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Polsky Fab Lab

Polsky Fab Lab

NOTE: The Polsky Fab Lab is currently operating on a limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorized users who are authorized on Fab Lab equipment may be eligible for access. We are offering 3D printing services with contactless pickup for UChicago affiliates. To learn more, please schedule up a virtual consultation.

The Fab Lab, located at the Polsky Exchange, offers entrepreneurs opportunities to transform their ideas into physical objects to share, test and perfect. With a full suite of state-of-the-art equipment to create prototypes and translate ideas into physical objects, the Fab Lab gives members access to tools needed to translate between digital and physical design.

What we offer
  • Expert support: Polsky Center staff provides knowledge and guidance to help members through the prototyping process, assist with determining the best tools for the job at each stage, and connects them with an extended network for additional resources.
  • Training classes: Fab Lab 101 is offered weekly and provides an orientation to the Fab Lab’s space and many resources. Follow this with machine-specific authorizations, which will train you safely and expertly use the Fab Lab equipment for your project.
  • 2D and 3D Design workshops: Coming up with a good idea and learning how to make a prototype are only part of the process in creating a successful business. In order to take advantage of digital fabrication, you need to translate your designs to a digital file. Our software classes can help you do just that.
  • Materials for prototyping: Use of the Fab Lab and materials for prototyping are included in Polsky Exchange membership. Members may be asked to provide their own materials for special projects or if high quantities are required.
  • Workshop and hack days:  In addition to hardware and software classes, the Fab Lab hosts electronics classes, open houses, and project-based workshops to build community and help members gain skills outside their primary areas of expertise.
Full Access

Getting Started

Fab Lab 101 is your first step to experiencing each of the Fab Lab’s incredible resources. Offered every week, Fab Lab 101 is a prerequisite for the machine-specific authorizations, design consultations, and usage of the professional 3D printers. See when the next session is scheduled on the Polsky Calendar


Stop by the Fab Lab

Due to the pandemic, the Fab Lab is currently closed. Please schedule a virtual consultation.


Success at the Fab Lab

The Polsky Center is proud to have partnered with these companies in the development of their prototypes.


4Women is creating a self-administered HPV test that could replace pap smears for most women. They printed 3D prototypes of their devices on the Objet500 Connex3 3D printer, using clear and flexible materials — all at the Polsky Center’s Fab Lab. Additionally, they created a realistic and approachable kit using the laser cutter.

The company was a finalists at the 2017 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, and won $20,000.

“The Fab Lab was critical to our progress and success in Booth’s New Venture Challenge. Creating a physical prototype allowed us to turn our ideas into something tangible. While we had CAD drawings to show our design, we found that it was still difficult for others to fully grasp our product. Once we had a physical product, everyone instantly understood. Not only did this help our team better understand our product and service but it also helped our judges and future customers better understand 4Women as well.” – Sue Kim, MBA ’17, CEO of 4Women


  • Founders (Sue Kim, MBA ’17, and Arshiya Fazal, AB ’12, MBA ’17)
  • 5th Place at the 2017 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) ($20,000)
  • Learn more about 4Women here.

Fab Lab Equipment used:

  • Objet500 Connex3 3D printer
  • Laser cutter

Atlas Energy Systems

The Atlas Energy Systems technology provides a way to turn high-level radioactive decay products from spent nuclear fuel into a usable energy source via radioisotope plasma generation. After unsuccessfully making an additive manufacturing model, the company turned to the Polsky Center for help. As an incubator company at Argonne National Laboratory, the Fab Lab at the Polsky Center was able to assist in the creation of prototypes to illustrate the complex technologies at upcoming conferences and trade shows.

“At TechConnect I showed it [the prototype] to more than 100 people I had come up and play with it and look at it. It was super helpful. It made it drastically faster to explain my technology. A lot of people don’t know how to envision a nuclear battery, they think of a Duracell glowing. With this model I can point to and pull out the parts as I explain how it works.”  — Ian Hamilton, CEO of Atlas Energy Systems.
Fab Lab Equipment used:


FGC Plasma Solutions believes the next big thing in aerospace might actually be relatively small. The company’s plasma assisted fuel injection system creates cleaner, lighter, and more effective engines. As an incubator company at Argonne National Laboratory, the Fab Lab at the Polsky Center was able to assist in the creation of prototypes to illustrate the complex technologies at upcoming conferences and trade shows.

Fab Lab Equipment used:

  • uPrint SE Plus 3D printer


LuminAID Lab develops cost-effective, solar-rechargeable lighting products in order to make light more affordable, portable, and sustainable. Its first product, the LuminAID light, is an inflatable, lightweight, waterproof solar lantern that can be packed and shipped flat, and is ideal for use in emergency and disaster situation. Cofounders, Andrea Sreshta, MBA ’16, and Anna Stork started their company with the thought that in addition to basic human needs such as food, water, and shelter, another critical need is light. LuminAID is now lighting the way for hikers in Yosemite, backpackers in Whistler and emergency workers in Nepal. LuminAID also sparked the interest of ABC’s Shark Tank. In addition to impressing the investors on the television show, the company also wowed the judges at the 2012 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) winning first place and taking home $25,000. Today, LuminAID lights have been used in more than 70 countries and after disasters, including Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Harvey, Typhoon Haiyan, and the earthquakes in Nepal. You can buy a light, give a light, and follow @luminAIDlab to see what light bulb idea they’ll come up with next. 


  • Founded by Andrea Sreshta, MBA ’16, and Anna Stork
  • 1st place at the 2012 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) ($25,000)
  • Star and gem lanterns were prototyped at the Polsky Center Fab Lab in 2016
  • Headquartered in Chicago, IL
  • LuminAID was featured on Shark Tank and received offers from all 5 investors in 2015
  • @luminAIDlab
The Tools

Fab Lab Equipment

ARDX – Arduino Experimenter’s Kit
Use a microcontroller to program lights, sensors, motors, and other physical objects.
BeagleBone Black Starter Kit
A powerful, easy-to-use single-board computer running Linux.
Circuit Stickers
Create flexible circuits, perfect for prototyping wearables and consumer goods. Also a good introduction to electronics.
Dewalt DWS780 Chop/Miter Saw
Makes straight and curved cuts. Great for finishing pieces from the Shopbot.
Discover Electronics
Learn to prototype non-permanent circuits on breadboards.
Extech 382260 80W 3-in-1 Switching DC Power Supply
Powers projects with the specific voltage and current they need.
Fluke 87V Industrial Multimeter
Analyzes circuits and connections. Useful for troubleshooting.
Grizzly G0513 Bandsaw
Makes straight and curved cuts. Great for finishing pieces from the Shopbot.
Grizzly G7947 Drill Press
Makes holes in a variety of materials.
Instek AFG-2125 Arbitrary Function Generator 25MHz
Generates custom waveforms for testing electronics projects.
Instek GDS-1152A-U 150 MHz Digital Storage Oscilloscope
Analyzes analog signals and circuits.
Inventables X-Carve Computer Numerically Controlled Router
Cuts prototypes from wood, plastics, and soft metals, and engraves circuit boards. A great way to learn about subtractive processes.
Photon Internet Button
A quick way to prototype Internet of Things devices without wires or soldering.
Photon Maker Kit
Prototype Internet of Things devices with a wifi-connected microcontroller and an assortment of sensors.
Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Starter Kit
A single-board Linux computer that can be incorporated into prototypes.
Ridgid Oscillating Edge Belt/Spindle Sander.
Quickly smooths and shapes material.
Roland GX-24 Vinyl Cutter
Makes custom decals to add branding and realism to low-fidelity prototypes. Can be used as a resist for silkscreens and stencils.
Saleae Logic Pro 16 Logic Analyzer
Analyzes digital signals and circuits.
Sawstop Professional 3HP Table Saw
Cuts large pieces of wood parallel to the grain (ripping).
Shopbot PRS Alpha 96-48 Computer Numerically Controlled Router
Cuts large prototypes from wood, plastics, and soft metals. Can engrave circuit boards.
Powerful, professional engineering CAD software. Design objects to be 3D printed and simulate operations.
Universal VLS 4.60 Laser Cutter
Creates custom packaging and enclosures. Cuts and etches a wide variety of materials for quick iterations and intricate details.
Adobe Photshop
Versatile photo and image editing software, useful for preparing images to be etched on the laser cutter.
Adobe Illustrator
Used to make 2D graphics to be cut on the laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and computer numerically controlled routers. Great for making logos and designing with type.
Objet500 Connex3 3D Printer
Creates precise and realistic prototypes combining multiple properties like color, flexibility, and transparency. Can print moving parts.
Taz4 3D Printer
Desktop 3D printer for experimenting with the earliest iterations of a 3D printed prototype, and for prototyping large plastic objects. A great way to learn about the 3D printing process.
UPRINT SE Plus 3D Printer
Creates strong structural prototypes and moving parts. Great for early iterations of a product.

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