RapidTech started life as the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education National Center for Rapid Technologies. It moved from its original location to the Engineering Tower of UCI at the beginning of summer 2010. Over the years, RapidTech has focused on hands on education and training for students, the community, and industry alike. RapidTech is funded by the Samueli School of Engineering as part of the Institute for Design and Manufacturing Innovation with additional support coming in the form of grants and contracts for ancillary projects, workshops, and events.
RapidTech is available to the community on weekdays during normal business hours. Walk-ins are welcome however appointments are encouraged and receive priority.
The RapidTech facility includes but is not limited to the following
1 SLM 125HL Powderbed Fusion machine (stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, etc.)
1 Fortus 450MC FDM machine (various polymers inc ABS, PC, Nylon, ULTEM, etc)
1 Objet 260 Connex3 Polyjet material jetting (1000s of materials inc. clear, opaque, flexible)
1 Objet Desktop 30 Polyjet material jetting machine (rigid opaque plastics)
1 Stratasys Dimension SST 1200es FDM Machine running (ABS+)
1 ATOS Core 200 structured light scanner
1 NextEngine HD Laser Scanner
1 ZCorp ZScanner 700
1 Konika Minolta Vivid 910 Laser Scanner
1 Photobooth with Canon 5d mkII
9 Flashforge Creator FDM Machines (ABS, PLA, etc)
1 SeeMeCNC Rostock Delta style FDM Machine (ABS, PLA, etc)
1 Laguna 10” Tilting Table Saw
1 Laguna HD Band Saw
1 Laguna Variable Speed Drill Press
1 Ryobi Belt/Disc Sander
1 Ryobi Drill Press
1 Ryobi Band Saw
1 Rigid Chop Saw
1 BJB 15gal Vacuum Chamber
1 Binks 15gal Pressure Pot
1 Zeiss Vista CMM
1 ZCorp 510 Full Color 3D Printer
1 ZCorp 310 3D Printer (special powders inc. alumina)
2 3D Systems SLA 250/50s SLA machines (DSM Somos 11122 and 9120)
1 Sony SCS 8000 (DSM Somos 11122)
1 3D Systems ThermoJet MJM material jetting machine (TJ88 wax)
1 EnvisionTEC Perfactory DLP based SLA (R5 Gray plastic)
1 Formlabs Form1+ (various plastics)
1 B9 Creator DLP based SLA (Cherry Red plastic)
1 Universal Laser VLS 6.60 Laser Cutter and Engraver
1 TROTEC Speedy 360 Laser Cutter and Engraver
1 ShopSabre 4860 CNC router
1 Grizzly 48” Pan & Box/Finger Brake
1 Vacuum Investment Table
1 Burnout Oven
1 Powdercoating Oven
1 Spin Casting station
2 Sand Casting Stations
1 Hydrographics Station
1 Composite rack
2 Composite layup stations
2 DTM Sinterstation 2000 SLS machines (Nylon 11, PS)
1 Powder mixing station
A litany of SmoothOn and BJB silicones and urethanes for casting
There is no charge to enter the facility but all projects must recover time and material costs.
As part of the Institute for Design and Manufacturing Innovation (IDMI) RapidTech falls under Lorenzo Valdevit. Benjamin Dolan acts as full time Director of the facility and runs the day to day operations. There are two part time rotating graduate student positions as well as undergraduate interns to assist guests and clients. Administration duties are aided by a full time administrative manager under the IDMI and staff of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.
Outside of classes scheduled through the Engineering Department, training is available to students on an appointment basis and drop in basis if time allows. Training sessions can be scheduled as needed for the community and industry. RapidTech also participates in many community outreach events including those at Maker Faires, public libraries, local schools and for various community groups. Lastly, RapidTech presents and trains at numerous educational events for the NSF, NIST and others as well as industry events like the Additive Manufacturing User Group and Society of Manufacturing Engineers Rapid conferences.
RapidTech is available to the community on weekdays during normal business hours. Walk-ins are welcome however appointments are encouraged and receive priority. If a person, group or team has gone through training and has demonstrated they can be trusted to safely operate a piece of available equipment they are welcome to do so after checking in with a RapidTech staff member. If assistance is needed and staff is available they will work with the client to get the project going in the right direction. Parts of the lab are occasionally closed temporarily for weekly classes, special presentations, other training sessions and so forth but are open to use with supervision otherwise. It is possible under certain circumstances to book the entire facility and staff for custom muti-day hands on training workshops.
The staff at RapidTech has been part of an active maker scene for more than a decade and has experience working with a broad set of tools on an equally broad range of topics. On top of this, staff members are experienced educators, having worked in the “K through gray” education community since the beginning. As part of the maker community, RapidTech does quite a bit of outreach to the community, holding tours, attending events, participating in advisory boards, etc. and works with local partners and groups to provide resources to the maker community as a whole.
Funding, paperwork, and rules are always going to be the toughest challenges of running a maker space and they can only be dealt with, not overcome. Liability is a huge concern when working with equipment that can harm someone if used incorrectly, and access to this and the general space must be dealt with. Working with HR and Risk Management to find acceptable levels of staff/oversight/access is critical.
First and foremost, you’ve got to love what you’re getting into, because it takes a lot of time and patience to get it all working. Second, find a champion so it’s not just one voice people hear. Third, find lots of money. If you want a big center, you need a big space, and big equipment. But beware, being big means you’ll have big recurring costs, and much of the maker community isn’t willing to spend much to support those things.