Hello! My name is Alejandra, and I majored in Architecture in San Francisco University of Quito. I have lived in many countries during my childhood because of my father's job (Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Colombia), so I have had the luck of being acquainted with many different people and cultures. I enjoy designing and creating objects, especially those that may help me make my life more efficient. I am very interested in sustainability and the environment and did my thesis in sustainable modular architecture.

Follow my progress as I learn and study the FabAcademy 2019 course, complete the assignments and accomplish the final project.

About FabLab ZOI

Directly from FabLab ZOI website:

"FabLab ZOI es un laboratorio de investigación y desarrollo tecnológico que promueve ciencia, diseño y arte como centro del desarrollo humano para mejorar la calidad de vida en Latinoamérica. Nace en 2014 en la ciudad de Quito y ha generado proyectos de impacto en Ecuador y Latinoamérica enfocados en la inclusión y democratización de conocimientos y tecnologías emergentes. Somos parte de FabLab Network, red global de laboratorios que promueven la educación de calidad de manera distribuida y el empoderamiento tecnológico. Donde se generan programas educativos liderados por los intelectuales más destacados del mundo en diferentes áreas del conocimiento. Aquí se puede hacer realidad cualquier idea."

About FabAcademy

Directly from FabAcademy website:

"The Fab Academy is a fast paced, hands-on learning experience where students learn rapid-prototyping by planning and executing a new project each week, resulting in a personal portfolio of technical accomplishments.

It offers a distributed rather than distance educational model, students learn in local workgroups, with peers, mentors, and machines, which are then connected globally by content sharing and video for interactive classes.

Fab Academy runs in more than 70 Fab Labs, for more than 250 students per year in the largest campus of the world. Fab Academy Program is part of the Academany, the Academy of Almost Anything."

Fab Academy
Student Agreement

The Fab Academy is responsible for:

  • Teaching principles and practices of digital fabrication
  • Arranging lectures, recitations, meetings, and events for the class
  • Evaluating and providing feedback on student work
  • Offering clear standards for completing assignments
  • Certifying and archiving student progress
  • Supervising class preparation
  • Reviewing prospective students, instructors, and labs
  • Providing central staff and infrastructure for students, instructors, and labs
  • Fund-raising for costs not covered by student tuition
  • Managing and reporting on the program's finances, results, and impacts
  • Publicizing the program
  • Promoting a respectful environment free of harassment and discrimination

I am a Fab Academy student, responsible for:

  • Attending class lectures and participating in reviews
  • Developing and documenting projects assigned to introduce and demonstrate skills
  • Honestly reporting on my work
  • Working safely
  • Leaving workspaces in the same (or better) condition than I found them
  • Participating in the upkeep of my lab
  • Ensuring that my tuition to cover local and central class costs is covered
  • Promoting a respectful environment free of harassment and discrimination
Signed by committing this file in my repository,

Alejandra Loaiza



Weekly Topics

✔=Finished — =Not started yet ✘=Unfinished

  1. Principles and Practices
  2. Project Management
  3. Computer-Aided Design
  4. Computer-Controlled Cutting-
  5. Electronics Production-
  6. 3D Scanning and Printing-
  7. Electronics Design-
  8. Computer-Controlled Machining-
  9. Embedded Programming-
  10. Moulding and Casting-
  11. Input Devices-
  12. Output Devices-
  13. Applications and Implications-
  14. Embedded Networking and Communications-
  15. Mechanical Design-
  16. Machine Design-
  17. Interface and Application Programming-
  18. Wildcard Week-
  19. Invention, Intellectual Property and Business Models-
  20. Project Development -

1. Principles and practices

January 16-22


Thought Process
Defining my Project
Summarized and Specific

Back to Assignments

Thought Process

Our first assignment was to plan and sketch a potential final project.

I arrived to class with no idea of a project, even though I knew that was a major part of the FabAcademy course. However, I did have two clear objectives in mind about what I wanted my project to be about:

  1. First, I wanted the project to somehow be good for the environment. I believe that that should be one of our most important goals as a society nowadays, given the rapid decline of the worlds condition.
  2. Second, I want the project to incorporate modularity. My thesis incorporated modularity, and I believe it is an excellent way to approach a variety of projects as allows for variability and ins more flexible towards unforeseeable changes. This would also allow the project to be expanded in the future without much problem, therefore, I would be creating and object per se but rather a fabric or matt which could be used to create a variety of objects serving a large amount of functions.

I wanted to have a lot of information before deciding upon any project. Therefore, I searched projects that had been done before on fab academy, researched new inventions that had been made, and problems that could be solved by the invention of objects. With this information, I arrived upon some options for my project. For each option, I explain the why, and the pros and cons of each idea. All this was to better weigh out each idea and decide upon a project that could be possible and I would be interested in.



The first option I considered was either a self-heating mug, of a spoon like device that would maintain a beverage hot.
Why? Because my coffee was cooling too quickly, and it seemed like an object I needed.
Pros- It would seem to be a very possible and not that complicated project with the skills we would learn. Would include sensors and integration and may become a commercial object.
Cons- Does not align with the objectives I had in mind

Then there was the idea of a wand-like printing machine for students. It would be a device that I could pass on top of a page and it would print whatever I set it to
Why? So that students wouldn’t have to go to a printing machine or printing place, they could just pass this object on top of a notebook or a piece of paper regardless the size and it would print out things almost immediately. It would be portable, and they could carry it with them
Pros- seems like and interesting project and would be very useful
Cons- also sounds like a complicated process and I have no knowledge of whether the printing technology could be shrunk down in a portable object.

Another idea was that of a heating/massaging scarf. While working on a computer with poor posture, it is very common to have back and neck aches. This object was intended to alleviate those problems.
Why? help with back and neck pain
Pros- sounds like an interesting object and does not seem to have too complicated technology. Would probably be marketable.
Cons- does not align to the objectives I had in mind

As a fourth idea I proposed a food digestor-cycler to turn scraps of food into fertilizer.
Why? To change waste into something useful and help the planet
Pros- does align to one of the objectives I had in mind (good for the environment)
Cons- the composting process involves many things and would probably turn into something complicated. Also, there are many objects on amazon that already offer thins functionality, therefore it may be redundant.

My fifth idea was some sort of tracking sticker technology that would incorporate virtual reality through a smartphone. There would be these stickers with small chips integrated in them that would track the location of objects, which I would be able to see through a virtual reality app in my phone
Why? To not lose objects again
Pros- sounds like something that would be very helpful and useful
Cons- involves a lot of technology of which I have no knowledge of, so it would probably be something very complicated.

Finally, the last idea that I had would be some sort of machine that would turn wooden scraps into new, useful pieces of wood by first turning the scraps into dust, then creating a mix with that dust that would then be flattened out and dried into a new, solid piece of wood.
Why? Recycling materials would help avoid waste
Pros- would be very helpful for the environment
Cons- has a whole lot of processes behind it, is probably more than one machine. Might have to be a very big machine to do all this.

That was my initial thought process behind deciding what final project I would like to do. However, none of these ideas aligned with both objectives I had in mind, so I continued researching and came upon:

-This amazing structure-

PhD researcher Robert Kovacs and his team from the Human Computer Interaction Lab at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam had developed a SketchUp plugin that made the creation of these structures easy. You can read more about this here, and see the original article from archdaily where I got the idea here.


Defining my project

I had found a starting point for my final project. That structure caught my attention. Its structure has that which I was seeking for my project- both modularity and environmental friendliness, as it is reusing plastic bottles. The modularity in it allows an infinity of configurations, for which I could find many functions.

The shape itself I could configure to be a dome, or some sort of hut- refuge system. It enables the creation of a structure that could be both strong but cheap, so it could help provide a solution for the immigrant crisis we are now living in Ecuador, where Venezuelans fleeing their country have nowhere to be and many can be seen living on the streets or in tents until they find a place to stay. Therefore, a structure could be made that could help these people.

Something sort of like this:

This is an image to illustrate the idea, taken from this source

As I mentioned, the possibilities are endless. I want to create something that can be a shelter, but the same modules can also be used to create a sculpture, a pavilion, a table, chairs… many many things. By inserting different sensors into these modules or creating modules that can be combined with the others, a solar panel sensor could be incorporated which would charge a battery which will later be used to turn on a lightbulb at night. There could also be some sort of air filter process so that it could be placed as a sculpture somewhere in the city that could also help clean the air. It could be purely aesthetic, incorporating a series of lights that change colors and light up according to sensors that sense the movement of people around it, in case it was a pavilion. These are only a few of the possibilities of this project.

In shape, the way that is project works is using bottles as beams, joining two bottles through their bottoms to create a beam. These beams are in turn connected through joints to create a structure. The joints must be analyzed to either be laser cut or 3D printed in order to have the correct angles and be able to create the right shapes for the structure to work and for something interesting to be formed.



As part of the investigations of possible shapes of the project, I experimented with a dome-like structure which I had designed during my first year of architecture. It was during a model-making class, in which we were experimenting with reciprocal frame structures (self-supporting). I used a combination of a basic structure with the da Vinci bridge which would create a dome. Click the button to access the file.

Reciprocal Frame Structure Plan

I created a general sketch in cad, then created the pieces and laser cut them in order to test it out.

It worked well, however the cuts on the pieces were too deep, which in turn made the dome flatten out and not be as concave as I would have liked. This could be fixed by reducing the depth of the cuts, and by tweaking with this measure, I could adjust dome to have a different height.



This week was all about searching for an idea for my final project. I am happy with the idea I have right now, with this recycled bottle beam system, and I hope to be able to develop this idea further during the following weeks.

These are my initial musings.

During the next weeks I will continue working on this idea to refine it and focus it better.

Go on to see how this project progresses during the second week


Summarized and Specific:

Learning outcomes:

Communicate an initial project proposal

My project proposal is to create a modular structure through 3d modeled joints and empty plastic bottles, embedded with sensors and technology so that it can have a variety of functions such as filtering air and incorporating lights.

Have you:

Sketched your final project idea/s?
Described what it will do and who will use it

It can fulfill a variety of functions, such as being a shelter, a pavilion, a sculpture, or anything else that can be created with these modules.

If it where a shelter, it can help refugees or homeless. If it were a pavilion, it would be for people to walk through it and around it. If it were a sculpture, it will be for people to see and probably interact with it.


Back to Assignments

2. Project management

January 23-29


Creating my site
Steps for Uploading
Student Agreement Uploading
Project Management
Git Tutorial
Version Control Protocols
Test Project in GIT
Summarized and Specific

Back to Assignments

Creating my site

This week’s assignment was to build a personal site describing me and my final project and upload it to the class archive. We are using GitLab to host our sites.

First, in order to be able to create a site (or modify and existing template) I needed to understand HTML and CSS, or markdown. I chose to learn HTML through Codecademy and managed to get more than halfway through their HTML introductory free course. I plan to finish it, and learn CSS, but for now, what I learned was enough to create my site.

I checked the website HTML5 UP and found a template I really liked, called Dimension, which I chose to use as the base for my site. The entirety of the code of the website (all the assignments, final projects, etc.) is in one html document, so I am using a lot of whitespace in order for everything to stay organized and legible.

I started tweaking the template, changing images, changing the buttons and the characteristics of the paragraphs until I liked how it turned out. I worked on it locally in my computer until I was satisfied with it, before pushing it unto GitLab.

In order to clone the repository into my computer, I downloaded and used Git Bash terminal. First I started playing around with the files, deleting and then adding the original files just to see how everything worked. I got a lot of error messages by doing this, where the commits failed when I deleted certain important files.

Also, I started playing around with the merge command, and noticed that if I changed something in the cloud and then differently in my computer and pulled or tried to merge the files the one that would predominate was the one in the cloud, and it would overwrite the changes I had done in my computer (cloned repository). I had a few errors with this, and eventually decided to not do any changes directly on the cloud.

After fixing what I had done, I decided to upload my site, erasing the template site that was up. It worked well, and I soon got the hang of the pull, merge, add, commit, and push commands on git. Everything was going as expected, and the site was up and running.

There are still quite a few things that I want to change on it, or add to it, but for now it is good.


Steps for uploading

First, I cloned the repository from GIT into a folder in my computer. Personally, I prefer to not work on that folder directly, so as to avoid making mistakes on it, and have a copy of that folder in which I do all changes to the index file, check that it is done correctly, and then copy It to the Git repository clone folder and then add, commit, and push the changes onto the cloud. That way, I double check everything is working well before uploading, given that with GIT version control it is really hard to erase the history of any mistake made.


Student Agreement Uploading

Also, I signed and uploaded the student agreement to my site. It was in markdown, so first I changed it into the same format in HTML, added it as a page in my website, and created the link in my about page.

Click here to see the student agreement.



To add images, I still have not used a dedicated program to modify them to reduce their size, I have only used the snip tool from windows with which I create a smaller version of the original image that has a small size. I downloaded ImageMagick and understand how to use it, but since the snipping tool gives me small sized images already, I did not see the need to shrink them further. I also tried shrinking them in Photoshop, but did not manage to reduce their size considerably. However, I will look further into it and will try other programs probably during next week.


I tried again both photoshop (lowering the resolution and image quality) and Image Magick (resizing) and decided once again to stay with windows snipping tool. I will probably continue with this tool, as it lowers the size of an image, but I find it easier to visualize and control the quality.


Project Management

I have not gotten around to investigating on the project management programs that were recommended, but I plan on doing that soon. Meanwhile, in my FabLab we have a calendar with the weeks specified, so I made a plan of what I should do each week in order to work on my project, and what I would do for each assignment.

--- edit 6 February 2019
Checked various project management tools. Until now, I like trello very much and will use it, if not for fabacademy, certainly for organizing my personal projects. ---


Git Tutorial

As part of this week’s assignment, we were required to work through a git tutorial. For this, worked on the 4 tutorials that are on the main git webpage, frim this link.

The first tutorial explained what version control is, and it helped me understand what exactly git was, and why it is so important on collaborative projects. It talked about the process of creating, saving, editing, and then saving again, which is the part where version control becomes so important. Being able to check what changed, who changed it and why they changed it helps a lot in collaborative projects.

The following tutorial explained what GIT was, how it works (it is locally enabled), it talked about history control and how to merge the work of people when they work parallelly.

The one after that explained how to start a new project with git, to configure username and email, and gave us the main commands, such as add, commit, merge.

The last tutorial explained some important points of git, such as being a tool which worked as a journal, not a backup, and it being able to copy content as opposed to files.

I found the tutorials very enlightening, and I understood much better what git was and how it worked.


Version Control Protocols

Other options of version control are Mercurial and Bitkeeper , apart from the one that I am using (GIT).

Some commands that I use for GIT:

Clone: copy a repository on the web to my computer.
Pull: retrieve the remote files into my own repository, checking to see if there have been any changes, and if there have then giving you the option to merge.
Merge: update files by mixing the edits I have made with the edits other people have made.
Push: to send the changes and commits that I have made to the files in my personal computer to the remote repository.


Test Project in GIT

As requested, I also created a new project in my cloud on git. I found this to be very easy and now understand better how GIT works.



I enjoyed this week’s assignment, as I had never understood how websites worked, let alone create one. I liked the availability of templates and enjoyed learning how to modify them and start working on them. Also, I found GIT to be an amazing tool for cloning a repository and adding changes to a remote repository.


Summarized and Specific:


  • ✔ Build a personal site describing you and your final project.
  • ✔ Upload it to the class archive.
  • ✔ Work through a git tutorial.

Learning outcomes:

Explore and use website development tools
Identify and utilize version control protocols

Have you?

Made a website and described how you did it
Introduced yourself
Documented steps for uploading files to archive
Pushed to the class archive
Signed and uploaded Student Agreement

Back to Assignments

3. Computer Aided design

January 30- February 5


Reviewing Programs:
Image Magick

Summarized and Specific

Back to Assignments


As a starting point for this week, we have to download and try as many programs as we can. As Neil said, the goal of this week is to use the programs, not master them. Having a background in architecture, I have experience in photoshop and Illustrator (2D); sketchup, rhino, grasshopper, and AutoCAD (3D), so I will document my experience with the other programs that I have not used.

First, I downloaded many programs. Here is the list of programs I want to try, and some of which I already know:

  • In 2d raster
    • Gimp and mypaint (try)
    • Photoshop (know) and image magick (know sort of, tried last week)
  • 2D vector
    • Inkscape, FreeCad (try)
    • Illustrator (know)
  • 3D design
    • Blender, freecad, solidworks, onshape, fuscion, xdesign, antimony, grabcad viewer (try)
    • Sketchup, rhino, grasshopper, Autocad (know)
  • Game engine
    • Unreal (try)
  • Simulation
    • Fusion 360
  • Audio, video
    • Open shot video editor
    • Audacity


Reviewing Programs


It all started well with gimp. I started with a blank canvas and added a few images from the internet into it. The tool icons seemed to be straightforward and similar to what I have used in photoshop. However, at first, I didn’t understand how to use the different selection tools with the move tool to move only the selection. Had to cut and then paste in order to be able to move things. I still don’t know how to do it any other way. The measure tool seems interesting, but not very useful for me. I don’t really understand how to use the move tool. The shear tool seems pretty interesting, as does the handle tool. I hadn’t used those before. I don’t really understand the difference between perspective and transform. Cage transform also seems to do interesting things to the image. I liked the ease of the gradient tool. The pencils and brush tools and calligraphy tools were nice, and it was really nice that they worked with the touchscreen of my computer. Most times I have problems in photoshop and illustrator on getting them to register input from the touchscreen. The clone and heal tools seemed very similar also, but they were working very well. I did not understand the clone with perspective tool, but that was probably because the image was completely transformed already. Dodge and burn tools also worked the same as I remembered from photoshop. I dislike that I must click directly on the image that is on a layer to move that layer, since some images can be blurry or with transparency so it would be complicated. I prefer the way this works in photoshop where you must click on the layer in order to move that. Making and deleting layers and layer groups also seemed to be easy. I do not understand why the program automatically created new tabs though… or perhaps that is something that I am unknowingly doing. I like the interface of the program, where I have layers on one side and tools and options on the other. The rulers that surround the image are also a nice addition. I liked the whole array of options for saving the image, and all the possible file types to which I could save.

Overall, I liked the program and the options it gives, although because of the selection moving thing and because I am more accustomed to other commands, I prefer photoshop.



The program seems very nice and the interface looks simple, at least in comparison to gimp. It started with this every nice paper texture background, and it also works well with my touchscreen. I like how the lines created look very natural and hand-drawn. I love all the brush options that there are. Even just making squiggles already looks like a work of art. There are so many brush options…. i thought I had gone through all of them, but it turns out I hadn’t seen the arrow on top which means there are dozens more.

I found the tool options panel, it had just been hidden. It is a nice addition to have that turned on, in order to modify size and color and everything. I like the way the color palette is displayed, as it seems it can be configured to only display the colors I want it to. That looks like it could be helpful when creating a drawing.

The tool to draw straight and curved lines is also nice. I like how the program has an information line at the bottom that lets you know which keys to press to get different results and give you information. The bucket tool is also very nice and easy to use. There is also the layer option which is good. I like the way the you move around the canvas, it feels a lot like AutoCAD (using the scroll wheel to zoom). I also like the way the canvas is (or seems to be) infinite, and how you can tweak this using the image frame. Also, the option to draw symmetrically is a very nice addition. The options to move the canvas around, rotate it and mirror it are also good. It exports images in a lot of formats.

Overall it is a very nice program, and I really like the types of lines that can be drawn with it. I will probably use it again as it has different functionalities than the one I normally use for raster 2d (photoshop).Overall it is a very nice program, and I really like the types of lines that can be drawn with it. I will probably use it again as it has different functionalities than the one I normally use for raster 2d (photoshop).



I downloaded this program last week, to reduce the size of my files. Although it did work, I preferred to use a different program instead. You can read about that here.

This time, I wanted to see al the tools and things it can do, so I started experimenting with the options it has. The flip and flop options were good, the crop option was predictable, but the chop option was really fun. It’s the first time I have ever seen that option. I don’t really see the functionality of it, but it is very nice. The shear option is also good. The roll option is nice, and could probably be helpful to verify if patterns or textures are seamless. I don’t understand what the trim edges option does.

Overall, I think it’s a good program to do basic things to images. The option to save to many image formats is also very good.


That’s it for 2d raster software. My program of choice is still Photoshop, but MyPaint seems very nice to create images that look hand drawn.

Starting on 2d vector software:


As an initial impression, Inkspace has a nice interface with plenty of working space and a nice array of tools on both sides of the screen. It is nice to have the color palette at the bottom of the screen. This program seems to work very similarly to illustrator, with options to select and move paths individually. I like the path tools, especially the calligraphy one. It seems to be harder to set the colors, especially changing the fill and stroke settings from the paths. Also, the perspective tool has a nice functionality and is interesting to use.

Overall, I prefer Adobe Illustrator for vector drawing for design projects.


Starting out with freecad, I decided to use a sample architecture model. This let me see how the tools work on a model without having to create the model myself. I did not like the way the orbit tool works in comparison to other programs that I have used, such as sketchup and revit, as these allow you to orbit the model without losing the orientation (z vector stays the same) of it, or allow you to go back to this easily. However, I did like that this orbit tool gives you the option of making the model continue rotating after you are done clicking it, whish is good to analyze it better. I like how freecad gives you information about each element and allows you to change it in properties, but I did not like that it isn’t easy to configure commands to use with it, like I can in AutoCAD. I’m sure that there is an easier way to use it, but until now I find the buttons and controls hard to find, and messy in comparison to what I am used to in cad. Also, I miss the command line that I have seen in other programs, which gives you more information about certain tools. I like the constraint options that are given between lines, that seems to be very useful when creating objects.

Overall, I like the constraint options in FreeCad, but for line vector drawing, in both 2d and 3d I prefer AutoCAD, at least until I learn how to use this program better.


From the beginning, I like the way blender works. It is easy to understand how to move objects, pan and orbit. Also, the orbit tool by default keeps the Z vector vertical, so it is how I am accustomed. I also like the different options that are given, such as painting objects. There is also the tool for inserting objects, which seemed to be easy, as well as modifying the inserted objects to change their size and dimensions. However, while playing around with the program soon I started to have trouble with the panels and gave up on it.

Overall, I think it is a very interesting program, I’ve heard that it is very good for creating renders, and I would like to learn how to use it better.

An architect friend from my university was teaching me a little of how to use blender for rendering. Now I am really interested in learning how to use it better, seeing all the characteristics and the amazing effects that can be achieved with this program. Also, my friend told me that there are more tutorials and forums regarding this program, as it is open source, therefore it is easier to learn. --


I tried out audacity as I was told it was going to be very important to edit audio for the videos in the final project. I opened the program and first imported two Adele songs and started playing around with the effects and the tools. I liked that it seemed easy to use and has nice effects. Also, I like the option of being able to load many different tracks.


I have used a few programs for editing videos before, such as Windows Movie Maker, Apple’s iMovie, and Camtasia Studio. All of these have had a similar interface, therefore I understood quickly how Openshot worked. So far, from what I tried it worked well and it was easy to use. I like that there are 5 track options, because that gives you a lot of flexibility.

For animated texts, I like that there is the option to create lots of interesting texts effects by using Blender, just by adjusting the path to the blender executable. However, it does take a while to render the title, although it is worth it for the effects.


I like Fusion’s interface. It reminds me of SketchUp interface as it has drawings of what each tool does. Also, when I first opened the software it gave me the option of watching different tutorials to understand how to use the software properly. I tried a few options for creating an object and then making holes in this object, changing the initial sketch and watching the subsequent object change as well. I like the options that fusion has and the very friendly interface. I also tried to use the simulation option but with few results, I’ll have to watch a few tutorials to understand how that works. Overall, I did like the software a lot and it seems to be friendly enough to learn the basics quickly.


I tried the software Unreal Engine, mostly because it was mentioned during class and I thought it sounded very interesting. It’s a very large software as it weighs around 6 gb. It has a lot of options and functions, and I liked how there is the play mode option so you can walk around the area as if you were a character in the game. I don’t think it will help me very much in creating project models, but it looks very interesting in rendering and creating landscapes.

Summarized and Specific:


  • ✘ Model (raster, vector, 2D, 3D, render, animate, simulate, ...) a possible final project, and post it on your class page.

Learning outcomes:

Evaluate and select 2D and 3D software
Demonstrate and describe processes used in modelling with 2D and 3D software

Have you?

Modelled experimental objects/part of a possible project in 2D and 3D software(FreeCad) ✔(Fusion360) ✔(Blender) ✔
Shown how you did it with words/images/screenshots
Included your original design files


Back to Assignments

4. Computer controlled

February 6-12


Group Assignment
FreeCad Tutorial
T-shirt Project

Summarized and Specific

Back to Assignments


In Fablab ZOI, there are three students who are working in person in the fablab: Jorge, Danny and me.

For this group assignment, we divided the laser cutter tasks between us, so I did the drawing and lasercutting of acrylic in order to find the KERF of the machine we use at the lab (Kerf being the “width” of the laser, so to speak). In order to do this, I made an array of squares with a square inside, and changed the settings in the program so each pair of squares would be cut with a different speed and power.

For the first row, the power remained constant while the speed changed in steps of 10. For the second row, the speed remained constant while the power changed, again in steps of 10. The center square is the one with the speed and power settings that our lab suggested (speed 30, power 60) for this material at this thickness.

While I was doing this, my lab mates were working on the parametric design of the “combs” which will vary thickness in order to establish the proper measure for creating joints.

After doing the tests, we found the best power and speed for cutting acrylic 2mm thick. From the test we also found the kerf for the parameters which best cut the acrylic without burning it.

In the computer, I had designed squares that were 2cm wide with a 1cm square right in the center of them. Therefore, the edge of the resulting square should be 0.5cm wide and the inner square should be 1cm. however, while measuring it, we noticed that the inner square was not 1cm, but .98cm, which indicated that the laser had cut 0.01 cm more on each side, resulting in the laser kerf (or the thickness of the laser so to speak) being 0.02cm wide.

This also correlated with the findings of my friends with the comb. They had done various widths for the holes of the comb, around 1.9mm, 2mm, 2.1mm, 2.2mm and so on. *

Also, before this we had done some experiments with the laser cutter, cutting and engraving textures, as well as understanding how the laser works and the order that had to be followed to turn it on and off, as well as the different parts of the machine. There I did a few tests on different materials with some designs.

For these designs the software that I used was Illustrator to create the design (or in the case of the 3d ring design, to make a mask of an image), then exported it in dxf to cad, fixed the size and some of the lines, and then passed it to RDWorks software to prepare it for the lasercutter, with different layers to cut, engrave, or scan.

The order in which the laser cutter is used:

  1. First turn on the chiller. It is what makes sure the machine doesn’t overheat, so it is important to always have it on. You can even leave it on for a while after the machine is off to allow it to cool completely
  2. Now turn on a big switch (in this particular laser cutter, a blue switch) without which you can’t turn on the the machie, the air pump and the extractor
  3. Now, turn on the switches at the side of the machine, which turn on the air pump and the extractor. Some machines have all this integrated, this particular one doesn’t.
  4. Now turn on the machine itself, for which you have to turn the safety knob to the open positon.
  5. After all of this, you can load the file which is in .rd format, either by plugging it in through a usb, by plugging your computer through a usb, or by connecting to the wireless network of the lasercutter and sending it trough there.
  6. Make sure the distance from the head of the lens and the material is right, otherwise adjust it.
  7. Use the “frame” button on the machine so that you can check that the cutting area fits in the material that has been placed.
  8. Now, finally, turn on the laser and send the file so that the machine cuts it. NEVER leave the laser cutting machine alone, it is very dangerous and something could catch fire or get very damaged.
  9. Allow some time to pass before opening the top of the machine and getting out the material, as the laser has caused smoke and that has to be absorbed by the extractor



The little experience with freecad that I had, I did not enjoy. I found it to be a complicated and confusing program, despite knowing all the benefits it could bring me. However, in my lab it is highly encouraged – if not mandatory- to use this software, therefore I realized I needed to give it another try. So, I started with a few short tutorials in youtube.




As part of the vinyl cutting assignment, my lab decided to work as a group. We would design stickers for t-shirts, so that we could all have our own fab academy shirts. We decided to keep a few things from the design constant, while varying others. We wanted to create two different vinyl cutouts which we would stamp to a t-shirt, one would be a FabAcademy 2019 cutout and the other would be the FabLab ZOI logo. I vectorized these two cutouts in illustrator taking an image and tracing it with the mask option. Then I exported the resulting vectors into silhouette studio software, as it is the program for the vinyl cutter we have available in the lab, the CAMEO.

After doing a few tests with the strength, passes, and speed, we arrived at the correct parameters for the material we were using.

After that, I sent a test with the FabLab ZOI logo, and it worked very well. I will soon iron it on a surface to verify the usefulness of the material when trying to transfer it to a t-shirt. Click on the button to download the files in dxf and studio3 format.

FabLab ZOI Vector

The process for cutting something on the vinyl cutter is:

  1. Prepare a vector file. I used illustrator for this, and then opened it in the vinyl cutters software by saving it to dxf.
  2. Prepare it in the vinyl cutter software, by specifying the material to be cut (and therefore the speed, force, and number of passes) for the lines. Different materials can be specified for different lines, if so desired.
  3. Load the material onto the machine, with the cutting board/grid underneath. The loading process is similar to that of loading a sheet of paper onto a plotter, in my opinion.
  4. Connect the computer to the machine and send the file.
  5. After the job is done, unload and remove the material.




Summarized and Specific:

Laser Cutter


  • Group assignment
    • ✔ Characterize your lasercutter, making lasercutter test part(s), making test part(s) that vary cutting settings and dimensions.
  • Individual assignments
    • ✔ Cut something on the vinylcutter
    • ✘ Design, lasercut, and document a parametric press-fit construction kit, which can be assembled in multiple ways. Account for the lasercutter kerf.

Learning outcomes:

Demonstrate and describe parametric 2D modelling processes
Identify and explain processes involved in using the laser cutter.
Develop, evaluate and construct the final prototype

Have you?

Explained how you parametrically designed your files
Shown how you made your press-fit kit
Included your design files and photos of your finished project

Vinyl Cutting


There is no specific project that is focused on this very useful tool. There are a range of ways you might utilise it throughout the programme, or your local instructor may set a specific project. You might make:

  • stickers
  • flexible circuit boards
  • a textured surface/relief pattern
  • screenprint resists/stencils

Ensure that you have used it in some way during this time and met the objectives below.

Learning outcomes

Identify and explain processes involved in using this machine.
Design and create the final object

Have you?

Explained how you drew your files?
Shown how you made your vinyl project?
Included your design files and photos of your finished project?


Back to Assignments

5. Electronics production

February 13-19


Making a PCB

Summarized and Specific

Back to Assignments


As the starting point for this week, we are going to create a PCB (Printed Circuit Board). In order to do this, and in order to understand it, Roberto was teaching us how mods works, and how to use it to get the g-code establishing parameters for the toolpath.

The parameters we will use are:

  • Tool diameter 1/64 for tracing, 1/32 for cutting (around 0.4mm and 0.8mm respectively)
  • Cut depth for tracing 0.5 and for cutting 0.8 (with max depth 2.8)
  • Offset number for tracing 3 and for cutting 1
  • Offset stepover 0.5

After that, we downloaded Alex’s PCB and modified it a little bit (nothing from the circuits, just the text and layout in order to make it our own) and prepared the outline and the trace. For this, I used photoshop, although I had some trouble as when I tried to open the original file and modify it, the program didn’t allow me to create any more layers. I wanted to use layers in photoshop in order to make sure that the outline and the trace went well together, as I modified the size of the board.

After trying it out a little bit, I embedded both files into a new file, and that way was able to work in layers. I added my name at the side, changed the outline just a little bit, and then saved the files in 1000 dpi and loaded them into the mods G-code mill 2d png program.



Summarized and Specific


  • Group assignment
    • - Characterize the specifications of your PCB production process
  • Individual assignment
    • - Make an in-circuit programmer by milling the PCB, then optionally, trying other processes.

Learning outcomes

Described the process of milling, stuffing, de-bugging and programming -
Demonstrate correct workflows and identify areas for improvement if required -

Have you?

Shown how you made and programmed the board? -
Explained any problems and how you fixed them -
Included a ‘hero shot’ of your board -


Back to Assignments

6. 3D Scanning and printing

Work in progress

7. Electronics design

Work in progress

8. Computer controlled machining

Work in progress

9. Embedded programming

Work in progress

10. Molding and casting

Work in progress

11. Input devices

Work in progress

12. Output devices

Work in progress

13. Applications and implications

Work in progress

14. Networking and communications

Work in progress

15. Mechanical design

Work in progress

16. Interface and application

Work in progress

17. Machine design

Work in progress

18. Wildcard week

Work in progress

19. Invention, intellectual property and income

Work in progress

20. Project development

Work in progress

Final Project Chronicle

Work in progress

Final Project

Work in progress


Any questions?
Send me a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible!




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Name Description Price
Item One Ante turpis integer aliquet porttitor. 29.99
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Item One Ante turpis integer aliquet porttitor. 29.99
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