Prototyping with StartGlocal
Equipped with our own professional 3D printer, CNC milling machine and plotter, StartGlocal supports your prototyping activities during our coachings, workshops, events and business competitions.
It all starts with your product idea. Our prototyping team guides you through the innovation process until you will have succesfully defined your minimum viable product.
A fabulous environment for prototyping
Although it is not well known (yet), our university runs three FabLabs at the two campus locations and offers various ways to create prototypes or minimum viable products. FabLabs are a global network of local labs, enabling invention by providing access to tools for digital fabrication. Everybody can learn the required skills to prototype physical products.
A FabLab (Fabrication Laboratory) is an open space equipped with a standard set of machines, equipment and materials, where people from all walks of life can come together with experts to share ideas, then design and make just about anything. The FabCommunity is an international network of more than 400 workshops that all share ideas and experience in digital fabrication.
Three FabLabs for our university
The FabLab Kamp-Lintfort offers over 600 m² of both space and machinery to turn ideas into reality. The goal of the FabLab is to make new technologies such as 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser cutters, and more available to our region.Read more
The Green FabLab Kamp-Lintfort integrates digital future technologies in the schools of the Lower Rhine region and contributes to the securing of young talents for small and medium-sized enterprises.Read more
FabLab Blue focusses on water, the Spoy Canal in Kleve and all that surrounds it. It is all about enabling the SpoyLand community to effect the changes that we need to develop the local economy while conserving and restoring the local ecosystem.Read more
Prerequisites for your prototyping activities
Starting point: your idea
Although the prototyping process varies based on the approach, machine and material, it all starts with your product idea. Independent of your idea or product you will go through different prototyping steps until you manufacture and test your MVP (minimum viable product) eventually. StartGlocal can support your prototyping activities as part of our business coaching or at our hosted events.
The term prototyping does not mean that you always build physical devices. It also includes “virtual” prototypes such as websites or software, for instance. The first step in your process is to select appropriate tools that are used to design and develop your prototype.
Commonly used machines for digital fabrication
In digital fabrication processes like (2D) laser cutting, milling and 3D printing, you control the machine by providing a file which includes a more technical representation of the design or geometry. Either the machine itself or a special software converter will process the input file and create the required commands for its motors and other manipulators like lasers or milling cutters.
Laser cutting, CNC milling
For a 2D laser cut, for instance, the usual way is to prepare an SVG file (scalable vector graphics) that includes information about the shapes you like to cut out of the material or engrave into the first millimetres of the surface (acrylic glass or wood for instance). In most cases, those 2D shapes are defined by curved or straight lines that can either be filled or outlined. More advanced and complex shapes are also possible. The laser or CNC mill is capable of removing/engraving the material defined by these two-dimensional paths.
For a 3D print, the process is different as you have to prepare a so-called STL file that contains the full three-dimensional geometry. A special software is used to slice the three-dimensional geometry into single, two-dimensional layers to compute start/end positions, velocities and coordinates for the three different motors of the 3D printer. An algorithm creates a precise timeline that controls when the printer head is at what location in the three-dimensional space and how fast it should be at that exact point in time. Furthermore, it defines when and which material should be deposited. The printer will operate based on the sliced, compiled version of your design eventually. It will do so layer by layer, starting at the very bottom all the way up to the top of the geometry.
Hardware and software for your prototyping
The following list gives an overview of hardware and software that you can use in our HSRW FabLab prototyping environments. Due to ever changing devices, tools, methods, hardware and software, this list will never be complete.
2D layout and design: Inkscape
3D CAD (computer aided design): Fusion 360, Solidworks, FreeCAD, OpenSCAD
(embedded) software development: Atom, Visual Studio Code, VSCodium, Xcode (macOS), Arduino IDE, PlatformIO, Git
Electronics development: Arduino, Tinkerforge
3D printers: Ultimaker, Cura (software), Ender
Impressions from our prototyping activities
Build your prototype
Let us know in case you have a product idea. We will guide you through the innovation process.