Prototyping & Fabrication Lab

The College of Business & Technology at UNK is committed to helping area businesses get started, grow and prosper!

The Fabrication Lab, found in Otto Olsen 207, can be used to create projects that require 3D printing, laser cutting, wood cutting, vinyl cutting, or small metal cutting.

The Fabrication Lab on campus is open to anyone that is willing to learn how to use the equipment.  To use the equipment, you must first attend an intro session, a written test, and a physical test.  Since the equipment is not "plug in and play," you must be introduced to the equipment in order to protect the equipment and have successful builds.

The hours of the lab vary, but preference is given to those who sign up 24 hours in advance outside of the door on the sign-up sheet.  Professor Jeff Nordhues is also available by appointment for those who may need extra assistance.

Projects that have been done in the past include lighting components, replacement parts, molds, and even furniture.  One faculty member has looked into creating an open source library of 3D printed plumbing components for developing countries, essentially letting anyone pull a plan from the library and print whatever is needed in their area.

Though the lab is open for business, it is still being set-up as people are being trained on how to use the equipment all of the time.  It is expected to be more streamlined within the next 1 to 2 years by having a wider base of people trained on the equipment.

Metal Cutter in the Fabrication Lab 2 3D Printers in the Fabrication Lab Vinyl Cutter at the Fabrication Lab


The NU Foundation provided funds to purchase a Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM) Rapid Prototyping system (Stratasys Vantage SE) which creates three-dimensional (3D) models from two-dimensional drawings using a non-hazardous plastic resin. This additive manufacturing process, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), can "grow" a CAD design into a full-sized part... tough enough to be used for manufacturing tools and end-use parts. It creates plastic parts by applying real thermoplastics in layers from the bottom up. This simplified description of the FDM process may help describe the steps to the end product.

Rapid Prototyping Image
  • A computer model is designed
  • The design gets copied to the machine
  • A thermoplastic material (ABS or PC/ABS) in the form of a filament feeds into temperature-controlled extrusion heads (1 & 5)
  • The filament is then heated to a semi-liquid state (4)
  • The head extrudes and deposits the material in thin layers (~0.127 mm) onto a foam or acrylic sheet base (3)
  • The material then solidifies and laminates itself to the preceding layer in ~0.01s (6)
  • The second nozzle squeezes out similar material for support structure if it is needed (2)

Rapid Prototyping Diagram

The FDM Vantage SE gives various University stakeholders (students, faculty, community members, businesses) the power to produce real parts from production-grade thermoplastics, direct from digital files. Materials used include ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic and PC-ABS (poly-carbonate ABS blend).

Our fee structure is a cost-recovery system based on materials used and personnel time involved. Our motive is not profit, but rather education and product/business assistance. If your business has a need for a life-sized, working model of a design, part, tool, etc, we invite you to complete the "Contact Us" form so that we can determine your needs and have one of our professionals call you to determine the scope of the project and estimate the costs of the project. You may also call or email us to discuss your needs:

To set up an appointment or to learn more, please contact:

Jay Bartek
Task Lighting
(308) 236-6707
or
Center for Rural Research & Development
emailcrrd@unk.edu
(308) 865-8199