FabField Reflection

When we began the project I was very excited about the fact that I will have the opportunity to work on a Fab Lab styled project yet again. Last year I have designed a lamp in a pair for our final first year project. Because the lamp turned out to be a success to an extent as there has been room for improvement. For my Fab Field project I have decided to develop the old project further and try to improve upon it. In order to improve the old design I had to analyse where we went wrong with the project previously, I had to eliminate the issues which I have detected I also had to learn some new skills in order to make this lamp better than the previous one.

The weekly lectures and workshops have been a great opportunity to learn the skills necessary in order to improve my design as well as help me understand the Fab Lab culture and the ideology behind it.

Firstly I would like to talk about the positives, things I have learnt and things that went well.

I have learnt about press fittings using a laser cutter and applied that knowledge when it came to producing my lamp, I have produced press fitted parts which have been an addition in comparison to the old mould. Those parts have turned out to be one of the most significant improvements of my new lamp and they will boost the aesthetics hugely. All of this happened because of the skills which I have gained from this project.

Further, I gained extra knowledge in electronics and the use of Fritzing software. We have been taught how to produce PCB boards using a milling machine. I’m very glad that this project allowed me to learn those skills because they will become very useful in my Product Design BSc part of the course where this knowledge will be vital.

This project also pushed me in to further experiments with different CAD software packages as well as further practice my rendering skills. I have learnt how to place 3D models into real life perspective using rendering software. This can be seen in ‘The Fifth Post’ where the lamp render is placed on a desk in the environment in which it would normally be displayed and utilised in.

I have gained more knowledge about sharing the files and the idea of helping each other to achieve our goals. I can now see better that it is far more beneficial to work in a group of people from mixed backgrounds with a different set of skills because everyone can input the best of their skills to achieve things we could not achieve alone.

I also experienced the negative parts of the project and things which have not gone well and to plan.

For example, one of my goals for this project was to work on my time management skills which I have failed to do because I have wasted time creating a mould for a lamp which was too big and simply ugly and not very practical. However, this will teach me to manage my time better next time and I will now know to be 100 percent sure about the design before jumping ahead and start producing it. Further I have learnt new skills because I made the bigger mould using thicker and more rigid plywood. All parts have been but out on a table saw including 45 degree cuts at the edges of the parts. I learnt how to use 45 degree mitre joints and laser cut acrylic lining for the mould where the sides have then been sanded to 45 degree edges using belt sander. I learnt how to combine classic methods with modern ones.

Another thing which didn’t go well were hole sizes for the PCB the first time round. However, one of the group members has managed to work it out and provided us with the instructions on how to do it. I think that this shows exactly how good sharing is.

One more negative thing that I can think of for this project was the fact that we have moved between topics very quickly and didn’t get to cover them in very much depth. However, on the bright side this encouraged me to explore the areas which have interested me independently.

(To be continued when the production of the lamp is completed)


The Instructions

In order to make the concrete lamp this is the list of materials which I have required.

Cement (I used Snowcrete- Any cement will be good but I preferred the white cement)

5mm Laser suitable plywood.x2 sheets

3mm clear acrylic half a laser sheet. (300 x 200)

5mm clear acrylic laser sheet. (600 x 400)

mitre mate wood glue (Again other types of glue could be used with the use of 90 degree clamps such as two part epoxy glue)

small screws and wood planks in order to strengthen the mould to prevent it from coming apart under the pressure of the cement.

Pre-made lamp cord for health and safety.

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I have begun by making the mould. I produced the drawings bellow for the outer and the inner parts of the mould in order to laser cut the pieces for best possible accuracy, I have then butt jointed the mould together using the adhesive. when sticking the parts together using this instant glue you have to move quick because the glue sets in around 5 seconds so placing the parts must be as accurate as possible. I would recommend gluing them together against a 90 degree corner.

(LASER CUT FILES-Outer, Inner, acrylic to be continued…)

Glue the bottom acrylic piece (104 x 154) in order to give the shape for the acrylic piece which will come on top of the lamp. You must ensure that the acrylic piece to which the base is glued on to is 23mm away from the edge of the bottom.  The sides on the inner mould have to be then placed in the centre, 25mm away from the edge of the bottom and glued on top of the acrylic piece, the acrylic shall be visible 2mm all the way around the inner walls.


When the inner and outer mould are glued check that all sides are flat! If not, sand all the sides on a belt sander until flat.

Cut planks of wood which will fit inside your inner mould and screw them in from the outside, this will help the mould to be held together.


Once the inner mould is strengthened glue the outside walls on to the rest of the mould using your adhesive. once all 4 sides are glued together cut wood planks to fit around your mould and screw them around your mould at the bottom and near the top. Notice that only 2, opposite sides have to be cut perfect as the other ones overlap.

when the outer and inner parts of the mould are assembled together fix the press fitted parts at the top on one side of the mould, this does not matter which side. I used the same adhesive to fix the parts to the mould. no glue is necessary for the press fitted parts. some sanding may be required to the 3 squares on each of the beams before pushing the parts together.

When mixing your cement try to use a mesh to avoid big lumps of cement from falling into your mix. This will produce a nice, even consistency and hopefully less air bubbles as well as make things easier if you are going to be mixing the cement by hand. The cement must be slightly more runny than custard in regards to the consistency. when pouring in the cement its important to shake and tap the mould to even out the cement and reduce the air bubbles. if you have an access to a vibrating table to shake out all the air from the mould contents that will ensure a better quality of the finished product.

in regards to the acrylic for the top panel and the base you can either use fine wet and dry sand paper to give the Perspex a frosted effect or you can buy already frosted Perspex which is slightly more expensive but looks better.

The next step is to cut out the acrylic parts for the base and fabricate 45 degree edges and glue them together using solvent cement.

(Files to be continued…)

(Pictures to be continued…)

The final step is to drill out the hole for the cable using a diamond drill bit (10mm ideal) as any other ones will cause the cement body to crack. Then you need to feed the cable through the main body but firstly you must remove the components from the cable to fit the cable through the hole. then assemble the cord back together and fasten the bulb holder to the body using the fixing provided.

delays on some of the steps have been mainly caused due to the cement setting time.

Sixth Post – Press Fit

In Week 6 we have covered the applications and uses of laser cutters. As a Product Designer I have used laser cutter on many occasions in many different projects for different purposes according to the design needs.

Due to the fact that I am developing my old project I decided to focus on the things that went wrong which I would like to improve based on the prototype made last year. One of the main issues was attaching the main concrete body to the Perspex base.

This year I have decided to create slots in the bottom of the concrete base and in order to achieve that I have laser cut those parts as shown in the photograph bellow.


The 2 parts press fit together and then rest on top of the mould where the concrete will take that shape.

I have made a minor mistake and didn’t include the thickness of the mould to the beam which would create the slot. However this was easy to overcome because crafts knife easily cut through the 5mm which were necessary.  I have then glued the parts on top of the mould using mitre mate instant glue.

Here are some pictures of the press fitted parts in use on the mould as well as the concrete setting in the mould.

Fifth Post – CAD


During week 5 we have begun to look at the use of CAD software and different packages offered to us such as rhino, PTC Creo, AutoCAD etc. we had to explore the software’s and find one which suits us best, the one we feel the most comfortable with.


Because I’m a product design student I use SolidWorks regularly therefore I have decided to use this software to create my final model and render it using KeyShot which is a great rendering software.


I began my 3D model by creating the main body followed by the top glass piece and then the stand.


I have then assembled those separate parts together to achieve my full model.


Here are the main developments which I have achieved.

Previously there was no cable hole and because the concrete was tough there was a chipped out bit at the back of the old lamp for the cable to be fed through. This time I will be using a diamond drill bit to drill out a hole in the centre of the lamp, quarter way up from the bottom at the back in order for the cable to be securely placed in the lamp. This will boost the aesthetics dramatically as the main body will still remain a sleek look. And boos the practicality and safety as the lamp wont have a chance to stand on the wire and cut it for example.


The second most important development also happened in not a very noticeable place when you have a first look at the lamp. I have decided to add slots in to which the base/stand will slide into so the hypothesis is that there will be no need to use of glue in order to connect the base to the body.


Here bellow is the old lamp, where you can see how unprofessional and rough the lamp looks when the base and the body are glued on, hence this development which I think will help the design significantly in order to boost the overall appearance.  


Here are some of my renders, I tried to play around and explore using back drops and making more realistic renders.

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Third Post- PCB board

In our third week we have further experimented with fritzing and the possibilities which it gives us, as the users. Our aim for this week was to create a circuit board using a milling machine (PCB).

We started by creating a circuit using fritzing. And then using the PCB tab to create the files necessary for milling (etchable SVG).


Once the file has been exported in different layers which are necessary for the process to work I have then tweaked the design using illustrator.


Final designs then needs to be transferred into online software provided by Fab Lab (THE WEBSITE) where the tool position, depth of the cut and the track which the tool will follow get established.

During the process of making our First PCB board as a class we have encountered a serious problem. Because the machine was milling rather than drilling, it  caused the component holes to be bigger than desired in order for them to fit in tightly. We have then experimented and tried to reduce the holes by making the circles on  the drawing as small as possible which provided better results each time as can be seen from those photographs:


However, the holes have still turned out to be too big. We have learnt the necessary skills but unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to produce a perfect PCB because we did not have the tool necessary for the machine.



Second Post-Arduino Basics

In the Second week of the field project we began by looking at basic electronics. Simple circuits such as this one where the LED is lit:


We have also begun to look at the use of Arduino boards and programing. Using software such as Fritzing where libraries of components are available for the user in order to create all kinds of different circuits from easy and simple ones like the one above to more complicated ones which use many more components. This Knowledge will come in handy when I begin to look at how to create my circuit for the lamp which I am going to produce.


In our second week of Field we have also been taught how to solder components together, for example, wires, LED’s, battery packs etc.

The assignment task given to us by Alexandros asked the group to create 3D representations of letters and symbols which will spell out ‘FAB FIELD!’ not only that, they also had to light up!

I have been given the exclamation mark symbol to create. I have begun to create my files in illustrator. And then laser cut all the components.



Once I have laser cut all the components I have sanded the sides of the top part of the exclamation mark to 45 degrees in order to mitre joint them and glue the parts using solvent cement due its great properties of bonding plastics thanks to the capillary action. The glued parts are shown bellow. The final photograph also shows the symbol with and Arduino and a blinking LED in the base.



First Post- The Proposal

My name is Patryk Glowacki and I have been previously involved in a project which had to follow the Fab Lab ideology.

In pairs we had to design a desk lamp for which all the files will be available with a set of instructions and somebody else in the world who can access a Fab Lab could just download the files and produce their own.

This lamp design idea is quite unusual and bespoke because the main material used is concrete, which doesn’t really seem like a good material to use at the first glance.



The project turned out to be a success after many stressful days and many attempts to produce the final product.



I have now began by BSc course in the second year and would like to challenge my self further by trying to redevelop this lamp or create a new smart model which will follow the design principles of this lamp. However, In the new design, I will attempt to use an Arduino to add extra features in to the lamp such as light or move detectors, light control such as dim/ bright, colour changing and perhaps a thermometer which will show the temperature of the room.