Bishop-Favaro Hall, 1345 Perry St., Blacksburg, VA 24061
The BuildLab is currently closed for the summer.
Monday: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Thursday: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Friday: 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Weekends and Holidays: Closed
About the BuildLAB
The BuildLAB is an initiative launched by the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. Established in 2013, the lab's goal is to embody Virginia Tech's philosophy of applied learning by fostering a supportive environment for innovation of all kinds.
The BuildLAB's focus is on the process of discovery rather than the direct purpose, based on the belief that the most interesting and impactful discoveries emerge from trial and error, exploration, curiosity, and serendipity. The lab is equipped with a wide range of tools and machinery, primarily concentrating on wood and composite materials, to support this approach. Moreover, the lab features an extensive array of computer-controlled machines, inspired by the 'Fab-Lab' concept. The aim is to create anything out of any material, ranging from small to large and from personal to universal.
A student-led team manages the BuildLAB's daily operations, setting ambitious goals and allowing their instincts to guide their approach. The lab's usage ultimately shapes its development and adaptation to align with the broader objectives of the Virginia Tech community. With this in mind, the lab team welcomes users, potential users, visitors, and other interested parties to visit and contribute to the BuildLAB experience.
The BuildLAB is open to all students who complete the six required safety classes through the Environmental Health and Safety website. The required training includes the following classes:
- Lockout-Tagout Awareness
- HAZCOM RTK
- Machine Shop Safety
- Hand and Power Tool Safety (Located under Machine Shop)
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Portable Fire Extinguishers (Must retake every 2 years)
Once you have taken these required training sessions, come check in with a lab tech, and they will sign you in.
- CNC with a cutting area of 5 ft by 10 ft with a z of 16 inches
- Laser with a work area of 1 foot by 2 feet
- Laser with a work area of 2.5 feet by 3.5 feet
- Ender Pro 3 v2 direct drive with a bed of 220mm by 220mm
- Ender Pro 3 v2 with a bed of 220mm by 220mm
- Lulzbot with a bed of 250mm by 250mm
Assume all woodworking tools are operational unless stated otherwise.
- Check-in with a lab assistant.
- Complete safety quizzes.
- ALWAYS wear safety glasses and appropriate personal protective equipment.
- ALWAYS clean up the work area and put away tools.
- If you do break any of the rules, we do reserve the right to deny access to the lab since safety is our main priority.
The computer numerical control (CNC) system uses Fusion and Aspire software to convert 3D models and cut them out with a router bit. Wood, plastics, foam, cork, and other materials can be used on this machine. Topographic maps, models, and parts of a design are examples of types of projects made on the CNC.
- All cuts will be scheduled and overlooked by a lab tech.
- Every project must be sent to the staff as a Fusion 360 file (.f3d), step (.stp), or SolidWorks (.sldprt). We cannot currently use Rhino, Grasshopper, nor mesh files since we cannot easily fix any problems. If you have a drawing (.dxf), we will only do one sheet or 20 objects worth of CAD work. This can easily be done in Fusion, Rhino, Inventer, SolidWorks, and many other programs.
- The BuildLAB staff currently use Fusion 360 to set up the Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) so please give them two business days to set up the CAM if you don’t know how to do it, and one business day if you can set it up. If your file has flawed lines or a corrupt part, we will ask you to fix it, as it is not our responsibility. Should you need help, please come in with your laptop and we will try to assist you.
- All materials are to be provided by the user. The BuildLAB does have a large assortment of bits open to everyone, but if you would like to buy your own, we have SAE collets from 1/16 inch shaft to 5/8 inch shaft. We also have metric collects, but we do not use them.
- If a class is being taught and the CNC is too loud, we have the right to stop the cut.
- If the project is out of control, we have the right to cancel the cut.
- Clean up and removal of all materials is the responsibility of the user.
BANNED MATERIALS FOR CNC:
- MDF using a 1/2 bit or larger for sheet goods
- MDF for topogrophies
- Warped sheet goods
- Aluminum that does not have a hold down jig
- The CNC currently cannot cut aluminum since we do not have the proper hold-downs and tooling.
- The smallest project for cutouts is 8 inches by 6 inches.
- If you plan on cutting out plywood, the material must have less than a 1-inch deflection or bend over 96 inches so the vacuum table can pull it down.
- The CNC cutting area is 5 ft by 10 ft with a z of 16 inches, but can change depending on the bit height.
- Check-in with a lab assistant to receive the power cord or key.
- If it is your first time using the laser, a lab assistant will assist you with your project.
- The sizes of the two laser beds are 24" x 36" and 36" x 48", respectively.
VECTOR CUTTING WITH INKSCAPE:
- Select the lines to be cut.
- Edit the lines to .001 RGB in and red.
- Print the file as a PDF.
- Open the PDF reader that you printed to and print to the UCP driver.
VECTOR CUTTING WITH AUTOCAD:
- Select the lines to be cut.
- Edit the lines to .001 in and red.
- Export the file as a PDF.
- Make sure the letter size is edited to your dimensions.
- Print PDF to "PLS3.6" laser.
- Edit the file to the correct position.
- Select the red vector cut to full power.
- If there is no engraving, then set the black cut to zero.
- Set the speed to 2% on the red vector cut.
- Press play.
- Please have your file as an STL file type.
- If you need to make changes to your file, please provide it as a Fusion 360 (.f3d) or SolidWorks (.sldprt) file.
- If you are not in the Building Construction department and need more than 50 grams of filament, you will need to provide your own.
- We will run a print up to three times. If it keeps failing, we will ask that you change your file or ask a more experienced lab assistant to try.
- The two smaller 3D printers are Ender Pro 3 printers, which have a bed of 220mm by 220mm, while the LulzBot has a bed of 250mm by 250mm.