Category: FAB Lab

FAB Lab Branding

The Typography and Graphic Communication department is introducing a FAB Lab (Fabrication lab), dedicating a designated area in the T3 studio to different machines to aid students in design projects; the FAB Lab currently consists of a Cricut maker, laser cutter and toner foiler, although is open to adding more machines in the future. By placing these machines together in an accessible and organised area, the goal is to encourage and increase the use of these machines through promotion in the department building and its Instagram, as well as direct and easy access to vital information and instructions regarding the use of said machines through QR codes. The instructions for the machines are written through a collaboration of both students and staff of the department to ensure level understanding of all users and optimum accuracy.

 

Brief

We were tasked with creating a brand for our department’s making kit to encourage and educate students and staff to use the machines safely and to their full potential. The original brief included introduction panels, user guides, and promotion within the department. However, we expanded this to include a promotional leaflet, Instagram templates and QR code stickers  as additional deliverables as we felt these would play a vital part in educating and ultimately pushing this equipment as a brand. We were provided with copy, images and videos but our client gave us full freedom when it came to the branding.

 

Deliverables

  • 3 informative posters about how to use each piece of equipment
  • 1 promotional poster for FAB lab
  • 3 multi-page online documents using diagrams to explain how to use each piece of equipment
  • Launch Instagram post
  • Hand-out including brief explanation and QR codes
  • Campaign plan to promote the equipment on Instagram
  • 3 stickers of QR codes made using the machine they relate to

This report discusses the first five deliverables as the campaign plan and QR code stickers are still under development.

 

Branding

Our clients did not have specific requests for the branding of the design deliverables, they just asked for the branding to be consistent and impactful enough for each machine poster in terms of poster layout, colours and typography so that can be it can be translated across the handouts and promotional materials too. Initially, our branding consisted of only using pastel colours assigned to each machine, illustrations of the actual machines and background patterns (Figure 1). However, after developing our trifold handout with Memphis shapes, we decided it would make our branding stronger if the shapes were used on all deliverables (Figure 2). This branding reflects the creativity and fun the machines allow you to have.


Figure 1: example of original branding

 


Figure 2: example of final branding

 

Audience

We identified our audience as students of the Typography and Graphic Communication department, both undergraduate and postgraduate. This was advantageous to us in our design process as we are undergraduate students working with a postgraduate student, allowing us to immerse ourselves in an audience perspective and easily gain feedback from other students, a vital part in the process of editing our copy. We ensured our information was easy to understand from a non-designer perspective for students without previous experience, as well as users from other departments that may have an interest in the FAB Lab.

 

Research and ideation

When approaching this project, we decided it would be beneficial to research posters, instructional materials, and online document design. Regarding posters, we identified that distinct separated sections seemed most efficient to display information clearly, colourful colour palettes and varying shapes gather interest, and clear visual hierarchy between text and illustration are vital (Figure 3). The main thing we found out about online documents that we wanted to take forward was large numbers that indicate the step readers are on allow for enhanced user navigation and engagement (Figure 4). After researching instructional materials, it became clear that complementary images for most, if not all instructions would be useful for users who are unfamiliar with the machines. Additionally, overviews and summaries are effective as instructions can be long, as these FAB Lab instructions are (Figure 5).


Figure 3: Poster research

 


figure 4: Online document research

 


figure 5: Instructional Material Research

 

Creative direction

Based on our research, we decided to take an illustrative and visual approach, incorporating drawings of the machines themselves to enhance their recognition by students and staff. Additionally, we needed to establish a clear typographic hierarchy and structure for each deliverable to ensure that the department could access the information with ease.

 

Design development

Informative machine posters

We initially decided to create these posters at banner paper scale (Figure 6). However, this changed as we decided that not all copy on it was relevant for the poster and could be more useful on the instructions. After evaluating the designated wall space, we changed our poster scale to A3.


figure 6 – Cricut Maker poster v1

 

We decided early on that we wanted an illustration of each machine to be the focal point of the informative posters; this would add visual interest whilst creating a clear link between poster and machine without using a photograph, repeating what the user is seeing.

To further give each poster its own identity, we implemented geometric backgrounds to reflect each machine; a square grid to mirror the Cricut’s grid mat and a hexagonal grid to mimic the laser cutter’s honeycomb grid. There was no significant shape from the toner foiler and so we chose a dotted pattern for its poster background. These patterns were added in an off-white colour to ensure visibility without sacrificing legibility of text. As well as ensuring the shapes did not affect readability, we also had to make sure that the shapes were of similar size to each other to establish consistency in visual appearance across all posters. This became especially apparent in the creation of the poster for the Toner Foiler. Its background dots were too big and prominent in comparison to the other posters’ background shapes (Figure 7), especially apparent when printed, and therefore were sized down accordingly (Figure 8).


Figure 7 – Toner foiler poster with larger dot pattern
figure 8 – toner foiler poster with smaller dot pattern

 

We also gave each machine a designated colour for clear differentiation between the three machines, which allowed us to establish consistency in our colour palette for other deliverables. The Cricut machine’s colour was taken from the Cricut logo, the laser cutter was taken from its brand’s logo (Glowforge) and we allocated the toner foiler with a suitable pink shade, as its brand had no specific colour we could replicate. These colours were used at different tints for typographic hierarchy and other design elements throughout our different design outputs as well, where we had to ensure the same tint was used correctly throughout our outputs.

We chose the typeface ‘Effra’, as it is commonly used by the University, enabling familiarity and comfort in reading and ensuring clear legibility through its effective letterform design.

For each poster’s title, we initially decided to create them as products of the machines themselves e.g. cutting out the letters using the Cricut Maker, however realised this could be a problem in maintenance, in the case they get damaged. We later decided to take this idea forward for the branding of the designated FAB Lab wall itself and instead chose bold, black letters, initially grey as placeholders, for the poster titles to ensure clarity (Figure 9 and 10).

Figure 9 – Toner foiler poster title v1
Figure 10 – toner foiler poster title v2

 

The final design component of these posters was the addition of Memphis shapes created in the hand-out leaflet to establish a connection between all design outputs, effectively creating a FAB Lab branding style. Adding to this branding, we placed a ‘FAB Lab’ label at the top of each poster to further establish identity, allowing consistency in the case of future machine and poster additions.

 

Promotional poster

The promotional poster was designed to be at banner paper scale to adhere to our copy size and hold high visual value on the walls of the department. This allows for FAB Lab to be effectively advertised, especially considering other features that may also be on the walls. Using the already established colour palette and existing components, the promotional poster was created effectively with ease, being visually engaging whilst maintaining the brand’s design identity.


figure 11 – promotional poster that will be placed around department

 

Online documents

This deliverable brought some challenges as there was a lot of copy to handle. We tested the original copy provided to us by the client and made edits accordingly, including creating diagrams on how to use the laser cutter software in a similar style to the Cricut instructions for consistency. Another round of testing was completed and further edits were made. At this point, we were advised to add another section, that was not included in the original copy, to the foiler instructions to guide students who wanted to foil on top of a coloured background or image. This required us to spend time with Geoff learning about this process, taking our own photographs, and writing the instructions in the same language and manner as the ones written by the client. This was challenging as due to the technicality of this process, the instructions had to be detailed which therefore did not directly reflect the writing style of the client.

Initially, the documents were designed on InDesign (Figure 12, 13 and 14). These designs obviously reflect the FAB Lab branding due to colour and patterns, and are easy to follow due to the large numbers. A negative about these are the format as it is not suitable for online use on phones as it would not scroll well. It was then later discussed that it would be beneficial if these online instructions were hosted on typography.network as a blog post. This platform limited the creativity of the design, however, these three featured images were created to ensure the branding was apparent within these instructions (Figure 15, 16 and 17). We made use of the different set paragraph styles in WordPress as they are long documents so require a tool to help users with navigation.


Figure 12 – Cricut Maker online document v1
figure 13 – Laser Cutter online document v1
figure 14 – toner foiler online document v1

 


Figure 15 – featured image for Cricut Maker online document
figure 16 – featured image for Laser Cutter online document
figure 17 – featured imaged for toner foiler online document

 

Hand-out leaflet

The purpose of the hand-out leaflets was to convey information about the department’s machines in a quick and concise way to encourage staff and students to use them more. We researched various formats of leaflet such as two and three-page leaflets, square trifold formats, and booklet formats. After careful consideration, we decided to use the square trifold format as it offered ample space to showcase all the essential components of the leaflet. Although we attempted to sketch out some designs, none of them were suitable or approved by the group (Figure 18). Therefore, we took the time to explore different art styles that would help us come up with a new design solution.


Figure 18: Sketch of Handout leaflet

 

It is here where we found Memphis shapes and decided to use it on our handouts. Memphis design is a post-modern movement and aesthetic that uses vibrant colours, geometric shapes and bold patterns based on art-deco. So, we took the style of Memphis and implemented it into our work, the shapes and lines were drawn in a way that echoed the equipment’s characteristics (e.g. grid for Cricut maker, hexagon for Laser Cutter etc) while also maintaining the aesthetics of Memphis. To keep it consistent we used the same colour palette and also kept similar components such as the QR codes, typographic hierarchy, and layout. We showed it to our client for feedback – they liked the direction that the handout was moving towards but requested some adjustments to the structure of the inside pages, and the body copy. We took these into consideration and worked together to make appropriate changes for the leaflet.


Figure 19: Handout leaflet v1

 


Figure 20: Handout leaflet v2

 

Instagram post

The social media launch post was created to promote FAB Lab through the department’s Instagram. The decision was made to maintain similar content as the handouts with some variations to ensure they were suitable for promotional purposes on social media.

We made the “why, what, where” of FAB Lab more detailed as those learning about FAB Lab through Instagram, as opposed to in department, would not be able to go straight to T3 to see what it is about. Similar to other deliverables, we also added machine illustrations, a summary of their functions, and key facts to remember when operating them. The post had similar typographic hierarchy, Memphis shapes, colours, patterns, and background as the leaflet, but with minor differences in placement. We made some final changes to the shapes, colours, illustrations, textbox placement, and body copy before finalising the post.


Figure 21 – explanation  Social Media Template v1
figure 22 – explanation social media template v2

 

 
Figure 23 – machine Social Media template v1
Figure 24 – machine social media template v2

 

Proposed exhibition space

Although this part of the project is yet to be finished, I made a sketch for a proposed exhibition space (Figure 25). It outlines where the informative machine posters would sit in relation to the machines, as well as how the wall could be branded so that area was evidentially the ‘FAB Lab’. The intention behind the ‘FAB LAB’ lettering in the sketch is that each letter would be made using one of the machines and the shapes on the wall would be vinyl stickers.


figure 25 – sketch of exhibition space

 

QR code stickers

We came up with the idea of this deliverable when we first were brainstorming about the project as a group. Having had conversations with the client, we discovered the idea of creating stickers for each machine using the relevant machine was feasible. So, each sticker would have a QR code on that would lead users to the online instructions. The laser cutter sticker would be made out of acrylic, and the QR code would be shaded in so it was scannable. The toner foiler sticker would have a foiled QR code, and the Cricut Maker sticker would be made out of vinyl.

 

Final deliverables

Informative posters

 

Promotional poster

 

Online instructions

Link to online instructions for Cricut Maker

Link to online instructions for Laser Cutter

Link to online instructions for Toner Foiler

 

Hand-out leaflet

 

Social media post

 

Personal reflection

I have learnt and improved on lots of skills throughout this project which I will be able to take forward and build on in future projects. I was given the role of project manager which brought challenges whereby I was working with designers who had not done a real job before so I had the opportunity to guide them through it. Additionally, I led meetings both with designers and clients, as well as taking minutes and adding them to an ongoing document. We learnt to collaborate effectively by identifying each other’s strengths and using them to our advantage to efficiently create these deliverables. This job brought about my first experience dealing with clients within our department, but it was a very positive one as we worked well with them due to frequent contact and honesty from both clients and designers. Another skill I have had the opportunity to improve is how to present work in a professional manner to the clients. As we were working for clients in department, we were able to show our work in person every time and verbally go through the reasonings behind design decisions, meaning the client could understand the justification and edits we made. Additionally, regarding file management, we had a shared folder that contained everything we created and needed for the project which ensured for a coherent experience when designing collaboratively. Due to the nature of this project, I gained a deeper understanding of all of the equipment, mainly through having to test and edit the step-by-step instructions myself. This in turn has led me to being able to enhance the finishes on my personal projects. It helped that we as designers were often communicating with one another as well. One thing we could have improved on was time management as we did not stick to the schedule in the end.

FAB Lab Laser Cutter Instructions

How to laser cut using Glowforge materials

1. Create your file for laser cutting using Adobe Illustrator and save file as SVG, PDF, JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG.
2. Login in to glowforge.com.
3. Switch on laser cutter (switch at back of machine) and place Glowforge material on bed of laser cutter. The camera will read the QR code on the Glowforge material and set the speed and power using the QR code.
4. Select ‘Create new design’ and ‘Upload a file’ (see photo 1). Your computer screen will display the bed of the laser cutter, the material you placed on the bed of the laser cutter, and the file you uploaded. If you are using black acrylic, put a piece of white paper under it so you can see it. Make sure to remove it before laser cutting.

 


Photo 1

5. Move the uploaded file to the space on the material you wish to cut (make sure it is within the material and not overlapping any edges).
6. Check the ‘Engrave’ and ‘Cut’ settings to check your file will be engraved and cut as desired. Solid shapes will be engraved, thin lines will be cut (if the uploaded file is not correct return to Illustrator, adjust file, and upload a new file).

7. Switch on extraction unit (the laser cutter will not run without fume extraction).
8. Press ‘Print’ to send your file to laser cutter. This is the stage where you would remove white paper from the machine if using black acrylic. You may need to repeat some previous steps as the lid has been opened).

9. To start laser cutter, press flashing switch on top of laser cutter. Your computer screen will display how long your file will take to cut and when process is complete. If anything goes wrong, press ‘Stop’ on your computer.
10. Wait until your computer says the cutting has finished and then open lid and remove material.
11. Switch off laser cutter and extraction unit.

 

How to laser cut not using Glowforge materials

1. Create your file for laser cutting using Adobe Illustrator and save file as SVG, PDF, JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG.
2. Login in to glowforge.com.
3. Switch on Glowforge laser cutter (switch at back of machine) and place material on bed of laser cutter.
4. Select ‘Create new design’ and ‘Upload a file’ (see photo 1). Your computer screen will display the bed of the laser cutter, the material you placed on the bed of the laser cutter and the file you uploaded. If you are using black acrylic, put a piece of white paper under it so you can see it. Make sure to remove it before laser cutting.


Photo 1

5. Move your uploaded file to the space on the material you wish to cut (make sure it is within the material and not overlapping edges).
6. Check the ‘Engrave’ and ‘Cut’ settings on your file to make sure your file will be cut and engraved as required. Solid shapes will be engraved, thin lines will be cut (if the uploaded file is not correct return to Illustrator, adjust file, and upload a new file).

7. Switch on extraction unit (the laser cutter will not run without fume extraction).
8. Press ‘Print’ to send your file to laser cutter. (This is the stage where you would remove white paper from the machine if using black acrylic. You may need to repeat some previous steps as the lid has been opened).

9. To start laser cutter, press flashing switch on top of laser cutter. Your computer screen will display how long your file will take to cut. If anything goes wrong, press ‘Stop’ on your computer.
10. Wait until your computer says the cutting has finished and then open lid and remove material.
11. Switch off laser cutter and extraction unit.

FAB Lab Cricut Maker Instructions

How to die cut plain paper, card and adhesive vinyl

 

1. Move Cricut Maker to table which allows for movement of the cutting mat (see photo 1).


Photo 1

2. Open top and front flaps and switch Cricut Maker on (see photo 2).


Photo 2

3. Open ‘Cricut Design Space’ app and click ‘Canvas’ tab.
4. Upload a SVG, JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG or DXF file, or create your own design in the ‘Cricut Design Space’ app. You can change the colour of your shapes to make them easier to see on the canvas background by selecting items in the ‘Layers’ window and changing the colour (small box on top tool bar, see photo 3). Once upload complete select ‘Add to Canvas’.


Photo 3

5. Move your selection to fit within your page size (always leave a margin of at least 1.5cm).
6. Select image type based on the complexity of image, then press ‘Continue’.
7. In ‘Layers’ panel select ‘Attach’ to group your items together (if you don’t do this your shapes will be moved around by the app in the next stage to optimise the cutting material) (see photo 4).


Photo 4

8. Select ‘Basic cut’ in ‘Operation’ tab at the top of your screen (see photo 5A).


Photo 5A

9. Select ‘Cricut Maker’ in ‘Maker’ tab (see photo 6).


Photo 6

10. Select ‘Make’ (top right) and select relevant cutting mat size. Place paper stock to be cut on cutting mat in top left corner of grid and load cutting mat in placement slots on Cricut Maker loading bed (see photo 7A).


Photo 7A

11. Select ‘Continue’ and follow prompts on screen to select paper stock (see photo 8) and start the process by pressing buttons on Cricut Maker as directed on screen until die cutting complete (see photo 9).


Photo 8

Photo 9

12. Switch off Cricut Maker. Return to side area for storage, return cutting mat to storage area.

 

How to die cut printed paper, card and sticker stock

1. Move Cricut Maker to table which allows for movement of the cutting mat (see photo 1).


Photo 1

2. Open top and front flaps and switch Cricut Maker on (see photo 2).


Photo 2

3. Open ‘Cricut Design Space’ app and click ‘Canvas’ tab.
4. Upload a SVG, JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG or DXF file, or create your own design in the ‘Cricut Design Space’ app. You can change the colour of your shapes to make them easier to see on the canvas background by selecting items in the ‘Layers’ window and changing the colour (small box on top tool bar, see photo 3). Once upload complete select ‘Add to Canvas’.


Photo 3

5. Move your selection to fit within your page size (always leave a margin of at least 1.5cm around edges).
6. Select image type based on the complexity of image, then press ‘Continue’.
7. Select ‘Print Then Cut’ in ‘Operation’ tab (see photo 5B).


Photo 5B

8. Select ‘Cricut Maker’ in ‘Maker’ tab (see photo 6).


Photo 6

9. In ‘Layers’ panel select ‘Flatten’ (to group your layers and so that the printed area won’t be cut by Cricut Maker after printing).
10. Select ‘Make’ (top right) and select relevant cutting mat size. In next window check paper size is set to A4, select ‘Continue’. In next window select ‘Send to printer’, select the printer you require and ‘print’ (if using bypass tray select ‘Use system dialogue box’). The Cricut will add required registration marks to your print (photo 10).


Photo 10

11. Place print on cutting mat and place mat in placement slots on Cricut Maker bed (see photo 12).


Photo 12

12. Return to Cricut screen and select ‘Base material’ (paper stock) to the type of paper stock you are cutting. Follow prompts on screen pressing buttons on Cricut Maker as directed on screen until die cutting complete (see photo 9).


Photo 9

13. Switch off Cricut Maker. Return to side area for storage, return cutting mat to storage area.

 

How to die cut foiled paper, card and sticker stock

1. Move Cricut Maker to table which allows for movement of the cutting mat (see photo 1).


Photo 1

2. Open top and front flaps and switch Cricut Maker on (see photo 2).


Photo 2

3. Open ‘Cricut Design Space’ app and click ‘Canvas’ tab.
4. Upload a SVG file with black toner area for foiling set to Cyan 50%, Magenta 50%, Yellow 50% and key 50% (when upload complete select ‘Add to Canvas’). You can change the colour of yourshapes to make them easier to see on the Cricut canvas background by selecting items in the’Layers’ window and changing the colour (small box on top tool bar, see photo 4).


Photo 4

5. Move your selection to fit within your page size (always leave a margin of at least 5cm around edges).
6. Select image type based on the complexity of image, then press ‘Continue’.
7. Select ‘Print Then Cut’ in ‘Operation’ tab (see photo 5B).


Photo 5B

8. Select ‘Cricut Maker’ in ‘Maker’ tab (see photo 6).


Photo 6

9. In ‘Layers’ panel select ‘Flatten’ (to group your layers and so that the foiled area won’t be cut by Cricut Maker after foiling).
10. Select ‘Make’ (top right) and select relevant cutting mat size. In next window check paper size is set to A4, select ‘Continue’. In next window select ‘Send to printer’, select the printer you require and ‘print’ (if using bypass tray select ‘Use system dialogue box’). The Cricut will add required registration marks to your print (see photo 10).


Photo 10

11. Attach foil to area of toner to be foiled using Washi tape (see photo 11) and run through Toner Foiler (see Toner Foiler instructions). Remove unused foil.


Photo 11

12. Place foiled vinyl on cutting mat and place mat in placement slots on Cricut Maker bed (see photo 12).


photo 12

13. Return to Cricut screen and select ‘Base material’ (paper stock), ‘Vinyl’ and ‘Make’. Follow prompts on screen pressing buttons on Cricut Maker as directed on screen until die cutting complete (see photo 9).


photo 9

14. Switch off Cricut Maker. Return to side area for storage, return cutting mat to storage area.