October 14, 2011, marked the grand opening of the College of Design's Digital Fabrication Lab, or DigiFabLab - a state-of-the-art digital prototyping and fabrication facility, and already it is creating a buzz on and off campus. The DigiFabLab, located in Rapson Hall on the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus, demonstrates the U of M's dedication to providing cutting edge technology to support and enhance the academic experience. Since its grand opening, students at the University of Minnesota have been able to print prototype designs on the four brand-new 3D printers, which has cut the time between concept and finished product from weeks to hours.
The speed and precision of the printers give students the chance to make mistakes and take design risks, then to get their hands on a physical form before making changes. The plastic models the printers produce are tougher than the gypsum models that they had previously been using, and they can be used to test load strength and the function of mechanical components.
The DigiFabLab is just one of many leading technologies offered to students by the College of Design. The College of Design will unveil "first-of-its-kind" virtual reality installation in the upcoming month. Once complete, it will be the largest virtual reality facility of its type at an educational institution in the country.
Below: Adam Poetter, a senior at the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, who pulls a partly finished 3D rendering of an arch structure out of a Dimension printer; and a close-up of the finished arch.