Frequently Asked Questions

What is a FabLab?


Fabrication Laboratories, or FabLabs, are part of a global initiative that emerged from MIT’s Center for Bits & Atoms FabLab Program. They are creative hubs that provide learners with access to technologies, equipment, training, and inspirational spaces in support of invention and entrepreneurship. In short, it is a place meant to invent, tinker, prototype, learn, mentor, create, and play! To qualify as a FabLab, the space must include a 3D printer, a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter, a precision CNC milling machine, and a large wood router.




Who is the FabLab for?


Anyone who is interested in learning the latest technologies to turn ideas into reality can use the FabLab to integrate their ideas and work with other learners in the space to come up with new ideas. We strive to accommodate as many modes of creation as possible and constantly search for new ways to help students learn and innovate. We are a teaching and learning space, so while we are more than happy to walk you through your ideas and show you how to use the software and equipment you will need, we cannot make items for you.




How do I access the FabLab?


The FabLab is located in the basement of the Boundary County Library. To enter the lab, you must first check in at the front desk located on the main floor of the library, and a technician will accompany you.




How do I use the equipment?


FabLab staff are familiar with all the equipment in the lab. Though we have basic knowledge of the equipment, more advanced jobs may require the help of a technician or specialist. Sometimes, we really push the bounds of our knowledge and try new and exciting projects. We are always willing to expand our mastery of the equipment along with you! Check out our video tutorials for more information on our equipment.




What software programs do you use in the lab? Do I need to be familiar with them?


While we can assist new users in applying different programs for use with FabLab equipment, familiarity with a 3D design program and a vector design program would certainly be beneficial for students to have. Though we do our best to help learners export their files for printing out of their software of choice, there are too many software options for us to have expertise in all of them. Many participants use TinkerCAD, SolidWorks and Fusion 360 for 3D files. For 2D vector files, it is common to use Adobe Illustrator, AutoCAD, or Solidworks. For a full list of software used in the lab see our FabLab Tools section.




What type of file do I need to bring in to 3D print?


In order to 3D print, you need to bring in an .STL file




What are the dimensions of the 3D printer build area?


Ultimaker 3 - Max build size: 8.5" x 8.5" x 7.9" Afinia H480 - Max build size: 5.5" x 5.5" x 5.3"




What types of 3D printing material do you have?


We have ABS and PLA filament in a variety of colors.




What type of file do I need to bring to laser cut?


For laser cutting you can bring a vector file like .AI or .SVG. If you want to etch or engrave with the laser cutter, you can use .PNG, .JPG or a .BMP.




What is a vector file?


A vector file is an image file, unlike most digital images, that is not pixel based. As such, it is infinitely scalable. This means you can enlarge or shrink the image without losing resolution/image quality.




What are the dimensions of the laser cut area?


Epilog Mini 24 - Max cut area: 24" x 12"




How do I start taking classes?


There are several ways you can sign up for FabLab classes. You can book a class directly from our website's lab schedule. You may also call the library at (208) 267-3750 or come in and sign up at the front desk. We currently offer classes on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. If this is your first class, you may complete the registration paperwork online via our website or by picking up a printed form at the library. Prior to your scheduled class, be sure to watch the machine tutorials and safety video, and take the short safety quiz.




How much does it cost?


The classes and machine use are, in fact, free to all library patrons. However, donations are always welcome and appreciated. You may bring your own materials, but if you use ours, we do ask for an at-cost suggested donation.

  • ABS filament for the 3D printers is $.03-$.05 per gram
  • Specialty filament (flexible or infused filament is $.05-$.11 per gram
  • Vinyl is $.45 per sq. ft.,
  • Acrylic sheets are $5/sq. foot.
  • We have donated wood in various sizes as well for your use.




​I found something on the Internet that I want to make. Can I have you make it for me?


The short answer is no. The long answer is:
​Our lab is for people to learn to create stuff. As a FabLab in a library, we LOVE to teach people new skills. We teach a man to fish as the old saying goes. Accomplishing a seemingly daunting task improves self-esteem and gives a sense of self-worth. Plus, everything is a learning process.
Similarly, we can't have for profit use in our lab. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to prototype here, but large scale production is prohibited.




Do I need to stay with my kids in the FabLab?


Yes. You must be at least 16 years old to use the equipment in the lab without adult supervision.




Can I schedule time to use the Fab Lab equipment without taking classes?


All patrons must complete an orientation class regardless of prior experience. Once you have been certified by a Boundary County Library Lab Tech, you may schedule independent time in the FabLab.




When is the FabLab open?


The FabLab is open for classes on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. It is open to certified independent users on Tuesdays. See our Lab Schedule for available time slots.




How old do you have to be to use the FabLab?


There is no age limit for the Fab Lab. However, anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.




How many people can use the lab at one time?


Due to limited space in the lab, our library techs can only accommodate up to 3 participants at a time. Exceptions are up to the direction of the class leader.




Can I sell the products I make in the FabLab if I use my own materials?


Entrepreneurs are encouraged to prototype here, but large-scale production is prohibited.




Can I make custom signs for my business in the Fab Lab?


Yes, custom signs are allowed for business or personal use but cannot be sold for profit.




How long does it take to master?


Rome wasn’t built in a day. Similarly, CAD and CAM knowledge doesn’t happen in one class. Each class adds to your skill set. Remember, everyone learns at their own pace! Don’t get discouraged, you can do it! When you book a class with us, you can decide which machine/skill you would like to work on for the one hour class. As soon as you are certified on a machine, we can work out a time for you to come in "independently" to work on longer projects and to use the machines with minimal staff guidance. It typically takes at least a few classes on a particular machine to become proficient enough to go independent.




How can I come prepared for my class?


We have a lot to accomplish in one hour and it goes by fast. Therefore, if it is your first class, please make sure you:

  • Completed the registration packet,
  • Watched the tutorial for the machine you intend to use
  • Watched the saftey video
  • Completed the safety quiz.
It is also helpful to always come to your class with a project idea already in mind. You can explore www.thingiverse.com for 3D print projects, or visit our FabLab page and explore the different projects that others have already made.





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BOUNDARY COUNTY LIBRARY

6370 Kootenai Street,

Bonners Ferry, ID 83805