The ULB FabLab is part of a global and collaborative network of "Fabrication laboratory". Their main goal is to provide the ULB community and the public with access to all the equipment necessary to build all kinds of things.
It is located on the first floor of Building G inside the See U venue. There are two ways to access it:
- Enter See U from Rue Fritz Toussaint 8, then walk to Building F, which is connected to Building G.
- Enter See U from Avenue de la Couronne, then walk directly to Building G.
It takes about 15 minutes to get to FabLab on foot from IRIDIA.
To use any piece of equipment, specific training is required. The training is always free of charge for the members of the ULB community. The sessions usually last 1 hour except for the CNC (4h). Everything is in French at FabLab, but you can request training in English. To book a training session, you can either send them an email or go to the site and ask them. They might not reply to emails, so I would recommend going to FabLab and asking in person. You might need to wait for enough people to want to take the training. To avoid this, it is best to gather 3-4 people from IRIDIA who are interested in using the equipment at FabLab and ask for a training session together.
Booking and fees
FabLab is open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm. Once you have gone through the training course for a specific piece equipment, you can either send them an email or ask in person to book the machine for a specific date and time (they are currently testing a new system with access cards but it is not operational yet). You will not have to wait for more than a few days, except maybe for the 3D printers in time of high demand. Two people are present at all time in the office to help you.
The use of all the equipment is free of charge for members of the ULB community. You only need to provide your own wood, if necessary. PLA and PCBs are provided for free.
There is one office and 3 rooms full of equipment at FabLab. The website describes some of the equipment available, but is not up to date (some pieces are no longer available and some are missing).
There are 8 Prusa i3 MK3 3D printers with 0.4mm nozzles at FabLab. The process to print your own pieces is the following:
- Design: you can use an existing model (for example from Thingiverse) or create your own. To create your own model, you can simply use CAD software (e.g. FreeCAD) or more complex 3D creation software (e.g. Blender). In either case, you will need to export your design as an STL file in order to slice it afterwards.
- Slicing: the process of slicing consists of generating the code (G-code) that will be executed by the 3D printer from a given model. Once you have your STL file, there are multiple software alternatives to generate the G-code. FabLab recommends PrusaSlicer and provide instructions to set the required parameters in the following.
Printing : You need to verify that you print with PLA. Retrieving the piece : You only need to stay for the first few layers and can come back later or another day for your printed piece. Cleanup : You only need to clean the plate of the printer beforhand but not after and trow away the PLA in the PLA recycling bin.
PCB milling machine