Florence Fab Lab Open House November 12th

November 5, 2015

Wendy Gehlhoff

press release

Florence, WI…… The Florence County School District is hosting a Public Open House for their new Fab Lab on Thursday, November 12th, from 4:30-6:30pm at the high school on 400 Olive Ave in Florence. The new Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) has been a place of excitement since the start of this school year. More students are finding out that the Fab Lab class is a unique multi disciplinary hands-on approach to learning. And the best part about it is they get to feel the satisfaction of making some really cool things. At the open house you will have an opportunity to see the equipment and discuss with staff and students what can be made. Currently the Fab Lab contains 2 Afinia H800 3D printers, a Roland Mini mill, Vinyl Cutter, Epilog Laser Engraver, Plasma Cam and CNC Router. Design software includes SolidWorks, Adobe Illustrator, and Aspire. Items can be made from wood, metal, vinyl, acrylic and polymers.

Part of the criteria to be an MIT Chartered Fab Lab is the facility must be open to the community for “making things” using open source software. This Open House is the kick-off for the Florence Fab Lab officially opening to the public. Fab Lab will open every Wednesday from 4pm to 7pm starting on December 2nd but closed through the holidays. There is a fee of $25 for Florence County residents and $50 for nonresidents. The first few months of the Fab Lab opening will be focused on learning how to use the software via tutorials and staff assistance. To learn more visit sites.myflorence.org/fablab where you can fill out a registration form, understand the rules of use and begin viewing the tutorials, along with reading about the engineering and design process that guides product development.

Neighboring Three Lakes School District opened their Fab Lab last year. Their Model Railroad Club uses it to 3D print scaled down buildings and other items for their model rail displays, a retired woman is etching wine bottles with her own art work and giving them as gifts, and others are making key chains, games and wooden plaques. Three Florence School staff members took part in training classes last summer at the Three Lakes Fab Lab. Monica Chartier, Florence IT Technician, 3D printed a USB drive holder, used the laser engraver to create a mother/daughter plaque, designed a metal sign on the plasma cutter and used the CNC router to cut out a coat hanger and then engraved it with a verse and designs for her office. Monica commented “I don’t consider myself a person that is creative but I found it was very easy to be creative using the Fab Lab process”.

Fab Labs are a place for local entrepreneurs to explore the lost art of making things and improving on them through trial and error. Who knows who might develop a unique new problem solving product that can be sold at a profit level capable of creating a good job for the inventor. Product demand may increase to the point where a larger facility and additional employees are needed, thus growing our local economy. Florence County Economic Development (715-528-3294) has business planning resources and loan programs to help entrepreneurs do just that. It’s also a great way for Florence County to see how their school is “Positively Affecting the Lives of Children” and the community too.

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