A state-of-the-art entrepreneurial hub located in the heart of downtown Muskegon at 388 W. Clay, the Lakeshore Fab Lab, supported and managed by Muskegon Community College (MCC), empowers people of all ages to learn, dream, design, and build their ideas.
The facility, which officially opened on June 1, 2018, houses more than a half-million dollars’ worth of equipment in a space where inventors can invent, businesses can prototype, and children can learn and gain hands on experience with STEM-based projects.
Situated inside MCC’s Rooks|Sarnicola Entrepreneur Institute at 388 Clay St., the Lakeshore Fab Lab is physically connected to MCC’s recently opened Sturrus Technology Center, home to cutting-edge applied technology classrooms and laboratories for automation, robotics, welding, electrical, foundry, alternative energy, engineering and CAD.
“The proximity gives Lakeshore Fab Lab members the option to build bigger pieces with larger machines and more capabilities,” noted David Stradal, the MCC Business Department chair and director of the College’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program. “We are the only facility of our kind within a 30-mile radius.”
Membership is open to anyone – students, entrepreneurs, local businesses, museums, clubs, etc. – from anywhere. Members aged 16 and over, who have completed the required Fab Lab safety class and specific machine-related training, can use the equipment by themselves. Members under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
The annual membership fees, which do not include lab time and cost of materials, are: $25 for students, $250 for an individual adult, $550 for a family (two adults and two children), $2,200 for a club or group organization, and $2,200 for a corporation or business.
Members will have access to the worldwide Fab Lab network and a proposed on-site entrepreneur store to sell their products or services on a consignment basis, said Stradal. Long-term plans include hosting speakers and seminars about creating ideas, designing products, etc.
What can members do at the Lakeshore Fab Lab?
- 3D Printing – Create three-dimensional object of all levels of complexity, from toy dinosaurs to high temp resistant engine prototypes
- Laser Etching – Engrave wood, glass, and plastic. Make award plaques, unique family portraits on wood from regular photos
- Robotics – Learn how to program machines that run today’s modern assembly plants
- Metal Milling – Use a machine for metal working/manufacturing applications
- Large Format Vinyl Printing – Make banners, decals, car wraps, window clings, and stickers
- T-shirt Hot Press – Make custom t-shirts
- Digital Scanning – Create 3D printed copies of objects
- Plasma Water Table Cutting – Cut metal sheets
- Routing – Shape plastic and wood
Chris Kaminsky, who has worked at JR Automation and Perception Engineering in the Grand Rapids area, manages the Lakeshore Fab Lab. Classes and training sessions will be available for everyone from kids to corporations. For those members not wishing to be trained on the machines, MCC students will help on a fee-for-service, time and material basis. The Lakeshore Fab Lab will be utilized by MCC students enrolled in the Entrepreneurial Studies Program.
ENTREPRENEURIAL, INDUSTRIAL, AND MEDICAL POSSIBILITIES
Stradal envisions entrepreneurs using the Lakeshore Fab Lab to create quick and inexpensive prototypes, to tap volunteer and faculty expertise, and to learn how to write a business plan, launch their businesses or gain hands-on skills in using the equipment.
“Manufacturing firms could use the Fab Lab to relieve bottlenecks or utilize capabilities on a cost-effective basis,” added Stradal. “Medical companies and inventors will have the ability to make prosthetics and design tools and equipment. Museums, for example, could scan and print pieces then put them in van to create a mobile museum. The possibilities are endless.”
The education opportunities at the Lakeshore Fab Lab are many, too.
“For K-12 teachers, this will be a great place for field trips supporting STEM-based learning with hands-on projects like printing a 3D rose for Mother’s Day or programming robots,” said Stradal. “For college and university students, this will be an excellent place to develop class or personal projects from across many disciplines – from architecture and art to engineering – especially if your institution’s capabilities are insufficient or tied up. “
The Lakeshore Fab Lab would provide a perfect meeting place, with storage, for area clubs, such as 4 H’s Tech Wizards or 1st Robotic clubs, while also serving community-based organization such as Big Brothers/Sisters and My Brother’s Keeper, added Stradal. MCC will be hosting Hour of Code events for young boys and girls to learn basic computer programming.
TOURS AND INFORMATION
To schedule a tour or for more information about the Lakeshore Fab Lab, contact Chris Kaminsky at (231) 777-0212 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about supporting the Lakeshore Fab Lab will monetary or equipment donations, contact the Foundation for MCC at (231) 777-0226.
The Lakeshore Fab Lab, which is sponsored by donations from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and the Fremont Area Community Foundation, includes access to the Ann and Richard Kraft Rapid Prototype Center and the Orville and Susan Crain Membership Center.