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 on demand 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

Want to prototype and don’t know where to start? Reach out to Team Fab Lab to schedule a design consultation!

Lab Access

Scheduled weekly, Fab Lab 101 is your orientation to the Fab Lab and your first step to experiencing the Lab’s resources. Afterwards, learn to use the Fab Lab’s hardware and software to make your ideas real. No experience necessary!
Once you are authorized, you can reserve machine time here.

Equipment Hours

Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

 

Success at the Fab Lab

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

4Women

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

Stats:

  • 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:
  • UPRINT SE PLUS 3D PRINTER

FGS PLASMA

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

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. 

Stats:

  • 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