Twentynine Palms -- Maj. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue, Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, viewed the innovative capabilities of the Combat Center’s Fabrication Laboratory during a visit to the base, March 29, 2017.
The newly-established FabLab is the first of its kind in the Marine Corps and will provide Marines and sailors the opportunity to develop avant-garde solutions to common problems through utilizing 3D printing technology.
“I would say the work put in to establishing the FabLab is already paying off and we haven’t even officially opened our doors yet,” said Capt. Zachary Weisenfels, officer-in-charge, FabLab. “It’s pretty cool to have people come in here who have never done any sort of design, who have never played with electronics to go from week one, not even knowing what a laser cutter is, to by the end of the third week, making machines that draw pictures, or making airplanes.”
During his visit, O’Donohue was briefed on the various capabilities of the FabLab to include 3D printing machines, a laser cutter and a ShopBot CNC router. He was also introduced to Cpl. Robert Murray, tank commander, Bravo Co., 1st Tank Battalion, who invented a functional fire circuit tester.
“The fire circuit tester we currently have is an incandescent light bulb and it tests how many volts go through to the firing pin,” Murray said. “I wanted to create something that was more accurate in telling the tankers how many volts were actually going to their firing pin so I decided to incorporate a digital meter that reads how many volts are actually getting to the firing pin. I see the value in it because it does the exact same test for a sixth of the price of our current fire circuit tester.”
Once the doors officially open, the laboratory will be open to everyone who is affiliated with the Department of Defense on a first-come, first-served basis.
“I think having a central location where people can come and learn is going to be really helpful. For the Marine Corps as a whole, I think the biggest thing we’re doing is opening eyes. Marines are smart and any problem you put in front of a Marine they are going to solve it,” Weisenfels said. “The fact that this place exists is a big win for the Marine Corps. In the long run, it’s going to save time, money and produce innovative solutions. I just hope that after seeing this FabLab up and running that it expands to installations throughout the Corps.”