, Design It, Fab It! workshop for museum visitors to have introductory experiences with digital fabrication.  Youth in M.S.I.’s Innovation Clubs program learn advanced skills through ten-week-long project-based modules.  Fab Lab Summer Camps invite youth to spend a week in the Wanger Family Fab Lab, taking a deep dive into innovation and design.

Computers and Tools in the M.S.I.’s Wanger Family Fab Lab

Type of Machine

Quantity on Hand

Model

Design Circle

15

C.A.D. workstations

Laser Cutters

2

35-watt Epilog mini laser cutters

Desktop 3D Printers

15

MakerBot Replicator 2

Professional 3D Printers

1

1

1

Stratasys Prodigy Plus

 

Stratasys uPrint SE Plus

 

Stratasys Dimension Elite BST 768

Vinyl Cutters

2

Roland CAMM-1 Servo GX-24

Small Digital Milling Machines

2

Roland Modela MDX-20 CNC

Large Digital Wood Router

1

ShopBot PRS standard CNC

Electronics Workshop

15

Soldering and electronics assembly stations

 

One can make almost anything in the Wanger Family Fab Lab from t-shirts to furniture to robots.  Here, one can collaborate with other Fab Labs and design off-site using open-source software.  One can learn one’s way around digital design tools used by experts in the field, have hands-on access to fabrication machinery, and become an expert volunteer.

The Wanger Family Fab Lab is unable to accommodate personal, corporate, or independent projects at this time, but the Chicago Public Library’s Maker Lab and the South Side Hackerspace are among many options available in Chicago.

Currently, there are three available guided workshops.  “3D Printed Creature” is a sixty-minute-long workshop where one digitally sculpts a 3D object and then makes it with a 3d printer.  “Laser Cut Greeting Card” is a sixty-minute-long workshop where one digitally designs a custom greeting card and then make it with a laser cutter.  ‘Rainbow Light Circuit” is a thirty-minute-long workshop where one experiments with electricity and make one’s rainbow light circuit.  Available sessions and time slots may vary.  Check the MSI Wanger Family Fab Lab Calendar for details.

Located in the northeast corner of Jackson Park, the Museum of Science and Industry stands on 57th Street at the intersection with Lake Shore Drive.  Currently, the Museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but during peak periods (including March 24-30, 2018 and April 2-8, 2018) it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  The Website is https://wwwmsichicago.org/.  The phone number is (773) 684-1414.

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3 thoughts on ““What is the Wanger Family Fab Lab at the Museum of Science & Industry?” by S.M. O’Connor

  1. Thank you. I haven’t received any complaints along those lines. No, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to address that issue.

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