Desktop fabricators give individual users the ability to print their own part designs or those of others' from websites like MakerBot Industries' Thingiverse. These small-scale systems open the door for widespread personal use of additive manufacturing technologies.
The DREAMS Lab has a total of 5 MakerBot systems. The open architecture of these desktop fabrication systems enables researchers to experiment with novel thermoplastic materials by providing full customization over every process parameter. While only a desktop-sized machine, this printer is perfectly suitable for small-scale processing tests of new materials. The machines are used primarily for undergraduate research projects as well as outreach activities (e.g., STEM classroom demonstrations).
The Fab@Home system is an open source desktop fabrication technology. Using off-the-shelf components, the system creates prototypes via the selective extrusion of material. The extrusion subsystem is composed of a stepper motor, a lead screw, and a syringe.
In its current embodiment, the Fab@Home system is only able to work with materials which can be extruded at room temperature: frosting, silicone RTV, and modeling clay.