Topic outline

  • Welcome to Digital Fabrication I!

    This course covers 1/3 of the topics from Fab Academy.

    As said on the Fab Academy website: "The Fab Academy is a fast-paced, hands-on learning experience where students learn rapid prototyping by planning and executing a new project each week, resulting in a personal portfolio of technical accomplishments."

    Each week consists of the following.

    • Global lecture
    • Local lecture
    • Assignment

    Global lectures

    Global lectures use Eastern Standard Time (think New York time) and are happening on Wednesdays 9:00 EST which at the beginning of the course is 16:00 Helsinki time. Use tools such as the 24 Time Zones to double-check. You can find the Zoom link at the bottom of the page.

    Local lectures

    Thursdays 13:15 online or hybrid mode depending on the topic. Please find the Zoom link below. Hybrid mode means that you can join the lecture physically at the Aalto Fablab and via Zoom.


    Each topic has a basic set of skills that you will need to accomplish your assignment. Each week's page contains a list of resources you can use to learn the basics.

    Sometimes the videos and tutorials do not explain everything. This is why you are encouraged to spend time at the lab, experiment on your own and ask instructors for guidance.

    Human resources are precious. Whenever possible, try robots first. Search engines are your friends in this course. A course like this would not be possible without the internet. ChatGPT? Why not. Use it!


    Use the attendance sheet to mark your participation in the lectures. You can find the attendance sheet at the bottom of this page. You are required to participate in 80% of the lectures to be able to pass the course.

    Independent work

    Lectures are there to guide you, but you are responsible for allocating enough time to complete the assignments yourself. Starting from week 05 (Computer-Controlled Cutting), you are supposed to plan your work to be able to spend time at the Aalto Fablab. That means being there not only during the lectures but whenever possible to complete your assignments. Start early and add buffer time to accommodate failed attempts.

    The course is a full-time effort. It is recommended not to combine it with other courses. You will fail, and you will need time to recover. Keeping up with documentation takes time. It is in your best interest to make a good-looking portfolio of accomplishments as a result.

    Individual Tutoring

    Time is precious for everyone. In the case you need one-to-one guidance from the teacher, please schedule a meeting using the booking system (link below). Tuesdays are open days (please schedule anyway) and best suited for personal guidance at the Fablab. Other days are possible too, but depend on other things going on. Please schedule your session as in that way we can avoid a group of people hoping for a chance to get help at once and resulting in no one really getting it.

    Machine booking

    Machines are pre-booked for the course participants for the specific weeks covering them. For example, vinyl cutter and laser cutter are booked for course participants during week 5 (Computer-Controlled Cutting), and the machines are expected to be used on a first-come, first-served basis, except when we are doing introductions. Introductions will happen on Thursdays and Fridays. Check the assignment pages to find links to specific booking options.

    Outside the weeks covering a specific topic, you need to book the machines using the methods provided by Aalto Fablab. You can find the latest information about booking machines on the Aalto Fablab website.


    Every week you are supposed to do independent work and document it to complete an assignment. The first weeks of the course are the time when you learn the tools and the flow for documenting your assignments.

    You can find the assignments in each of the weekly topic sections. Since you will be using GitLab to document your work, you must submit a link to a page on your website covering a specific topic.


    Your work is going to be evaluated based on the documentation you produce. Invest time and energy during the first weeks of the course to master the flow of documenting on the go. Do not leave documentation to the very last minute of the course.

    Grading is based on the following criteria.

    1: The assignment has been submitted, and a page about the topic has been created.

    2: Basic concepts of the assignment week are described, but not all of the requirements are met.

    3: Minimum viable requirements of the assignment are met.

    4: Creativity in the execution of the assignment can be seen. The topic has been explored beyond basic concepts.

    5: The result is creative and technically impressive, and the documentation page itself can be used as a resource by someone else. 

    Refer to the official Fab Academy Assessment Guide to learn more about what is expected for each assignment. This is a documentation website you should be aiming for: Fab Academy by Nadieh Bremer.

    • url icon
      Zoom link for local lectures URL
      Not available unless any of:
      • You are a(n) Student
      • You are a(n) Teacher

      Passcode: DFAB2023

    • url icon
      Zoom link for global lectures URL
      Not available unless any of:
      • You are a(n) Student
      • You are a(n) Teacher

      Use password 1234

    • url icon
      Realtime communication URL
      Not available unless any of:
      • You are a(n) Student
      • You are a(n) Teacher

      Use this link to access the class real-time communication Telegram group. 

    • url icon
      File sharing URL
      Not available unless any of:
      • You are a(n) Student
      • You are a(n) Teacher

      Use this shared folder to share files among your peers.

    • url icon
      Book Individual Tutoring URL
      Not available unless any of:
      • You are a(n) Student
      • You are a(n) Teacher

      Tuesdays are open tutoring days. Please use this link to book a time slot with the teacher.

    • You can find the full list of student documentation repositories and websites here.

  • Welcome to the introduction week! During this week you will learn more about the course and introduce yourself to the other participants. You will also set up your GitLab repository and learn to publish a website using its CI tools.


    Wed 11 Jan 15:00 (cancelled)
    We will cover the process of creating a GitLab repository and use its CI tools to publish a basic HTML page. This event is cancelled. Please watch videos below.

    Thu 12 Jan 15:00 (local, online)
    We will learn the basics of command line and Git to manage files in your repository.


    Watch the videos listed below. These are recordings from the introduction week last year and show a different approach.

  • This week you are going to dive deeper into topics related to version control and web design along with tips that will help to plan your assignment work better. This week overlaps with the Student Bootcamp week of the Fab Academy which means we will join one of the global sessions on Wednesday. This will be your first contact with the global Fab Academy community.


    Updated: Wed 18 Jan 15:15 (local, hybrid)
    We will have an interactive session where we will cover command line basics, how to install git and other issues you are running into while deploying your documentation website. Make sure that you join the local Zoom class for this one. The change is due to delayed Fab Academy Student Bootcamp which is starting later this year.

    Thu 19 Jan 13:15 (local, hybrid)
    Reviewing websites.
    Using the Hugo static website generator.


    Watch the videos listed below.

  • This week you will learn more about Fab Academy and pick up additional skills that will help you with documentation later in the course.


    Wed 25 Jan 16:00 (online, global)
    Principles and Practices, Project Management by Prof. Neil Gershenfeld.

    Thu 26 Jan 13:15 (online, local)
    We will cover one of the following

    • Image and video optimization techniques.
    • Using Bootstrap 5.0 to spice up your website.
  • This week is about computer-aided design. You should focus on parametric 3D modelling tools. Explore a variety and pick one to design something for your final project.

    At this point, you should already feel familiar with taking screenshots and updating your documentation website.


    Wed 1 Feb 16:00 (online, global)
    Computer-Aided Design by prof. Neil Gershenfeld.

    Thu 2 Feb 13:15 (online, local)
    Introduction to CAD.

  • This week we will cover the basics of computer-controlled cutting, which in the context of this course is lasercutting. This is the first week when you are expected to come to the lab and use the equipment. Make sure that you allocate enough time for it.

    The lasercutter is pre-booked for you during this assignment week. You can use it on a first-come-first-served basis, except when the introduction sessions occur. If you are late with your assignment, use the available booking possibilities on Aalto Fablab website.

    Vinylcutting is also computer-controlled cutting, but the focus of this week is lasercutting. Custom CAD design is required this week. You have to use CAD software of your choice and create an original design.


    Wed 8 Feb 16:00 (online, global)
    Computer-Controlled Cutting by prof. Neil Gershenfeld.

    Thu 9 Feb 13:15 (online, hybrid)
    Review and Introduction to lasercutting. We will have 2 groups that we will form on-site. The introduction will be recorded, but it will take some time for them to be edited. Please be on-site if possible.

    Machine Introductions

    Machines that are relevant for this assignment week are booked for the course. You can use them on a first-come-first-served basis. 

  • This week we will explore the basics of embedded programming. We will use the XIAO RP2040 development board (similar to the Arduino) to get familiar to the Arduino IDE.


    Wed 15 Feb 16:00 (online, global)
    Embedded Programming by prof. Neil Gershenfeld.

    Thu 16 Feb 13:15 (online, hybrid)
    Setting up and using Arduino IDE with XIAO RP2040.

  • This week we are going to learn about 3D printing design rules that will help you to design better objects for 3D printing.


    Wed 22 Feb, 16:00 (online, global)
    3D Scanning and Printing by prof. Neil Gershenfeld.

    Thu 23 Feb, 13:15 (onsite, hybrid)
    Review. Introduction to 3D printing.