Fab Academy Adventures: 7 Press Fit Construction Kits

CNC & Machining Craft & Design
Fab Academy Adventures: 7 Press Fit Construction Kits


The Fab Academy program is a distributed educational model providing advanced digital fabrication instruction for students through an unique, hands-on curriculum and access to technological tools and resources.

In this series, Erin, aka RobotGrrl is going to be sharing her experiences with the program as she progresses through the courses.






How does Fab Academy work?

Each Fab Lab that participates in the Fab Academy program is part of a global Fab Lab / Fab Academy network. This year there are 53 labs participating from all around the globe.

Students plan and execute a new project each week based on the week’s topic, with a final project due at the end of the course. You can see a schedule of the class here– with topics ranging from composites to electronics design. Global lectures are broadcast every Wednesdays at 9:00 am – 12:00 pm EST.


First up our adventure dove in to computer controlled cutting. The task was to create a press fit construction kit, where you fit pieces of laser cut cardboard together to create an interesting sculpture. Here are some of the projects!


Simple shapes into bird machines, by Loes Bogers at Fab Lab Amsterdam

“While I was constructing I noticed two things: the detailed decorations weakens the cardboard and it’s easy to break pieces. You have to work very patiently and try not to add too much pressure. Lasering it from plywood would be better for this. […] My bird machines are sitting in the fablab right now and apparently they’re catching quite some attention. So I decided to act on some encouragement and further develop the bird kit.”

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Envelope for lights, by Daniel Asprilla at Fab Lab Unal Medellín

“Following the visualized in class, the idea for the exercise “efl – envelope for lights” stems from the opportunity to create an item that continuing with the idea of final project, let me play with the way that light is displayed in space, this initially projected in the rhinoceros software and plug-in grasshopper by way of an envelope shape.”

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Upholstering laser cut boxes, by Virginia McCreary at Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

“My final step was to add fabric to it. I edited the “bottom” of a box so that it became a box-less top that sits snuggly on the topmost box… and then I learned to upholster! Which was both exciting and much easier than I expected it to be. The fabric prevented me from attaching both long and short “bottom” rails, but it seems to hold just fine with just one set.”

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Piece featuring flexures, by Patricio Ortiz at Fab Lab Monterrey

“The model includes two types of joints; push tabs, snap / flexible clips and alternated slot patterns for the round edges. The flexible clips around the pentagonal pieces are not normal to the five modules those parts intersect. Ao I have to adjust the slots so they can fit at that angle. The five modules also need a mechanical lock between them.”

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Spring into action fold-press-fit, by Yumi Nishihara at Fab Lab Kamakura

“I made the flat cardboard joints in the shape of a circle, triangle, rectangle and a ring with several arms at different angles. The spring joints and flat joints are connected by pressing the paper through the ring (rather forcefully). I made the ring small enough so that the flat joint wouldn’t be too loose when attached to the spring joint, but also big enough so that the spring joint can be pressed through. After attaching one flat joint to the spring joint, I noticed that the flat joint was pretty loose so I added another ring of cardboard to make it fit more properly.”

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Robot model in press fit together cardboard, by Marco Sanalitro at Fab Lab Frosinone

“The press fit system needs particular attention in the joints. My project have joints which allow the rotation; I did a first printing test to prove the correctness”

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YouTube player

Sounding robot, by Wilhelm Schütze at Fab Lab UNI

“”A Sounding Toy” this time i decided to try some basic electronics for accomplishing the sound, I turned out whith the idea of making an easy to build square wave oscillator (Atari Punk Console) and putting it into an robot/alien enclousure with moving parts to control the  frequency and the pulse. i started to medel the new idea this time directly on rhinoceros, taking in consideration all the parts i needed: speaker, battery, PCB, potentiometers, LEDs, Wiring, etc., I used the potentiometer’s pivot for the arms, no screws or glue were used, this was the final result.”

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More Projects

These were just a few of the really cool projects that everyone made. You can follow what the students are making here. Go to a few random pages and see what people are up to! Perhaps it will inspire you for a new project too.

Stay tuned to the MAKE blog for the next installment in this series, about electronics & 3D scanning, printing!


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