Responding to COVID-19: Spring 2022

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

This semester, due to restrictions posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Fabrication Lab will operate solely as a contact-free digital fabrication outsource.  We will offer laser cutting, CNC milling, powder-based 3D printing, and FDM 3D printing.  In-Lab traditional fabrication is suspended until conditions permit.  No student or faculty member will be permitted to enter the Lab for any reason. 

Below is a basic outline of the logistical systems developed for operations.  Documents detailing more specific instruction on each step of these processes are available on the Lab’s section of the School’s website.  For further clarity, I have prepared a YouTube playlist of videos that walk through each step.  These videos are available at Fabrication Lab Tutorial.  Additionally, I have developed infographics that explain this information in yet another format.  These are available in the “Infographics” subsection of the Lab’s section of the website. 

I ask that you please familiarize yourself with this “new normal” set of procedures in order to guide your students to these resources, and to help you understand how you and I can best collaborate to maximize the student experience this year in spite of our difficult circumstances.  

LASER CUTTING 

Students must register for access to the laser scheduling software. 

This is not a new process, but it is an annual process for all students.  Returning students who registered last year must re-register. 

Students may make three half-hour laser appointments per week. 

This differs from previous years.  Walk-in laser sessions are no longer available, so I have increased the weekly allowance. 

Laser files must be submitted to the Box file sharing software. 

Students are included as collaborators on a Box folder when they register for the scheduling software.  Their files must be placed in subfolders that correspond to the date, time, and laser location of their laser appointment. 

Material Submission 

Laser materials must be submitted in person in Meyerson Hall in cabinets constructed for this purpose.  Like the Box file system, the cabinet divisions correspond to the date, time, and laser location of their laser appointment.

Materials can be submitted either the day before an appointment or the day of the appointment.  If special permission is needed to access Meyerson Hall to submit materials, students may email the Office of Operations and Planning to make an appointment for access. 

Students may work with any materials listed on the “Laser Suitable Materials” document on the website.  MDF sheets will be available for sale at the Lab during the Help Window hours (listed below). 

Parts Pickup 

Finished parts will be bagged, marked with the students last name, and placed in Room 413 Meyerson.  Parts will be ready on the even hours of the day.  For example, parts cut for appointments between 2PM to 3:30PM will be placed in Room 413 by 4PM. 

CNC MILLING/3D PRINTING

Students must register for access to the CNC Milling/3D Printing consultation scheduling software. 

This scheduling software is a new process, but file review is not.   

Students must now make an appointment to review their files with a staff technician during a Zoom or Bluejeans meeting.  Lab technicians will review files in Rhino and run software simulations to ascertain file integrity. 

Files with no formatting issues will be accepted and processed on a first-come first-served basis. 

Technicians will advise students on how, if needed, to best remedy files with formatting issues and will ask the students to correct their files and make another appointment to begin the process again.     

Students may make one CNC/3D consultation appointment at a time. 

There is no limit to the number of appointments per week a student may make, but appointments must be made one at a time, with each successive appointment made after the previous appointment. 

CNC/3D Print files must be submitted to the Box file sharing software. 

Students are included as collaborators on a Box folder when they register for the scheduling software.  Their files must be placed in subfolders that correspond to the date, time, and CNC technician of their appointment. 

Material Submission 

The Lab will sell EPS foam to students for CNC Milling in 24” x 24” size, in either 2” or 4” thickness.  This will done remotely during the consultation and will be billed to the student’s account through the Bursar’s Office.  Students to do not need to be present in person for this transaction. 

Materials other than EPS foam must be submitted to the Help Window during normal hours of operation. 

3D printing materials will be sold through the Lab, as usual.  These materials will be purchased remotely during the consultation and will be billed to the student’s account through the Bursar’s Office.  Students do not need to be present in person for this transaction. 

Parts Pickup 

Finished parts will be marked with the students last name and placed in Room 413 Meyerson.  Parts will be ready on a first-come first-served basis as quickly as possible.  Students will be given an estimated completion time during their consultation. 

HOURS OF OPERATION/HELP WINDOW 

The Lab will operate from 8AM to 8PM Monday through Friday.  Because of Meyerson Hall access restrictions, we cannot operate outside of this timeframe. 

An in-person Help Window will be open Monday through Thursday from 9AM to 6PM and on Fridays from 9AM to 4PM. 

Turnaround times will be as quick as possible, but please understand that current conditions are very different from normal.  Our hours of operation are significantly curtailed.  More importantly, the safety of the Lab staff must be my primary concern.  The work pace must be adjusted to allow time for all necessary precautions demanded for safely working during this pandemic.  I respectfully ask that you carefully include this in your considerations when making Lab-dependent assignments.  

Hopefully this brief overview helps to flesh out the basics of how contact-free digital fabrication will work this semester and will help to guide you to more specific detailed information on the website as well as in the videos and infographics.  I have made every effort for clarity, sometimes at the expense of brevity, under the assumption that we can all collaborate more effectively and provide a better student experience through better communication.  To that end, I welcome your comments and questions and, most importantly, details about your specific Lab assignments for this semester.  If you wish to contact me, my email address is dennis2@design.upenn.edu.  I will be available in person at the Lab Monday through Thursday from 9AM to 4PM at the Help Window and am available for Zoom or Bluejeans meeting by appointment. 

Dennis Pierattini
Director-Fabrication Laboratory
dennis2@design.upenn.edu