IA FabLab (IA 351.01, Fall 2014)

Class Details

Location: Station 101
Time: Mondays, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Instructor: Marty McGuire; Email: rmcguire@mica.edu; Hours by appointment.
Class Website: http://marty-mcguire.com/iafl-2014fall/

Course Description

This class will cover the basics of 2D and 3D design fabrication in the MICA dFab lab. Students will learn to work with a variety of 3D printers as well as extended techniques integrating the hand made and the digitally printed to create robotic arts, sound, games and new materials projects. 3D laser scanning will also be covered. The class is ideally suited for students whose practice incorporates electronics/robotics, sculpture, games, and sound, and who wish to complement their skills with advanced and experimental fabrication techniques.

Course Goals

This course is intended as a hands-on introduction to digital fabrication tools. We will cover open source software and hardware which will enable you to design, fabricate, and share 2- and 3-dimensional forms. You will learn how to maintain and operate commercial laser cutters and open source 3D printers such as the RepRap Mendel. Further, we'll be examining the nature of digital fabrication and open source culture within a creative arts context.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you will...

Important Dates

Required Materials


Grades are based on attendance, class participation, timely completion of assignments and their overall quality, and individual progress.

Grading System

Grading Guidelines

Student Responsibilities

During class, you are expected to work on exercises or assignments. This is to provide you with in-class time for discussion, troubleshooting, getting/giving help, or whatever else you may need.

This class is intended to be a peer learning environment. I not only encourage you, but expect you, to support, respect, and talk with one another during class.

As a citizen of the classroom, you are expected to attend each class and to actively participate in class exercises, discussions, and critiques.

Projects & Homework
All projects and homework are expected to be completed by the start of class on the assigned due date. All work turned in late will be deducted a full letter grade per week.

Collaboration on projects is welcomed! However, each team member must carry their own weight in the development and documentation of each project.

Each collaborator will fill out a Peer Review form, which will allow you to discretely provide feedback on your collaborators. Grades will be given individually, and this feedback will be taken into account.

You will be responsible for providing edited documentation of all significant classwork, including projects & exercises.

For projects, this includes all of the following:

For exercises or other classwork, please submit the following:

All submissions must be neatly organized in a folder containing the title and your last name. All documentation should be thoughtfully prepared or edited prior to submission.

Project documentation will always be due the week after a critique, to allow you time to address any issues raised, if desired. Exercise/classwork documentation is due by the end of the semester, but can be submitted at any time.

Backing Up Your Work
It is your responsibility to back up and archive your work. Be sure to save often and make multiple copies of your in-progress projects during the semester.

Because you will be using GitHub to manage your projects this should be no problem.

Getting Help
We'll be covering a lot of material this semester which may be completely new to many of you. Please keep in mind that acquiring any new skill can be slow and difficult process. It is important that you let me know as soon as possible if you are ever unclear or confused about something.

Last Minute Requests
I'm deeply invested in everyone's success in this course, so I would like to help you as much as possible. However, it is important that you contact me as soon as possible. Otherwise, do not be surprised if your request for help received early on Monday morning goes unanswered. I am normally responsive to email during regular business hours (~9am - 5pm) and much less responsive outside of those hours.

A word of advice: 3D printing takes time and is fraught with all sorts of pitfalls which can/will cause you headaches. Prints will fail and designs will need multiple revisions. Don't wait until the last minute to start projects and homework and you should be fine.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Any student who may need an accommodation based on the potential impact of a disability should contact the Learning Resource Center at 410-225-2416, in Bunting 458, to establish eligibility and coordinate reasonable accommodations.

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

It is the responsibility of faculty and students to follow health and safety guidelines relevant to their individual activities, processes, and to review MICA’s Emergency Action Plan and attend EHS training. It is each faculty member’s responsibility to coordinate with the EHS Office to ensure that all risks associated with their class activities are identified and to assure that their respective classroom procedures mirror the EHS and Academic Department guidelines. Each of these policies and procedures must be followed by all students and faculty. Most importantly, faculty are to act in accordance with all safety compliance, state and federal, as employees of this college and are expected to act as examples of how to create art in a way to minimize risk, and reduce harm to themselves and the environment. Faculty must identify and require appropriate personal protective equipment for each art making process, for each student, in all of their classes, when applicable. Students are required to purchase personal protection equipment appropriate for their major. Those students who do not have the proper personal protection equipment will not be permitted to attend class until safe measures and personal protection are in place.


Each discipline within the arts has specific and appropriate means for students to cite or acknowledge sources and the ideas and material of others used in their own work. Students have the responsibility to become familiar with such processes and to carefully follow their use in developing original work.

MICA will not tolerate plagiarism, which is defined as claiming authorship of, or using someone else's ideas or work without proper acknowledgment. Without proper attribution, a student may NOT replicate another's work, paraphrase another's ideas, or appropriate images in a manner that violates the specific rules against plagiarism in the student's department. In addition, students may not submit the same work for credit in more than one course without the explicit approval of the all of the instructors of the courses involved.

When an instructor has evidence that a student has plagiarized work submitted for course credit, the instructor will confront the student and impose penalties that may include failing the course. In the case of a serious violation or repeated infractions from the same student, the instructor will report the infractions to the department chair. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the department chair may then report the student to the Office of Academic Affairs, which may choose to impose further penalties, including suspension or expulsion.

Class Schedule (subject to change)

Week Date Topics Major Deliverables
1 9/8 Introduction to open source 3D printing toolchain
2 9/15 Operating and maintaining the lab's RepRaps
3 9/22 OpenSCAD basics, GitHub basics
4 9/29 Project 1 Work Session
5 10/6 Project 1 Presentations
6 10/13 Introduction to laser cutting toolchain Project 1 Documentation Due
7 10/20 Fall Break
8 10/27 OpenSCAD Advanced, Parametric and Procedural Forms
9 11/3 GitHub Advanced, Project Documentation
10 11/10 Project 2 Work Session
11 11/17 Project 2 Presentations
12 11/24 3D Scanning Project 2 Documentation Due
13 12/1 Materials, Project 3 Work Session
14 12/8 Project 3 Work Session
15 12/15 Project 3 Presentations Project 3 Documentation due by 12/19