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Combat Center's new FABLAB provides tools for innovation

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Story by Cpl Levi Schultz on 02/23/2017
In anticipation of its official opening scheduled for April, the Combat Center's Fabrication Laboratory held an open house at building 1431, Feb. 21, 2017. The FABLAB event showcased the different equipment and capabilities the lab will provide Marines and units aboard the installation.
With more than five 3-D printers, a laser cutter, electrical soldering tools and a selection of wood shop equipment, the shop offers the tools Marines need to create anything from Humvee handles to drones.
"One of the biggest goals here is to [prevent gaps in training]," said Capt. Zachary Weisenfels, officer in charge, FABLAB. "While the unit has a part on order, Marines can make something that will allow a piece of equipment to work while they wait for the actual part to come in. It's not going to last as long as the original, but it will allow them to continue training."
The lab also provides a means for Marines to implement innovative ideas to improve their units and the Marine Corps as a whole.
"We want Marines in here and exploring," Weisenfels said. "By giving Marines access to this equipment, they are going to be ones who innovate. They may come up with ways to save money or invent an entirely new system."
FABLAB is already making changes aboard the Combat Center. According to Weisenfels, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit and Tactical Training Exercise Control Group have begun using the lab to create training aides and drones. Once the lab officially opens in April, it will be available for Marines to work on both individual and unit projects.
"We are still working out kinks here and there," Weisenfels said. "There are no requirements at this time. If you want to come in and learn [computer-aided design], that's what we are here for. Eventually, once word gets out it will be in order of precedence. We are ultimately providing the tools necessary for the Marines to explore and through exploration we will innovate."

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