NextFab Blog

"The Helm"

Posted by admin

Jan 6, 2012 6:19:41 PM

I took on a challenge to create a pirate ship steering wheel. I wanted to give land lovers the powerful feeling of a captain steering their ship. Though this project is ongoing and ever changing, “The Helm” has been installed twice, each time adding additional pieces to further push the illusion of steering a ship on land.

The next step for “The Helm” will be to create bone structures (carved out of foam) to fill in the rectangular wooden ligatures. “The Helm” also has slots to insert lights to encourage people walking by to play with it.

I designed the wheel in Rhino and then brought the design to the ShopBot CNC Router. The base of the wheel was layered with different patterns to allow knobs to be lamented in. The knobs were also created by laminating wood together and milling them out on the ShopBot. The base of “The Helm” was designed to look as if it were the deck of a pirate ship. I made sure that the base had enough structural integrity to allow people to stand on it and also hold the wheel’s weight. The wheel is attached to the vertical bracing of the deck with two block pillows. A 1” steel rod, held on by shaft collars extends through “The Helm” and both block pillows.


Topics: project, Uncategorized, shopbot, nextfab


Posted by admin

Nov 30, 2011 6:29:00 PM

Check out this great project. Follow their updates on twitter, facebook and tumblr!

The Space Savers Project is a citywide public arts project, inspired by the Philadelphia custom of “saving” on-street parking. Saving public parking spaces, while technically illegal, is widely practiced throughout the city. Items like recycling bins, upturned garbage cans, cinder blocks and broken furniture are traditionally used as space savers. While the objects effectively “save” spaces, they can be visually crude and imply threat/ possession. We called on artists to design and create alternatives to the objects traditionally used to save spaces. This is public art project as well as an environmental and social experiment. We wanted to re-imagine what space saving in the city can look like. We wondered: Can a change in the aesthetics change the message of space saving? Or is the act of space saving immutable? Perhaps by replacing traditional space savers with art, we can transform the practice of saving spaces and begin new community dialogues.

Is saving a parking space with a work of art different than saving one with a cinder block tethered to a street sign? The Space Savers Project may reveal an answer.

The creative goals for The Space Savers Project are:

·      To re-imagine a Philadelphia custom;

·      To transform environments and social customs;

·      To engage viewers outside of traditional gallery spaces.


The Space Savers Project is supported by Breadboard and Temple Gallery. The Project responds to the Vision Plan of the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, which encourages more temporary public art programming in Philadelphia including projects that utilize temporary public art to illuminate or address critical civic issues and promote civic engagement and dialogue.

Topics: public-art, project, philadelphia, Uncategorized, great, breadboard, nextfab, breadboard-philly

Digital Embroidery Workshop with Artist Shelley Spector

Posted by admin

Oct 11, 2011 4:54:00 PM

Since May of this year, Philadelphia sculptor, Shelley Spector has been Breadboard’s Artist in Residence at NextFab Studio. Using fabric cut from secondhand clothing and wood cast off from NextFab’s commercial projects, she has developed a colorful new body of work of digitally embroidered images in laser cut frames.

These new works, which will be featured in an upcoming solo exhibition at the Esther Klein Gallery beginning February 2012, are the inspiration for a public workshop, which will take place on Saturday, October 29th from 1-4PM at NextFab Studio, 3711 Market Street, Philadelphia.

Workshop participants will get to work side by side with Spector to create a piece using the digital sewing machine, (affectionately named Gwen) and the laser cutter (also known as Speedy). Each participant will get a take away piece of art designed by Spector that they will fabricate under the supervision of the artist and NextFab’s tech experts.

This free workshop includes a preview of Spector’s newest work and a tour of NextFab’s state of the art facilities. It is open to all on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is necessary - space is limited.

Spector is an artist, curator, editor and teacher. She has been working for more than 20 years, creating works of various media that most recently explore themes of money, relationships, tools of measurement and the environment. Her work has been exhibited at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art, Gallery Joe, Fleisher Art Memorial Challenge Exhibition and The Print Center in Philadelphia, PA, and Delaware Center For Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, DE. She is represented by the Bridgette Mayer Gallery, where she has an upcoming show in January 2013.

Topics: workshop, project, sewing, philadelphia, laser, Uncategorized, breadboard, nextfab, art, laser-cutter, embroidery, fabrication, tech

NextFlag! (E-textiles teaser)

Posted by admin

Oct 7, 2011 12:02:00 PM

Since I’ve been working on expanding our textile capabilities, I decided to jump into a small project, incorporating a variety of techniques.

This mini “NextFlag” was embroidered and sewn using our Brother Innov-is 2800D sewing and digital embroidery machine. 

I knew I wanted to include a soft circuit, so I started playing with conductive thread, LEDs, and soft switches. 

This soft switch acts as a button in the soft circuit. How it works: I used a small piece of conductive fabric, with conductive thread on each end of a piece of foam with a hole cut out of the center. When you press on the switch, the conductive fabric and thread touch, closing the circuit, and turning the LED on. 

To finish the project, I made a little stand out of some scrap oak and a dowel. This was a lot of fun! We are currently developing an e-textiles workshop using some of these elements and more advanced projects!

Topics: project, e-textiles, digital-embroidery, philadelphia, circuit, Uncategorized, nextfab, textiles, led


Posted by admin

Oct 5, 2011 4:16:00 PM


The cool stuff just keeps coming from our long time member, the laser guru, Sharif Pendleton.  Just in time for starting the holiday shopping—ahead of schedule and with style. Check out his blog to read more about it!

Topics: project, laser, trotecspeedy500, holiday, Uncategorized, member, coasters, nextfab, etching

Safety Glasses Holder 5000

Posted by admin

Sep 29, 2011 7:08:00 PM

Sounds of plastic clattering on the floor got you down?

Tired of losing eyes day in and day out for lack of proper eye wear?

Unable to balance the stresses of a hectic work day AND balancing safety glasses on a poorly designed rack?

Then NextFab has a solution for you.

We would like to introduce to you…the Safety Glasses Holder 5000! (pictured below)


NOW in BLUE!!!

Disclaimer: Safety glasses holder should not be used to protect eyes from flying bits or saucers. Do not wear holder on top of head. Holder may be used as a floatation device in case of a water landing. Offer not valid where prohibited. Terms and conditions may apply.

This piece is the first of what we can assume to be many well designed and crafted projects from one of our newest employees, Carter Banks. Carter will be posting shortly to introduce himself and tell a little bit about the experience of making everyone’s lives here just a little better. Stay tuned for more improvements and witty remarks as more fun and interesting changes take place around the studio.

Topics: project, laser, acrylic, Uncategorized, trotec, nextfab, fabrication, safety

Our new interactive window display project

Posted by admin

Sep 13, 2011 4:42:00 PM

I am excited to announce a new interactive window display at NextFab Studio!

A camera will face the sidewalk outside and detect human faces. A program will display random shapes differing in color and size, according to the peoples facial positions.  (Don’t worry, we are not recording your face.)

The main idea for it is to let passersby have a chance to join a temporary public art project with us and explore more about NextFab Studio.

I have been working on this for the past few weeks. I researched many possibilities, then decided to use openFramework, not only because it has a lot of features for user interface design, but also runs on both Mac and Windows. It is also easier for people who don’t have a programming background to understand. Moreover, you can find a lot of examples on their forum website. The forum has been very helpful for me!

As you can see, Version 1 (directly above) had just black in the background, then I tried to keep the tester’s face on the screen for some debugging reasons. The outcome was more intuitive and intriguing. Version 2 (at the top of this post) included the faces that were detected, and for the current version, well…you will have to come and see!  ;)

A next step for this project is perhaps making the shapes follow or drift away according to the positions of the passersby’s faces.

Since it is an ongoing project, we will be happy to receive some feedback and ideas. Please feel free to comment!

Topics: project, visualisation, interactive, window, Uncategorized, open-framework, programming, nextfab

Inspired by Member's Tritium Keychain Project

Posted by admin

Aug 14, 2011 12:30:00 PM

I’ve been following the project of one of our members who’s made a brass keychain fob with a tritium vail inside so it can be found in the dark.   He’s finished his Mark 2 version and here are some pictures.

I have been inspired to make a few for myself.   I think it will be a good first project for me to learn more about the Lathe and Mill we have.   I differences I envision are just artistic, the basic design is just fine.   I will keep track of the process and post my progress.

Topics: project, mill, brass, Uncategorized, keychain-fob, machining, member, tritium, fabrication

Laser-engraved bottle

Posted by admin

Jul 16, 2011 12:01:00 PM


Our Member, Robert Baruch, used the Trotec Speedy 500 to engrave the bottle of… well Absinthe. Read more about the process combined with little bits of history on his very cool blog.

Topics: project, trotecspeedy500, Uncategorized, engraving


About this blog

Welcome to the NextFab Blog, where we discuss the ideas changing the world as we know it. Step inside the revolutionary world of 3D Printing technology, traditional and Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) machinery, innovation and imagination.



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