Vertifex are a local company specialising in using innovative cutting edge, computer aided design and digital fabrication technology, delivering visual solutions to realise concepts, tools and final products. Up against time to deliver high quality prints to manufacturers, Vertifex approached FabLab upon hearing about the Collaborate to Train (CTT) project, as a means of ensuring they met their deadline. Due to the scale and precision required for the job, a number of Fab Lab volunteers jumped at the chance to learn some new valuable skills whilst part of a CTT work placement. Combining 3D printing, sanding, finishing and painting, the volunteers alongside the trader established top quality models ready for display at Farnborough Air show for a major US Aerospace company.
Will, Vertifex’s founder and FabLab’s current resident entrepreneur, started with FabLab on a volunteer basis to help out citizens with their projects on the side of his own business, running workshops on 3D modelling and assisting with citizen’s models for fabrication. With aspirations of helping others with their creating processes, little did he think FabLab would be able to assist him with his creative processes. On hearing about the CTT project, Will approached the FabLab team to get some additional support to get his models finished successfully within a specified timescale to the highest possible standard.
Due to the immediate timescale constraints, FabLab recruited 3 willing volunteers: Marie, a volunteer skilled in graphic design and cosplay fabrication with a keen interest to learn and develop new skills to help further develop her own creative processes; Lewis, a 16 year old with a strong interest in digital technologies and the uses of technology in designing; and Cedric, from the engineering school ICAM in France, learning engineering functionalities within an English speaking environment for the duration of his 3 month placement.
Our 3 placement volunteers worked with Will along different steps of the production line. Whilst Will took the lead on ensuring the 3D models suited his client’s requirements, Cedric assisted the process, gaining valuable skills in 3D modelling working to a specific regimented design. Next steps were to 3D print the models to the correct scales, each volunteer learning how to appropriately slice models and set the support structures to the correct places to reduce the risk of print failure. Before finally all 3 placement volunteers alongside Will came together to complete the finishing and assembly process: sanding, masking, painting, and sealing.
Overall, the project lasted 3 weeks from start to finish, with 2 of these weeks being solely dedicated to the finishing of the final products; building a range of skills for all the volunteers, and additional support for the company to ensure they met their deadline and challenging everyone to ensure the models were finished to industry standard.
Whilst FabLab Coventry regularly undertake a range of 3D modelling workshops for local people, the technical skills required for the scale of this project went far beyond our usual teachings. The CTT programme enabled us to enhance the 3D skills of our volunteers and give them a stronger insight into product development.
This Collaborate to Train project proved highly successful on a number of grounds:
- The business obtained valuable support to help meet their tight production deadline.
- The placements have gained physical experience and increased their awareness of the full process behind 3D modelling for production.
- The project fell nicely into FabLab’s goals of supporting local communities to acquire skills.
Will made me discover a new kind of job that I loved: modelling. We only worked a few weeks on this subject, but it was amazing… Will received an order to model and print 8 aircrafts for a military exposition. He has to do the work in only few weeks. He has done the 3D modelling with his software alone in a week, but for the painting of the real models, he needed some help. I have spent three great months, between the FabLab and outside. The FabLab team is composed of very lovely people, helping me growing up with this exceptional social internship. It was not only about work, I learned to teach and helping people, with this team made an unforgettable memory.Cedric, CTT placement