Being a user of the Montreal first fablab echofab and being in Florida for a short visit, RS checked if any FabLab was in operation in Florida. Luckily, the only FabLab in Florida for now is in Sarasota at the GWIZ center.
I took an appointment with the “Fab Lab Foreman” Mr Eric McGrath for a guided visit to the lab.
I went on the sunday, they were very busy on saturday making Wooden Cheese for an event with the CNC.
The FabLab is open since a year, adult can be member for a montly cost of 30$ or 300$ yearly. The lab is open 5 days per week. If you are under 18, it’s free. Member must follow a security and orientation course (10$).
The lab is divided in to section, the first on “Design” is reserved for design activities and contains tools that are more sensible to dust, like a laser cutter, osciloscopes, multimeters, vinyl cutter,sewing machine. The laser cutter can cut plywood, etch acrylics and metals.
The section section “Mecanic Shop” contains various tools to work wood and metals. We find a 4′x8′ CNC router, various lathes and milling machines, TIG and MIG welding machines, wises, work benchs and various manuals tools.
At the lab, most popular tools are the Shopbot CNC Router and the Epilog laser cutting machine.
They are cuurently looking a 3d printer for the near futur.
They offer inexpensive courses like: Laser cutting and etching, Alibre CAD Design, CorelDraw X5, CNC Tormach Mill, CNC Shobot router, DIY PC Build, Arduino MicroController I et II, Sketching & Rendering for Product Design.
This allow user to use safely some machine and ease Eric “Foreman” job.
They are in operation since a year, they are studying and search various financing modes for the futur.
Per exemple, machine sponsorship, donators. The business model is in evolution but the important is to give people inexpensive access to the technology.
GWIZ : http://www.gwiz.org/
FAQ : http://www.gwiz.org/documents/FAQ.pdf
Virtual tour : http://vt.realbiz360.com/Listing-711084.html