FabFriday: Explore More Construction Materials!

Welcome to FabFriday, a blog series that highlights tips and tricks for using Fab@School Maker Studio. Fab@ School Maker Studio is a web-based digital fabrication software tool that creates a more accessible, comfortable onramp for teachers to introduce STEM learning to their students. Each week we'll be posting ideas about using different materials, design tips, and construction techniques to help you offer even more fab learning to your students. In future posts, we'd love to share YOUR tips and ideas about how your'e using Fab@School Maker Studio. For more FabFriday posts, click here. Try out some or all of these techniques in the Winter Design Challenge!

Fab@School Maker Studio provides engaging digital fabrication/desktop manufacturing tools where elementary and middle school students can make, test, and revise 2D designs, pop-ups, 3D objects, and working machines as they learn science, technology, engineering, and math concepts in a meaningful context. Fab@School Maker Studio uses paper for most activities, allowing for a fast-paced and low-cost design experience. However, not all papers are created equal! Just like how a painter can choose between a wide variety of oils, acrylics, and watercolors, a Fab@School engineer has many choices of building materials. Let’s explore how you can use these materials to their greatest advantage and design more complex constructions!

Copy Paper

This thin white paper is most commonly used in printers. While it is not strong enough for most Fab@School projects, it can be used for prototyping to experiment with your cut, fold, and tab lines before switching to a special sheet of colored or printed paper. Thin paper is also very helpful when making windmills, airplanes, or other projects where a lighter weight construction is needed. 

 

Check out all of these activities, which have all been created from 65lb Cardstock.

Check out all of these activities, which have all been created from 65lb Cardstock.

65lb Cardstock

65lb cardstock comes in a wide variety of colors, and is a fantastic mix between structural rigidity and flexibility. It is perfect for 2D, Pop-Up, and 3D construction, as well as projects with simple moving parts. It comes in packs of individual or mixed colors, making it easy to bring a splash of color to your creation. I recommend using this material most often, as it is very diverse. 

 

 

This trebuchet catapult was designed with 110lb cardstock to survive the forces of the counterweight and throwing arm!

This trebuchet catapult was designed with 110lb cardstock to survive the forces of the counterweight and throwing arm!

110lb cardstock

For when 65llb cardstock doesn’t quite cut it, 110lb cardstock opens up the opportunity for stronger construction, more complicated designs, and longer lasting moving parts. While it does not come in as wide of a variety of colors, it makes up for it in strength. Combine it with 65lb cardstock to reinforce critical pieces of your design, or create an entire model with 110lb cardstock for extra durability. 

 

Pattern and Special Paper

Even decorative papers provide a potential engineering decision! You can use patterned or colored paper to customize and differentiate different parts of your design, or to make your project look more realistic! I used metallic-colored cardstock to make these cars look like they have a shiny coat of paint, and vellum paper was used to create transparent windows!

 

Do More With Lamination

You can combine all of these different weights of paper to customize your projects! Try gluing entire layers of paper together to create a thicker construction, or combine 65lb and 110lb cardstock to create a structural base with colored cardstock layered on top.

You can also pinpoint sections of your design that need more rigidity and layer 110lb cardstock into just these areas. Check out this STEAM-Infused STORM electric motorcycle made using lamination techniques. 110lb cardstock was used to construct the base of the motorcycle body, and then a layer of colored 65lb cardstock was glued on top to simultaneously fortify and decorate the motorcycle. 

Sometimes I choose which materials to use in order to achieve a certain goal, and other times I decide what I want to build based on available materials. Experiment with as many kinds of paper and cardstock as you can, in whichever order your creative mind flows! 

Here's your chance to show what you know! Use these FabFriday tips in the Winter Design Challenge

How are you using different kinds of paper with your Fab@School creations?  In future posts, we'd love to share YOUR tips and ideas about how your'e using Fab@School Maker Studio. Send your photos to Patrick@FableVisionLearning.com to have them featured in an upcoming FabFriday! For more FabFriday posts, click here