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Shaping your future with the FabLab™ Metal Lathe

The 109-year-old Swift Canadian Wholesale Market building at the corner of Adelaide and William in Winnipeg Manitoba’s historic Exchange District, once housed a pickling facility, a coal fuel storage, and a butter churning room. Now it is home to North America’s largest non-profit publicly accessible fabrication lab, the North Forge FabLab.

The 109-year-old Swift Canadian Wholesale Market building at the corner of Adelaide and William in Winnipeg Manitoba’s historic Exchange District, once housed a pickling facility, a coal fuel storage, and a butter churning room. Now it is home to North America’s largest non-profit publicly accessible fabrication lab, the North Forge FabLab™, with hundreds of ultra precision machines and equipment including our new metal lathe.

Within the 12,000+ square feet of Founder workspaces, you’ll find our MetalWorking Room with many heavy-duty machines, along with the Baileigh Metal Lathe, residing inside. Lathes are designed to remove, (known in the manufacturing industry as subtracting), material from workpieces by exposing them to a cutting tool. It works by rotating the workpiece around a stationary tool, allowing for fast, efficient, and precise removal of material. 

With its incredible capability to shape metals, lathes can be used to produce cylindrical or conical surfaces, screw threads, drill holes on metal parts, knurl metal surfaces (criss-cross texture for grip or decoration), create tapered edges, cutting, grooving, and turning (cross-section cutting) operations. Metal lathes are indispensable tools for mechanics in many industries as they can be used to maintain, repair, or fabricate mechanical parts from scratch for use in prototyping, custom or unique one-off projects. 

Entrepreneurs can stretch their imaginations using the metal lathe and create prototypes, odd-sized tools, out of production parts, promotional materials, jewelry, cutlery, and rethread bolts or screws  – the list is endless. Many industries have reaped the benefits of our metal lathe: blacksmithing, construction, motocross, automotive, HVAC, aerospace, mining, engineering, architects, energy, and more.

When Lawrence Rosdobutko joined the FabLab in 2014, he realized the MetalWorking Room had a lot of potential. Within his first week of membership, he chatted with Kerry Stevenson, FabLab Board Member and Founder of Fabbaloo, about his thoughts on increasing the room’s efficiency. With Kerry’s immediate thumb’s up, Lawrence started working on maximizing the metal room’s capabilities by building a larger table workspace. He came up with a plan for installing more storage and heavy-duty machines that many industries and entrepreneurs would be able to use for their projects safely and efficiently. Purchasing the metal lathe was a must for the metalworking room.

Safety is of utmost importance when working with any machine. The FabLab is SAFE Work Certified by Made Safe and has developed a Health and Safety Program as a part of its mission to foster founder growth safely. FabLab’s knowledgeable industry volunteers are an important part of helping create and maintain safety standards. 

Lawrence and John Hache, who also joined in 2014 just shortly before Lawrence, are collaborating on the metal lathe safety program that’s due for completion at the end of May 2021. With input from industry and FabLab members, Josh Hiebert and Richard Venson, they are creating a strong and well-rounded safety program to give members the knowledge they need to operate the metal lathe safely so as to not hurt themselves or others. It will also include housekeeping instructions on how to maintain the machine’s good working conditions so that other members can rely on the machine’s 1/1000th inch accuracy for their projects.

The thriving FabLab community comes together to share ideas and work through business, manufacturing, and mechanical issues. Lawrence and John are known to help troubleshoot mechanical problems when they arise with the metal lathe. There was an issue where a new drill chuck would not properly hold tight into the end of the tailstock. After researching, head scratching, and the power of teamwork, the drill chuck finally stayed in place. Lawrence chuckled as he contributed their troubleshooting success to “the sheer power of friendship – teamwork makes the dream work!”

If you’d like to use the metal lathe, or any of the other ultra precision equipment at the FabLab, join today!

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