Discussion about AMRoC Fab Lab

The Tampa Bay Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics Center (AMRoC) FabLab is dedicated to bridging the manufacturing and industry talent gap through robust project-based engineering education and training. AMRoC FabLab is a collaboratively organized space being installed at University Mall, near the University of South Florida (USF), as part of the new mixed use, city center redevelopment plans for the Mall that will include co-work space, entrepreneurship resources, social enterprise and USF College of Engineering facilities.

At AMRoC, youth and adults will be able to explore science, technology, engineering, manufacturing and related education and career training opportunities. FIRST youth robotics teams and other STEM competition programs will have design, build, practice and meeting space, and local entrepreneurs can access rapid prototyping and small scale manufacturing. Collaborative partners include Hillsborough County Public Library System, USF, St. Petersburg College, SOFWERX and more.

This is the general thread for discussing the lab; the thread is also visible on its page at https://www.fablabs.io/labs/amrocfablab

A look at the genesis and goals of our work developing the AMRoC Fab Lab at University Mall in Tampa - https://ffcdi.org/2018/10/19/amroc-fablab-at-university-mall-in-tampa/

A look at why we decided to organize our facility as a Fab Lab - https://amroctampabay.com/2018/10/22/amroc-the-fab-lab/

We’re making progress on building out AMRoC Fab Lab in Tampa!

We’re STEAMing along! To date - in three short months , AMRoC:

  • Welcomed over 400 people using our facility, about 150 of them students, for meetings, programs and more
  • Three events have been held at AMRoC
  • Six different organizations have utilized the space
  • At least three different independent projects are under development at AMRoC

Our inventory of equipment has grown to include a drill press, mini lathe and laser cutter and we continue to build out with the help of an amazing crew of volunteers! Read more and see photos here:


Construction curtains came down this week, just in time for a FIRST Robotics Competition scrimmage with about a half dozen area teams. While there were only a couple or three field ready robots, the rest of the teams worked hard to get their robots up to speed before this week’s “Bag & Tag”. It was a great test of AMROC Fab Lab’s space configuration and we got great feedback from teams attending the event, overwhelming positive feedback expressing their gratitude for access to the space, and the full sized FRC field.

We also enjoyed a visit from ABB Robotics representation, Synapse, FL and more.

This week , our in-house FIRST Tech Challenge team heads to the Florida FTC State Championship, and then it’s back to the workshop, to start testing and organizing donated tools and equipment, and planning programming for our summer opening.


As we work towards our grand opening in this summer, AMRoC Fab Lab is working hard to have programming in place as well as tools. We’re particularly heartened by the amazing community partners joining in to help build capacity and personal empowerment in the University area community.

Among our first offerings this summer is an ASE G1 Test Prep course, provided by our new associate, Car Care for the Clueless. ASE G1 certification makes it possible to earn higher wages in the automotive industry , not to mention being better able to take care of your car. AMRoC is also in the process of setting up SolidWorks and Autodesk resources for training and certifications. Additionally, Code for Tampa Bay Brigade, the local affiliate of Code for America, meets at the Fab Lab , teaching as they serve.

Interest in programming and training opportunities is already high, as organizations like the Caribbean ‐American National Development Organization reaching out to see how we might collaborate on serving the community’s growing workforce readiness needs.

We’re looking forward to identifying our Sustainability Development Goals and creating the best programming and resource facility we can for the University area development district.

One of our first fabrication projects was our storefront sign! This turned out to be a great project for engaging new volunteers and capturing the interest of our followers on social media and passersby at the Mall. The sign was built completely from scratch, with MDF (Medium-density fiberboard) scrounged from existing materials in the former sportswear store where AMRoC is located. The frame is built of aluminum porch extrusions.

The sign itself was created by projecting the AMRoC logo onto the MDF board, and then cutting out the letters with small handheld multifunction power tool with a cutting edge attachment. The board was then primed and spray painted with a metallic hammered grey finish. The whole thing was mounted to an opaque acrylic panel, behind which LED light fixtures were mounted. Finished with a white backboard to more evenly reflect the light, our finished sign is a beautiful and fitting piece of functional art, collaboratively built by an amazing group of volunteers who believe deeply in the value of this public Fab Lab space.


Recently, as part of the international Fab Lab community drive to encourage alignment with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Foundation for Community Driven Innovation (FCDI) board members and associates met to review the seventeen goals set forth by the UN, to see which seemed most applicable to our location, constituents and capabilities. These SDGs, says the UN, are “a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection. “

As the parent organization of AMRoC, FCDI board members reviewed and considered all of the UN SDGs, before committing AMRoC Fab Lab to three goals the board felt are within reasonable grasp of our fledgling fab lab. Our three goals are:

  • SDG 4: Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. At AMRoC Fab Lab we pledge ourselves to quality educational offerings that inspire and empower, creating agency and self-suffiency by giving youth and adults hands on learning opportunities that develop 21st century soft skills in communications, digital literacy and STEM engagement.

  • SDG 8: Half the world’s population still lives on the equivalent of about US$2 a day. And in too many places, having a job doesn’t guarantee the ability to escape from poverty. AMRoC Fab Lab will help foster economic growth and improve work opportunities by supporting entrepreneurship cabilities , access to training and certifications, and helping create new jobs.

  • SDG 9: Inclusive and sustainable industrial development is the primary source of income generation, allows for rapid and sustained increases in living standards for all people, and provides the technological solutions to environmentally sound industrialization. AMRoC Fab Lab is a living example of industrial innovation, established in a repurposed infrastructure where we bring new value and purpose to a former retail space. At AMRoC Fab Lab, we will contribute to the development of sustainable technological and manufacturing solutions, and leverage micromanufacturing capablities that bring manufacturing within reach of more people and small businesses.

We got off to a great start on all three of those goals with a visit from Tony Selvaggio of eSmart Recycling, which, in addition to salvaging ewaste, also refurbishes computers for youth educational programs. Tony donated several desktops and lap tops to AMRoC, for use in educational programming and training. Additionally, AMRoC will be working with Tony to pilot a youth entrepreneurship program this summer, which he created to get youth thinking about the business development process.

We’re excited about the scope of impact AMRoC Fab Lab can have on the Uptown Tampa community and look forward to getting programs up and running with our great community partners in June!

Follow along our journey at AMROCTampaBay.com and related social media.

Childrens%20Board%201The Foundation for Community Driven Innovation is grateful to the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County for their recognition of AMRoC Fab Lab as the agency’s 2019 Social Enterprise Competition winner. Second place went to AMRoC’s wonderful friends and neighbors at the Caribbean American National Development Organization, Inc. for their Arts & Cafe program. We love that we could share in the honor together, bringing the best of science, technology and the arts to the University Area!

So here’s where we are today: Like everyone else at the moment, we’re in a state of suspended Fab Lab animation. While we may be down, however, we are not out.

As we’ve scaled back at AMRoC Fab Lab, to the point where we’re open only by appointment and for a couple of very small, pre-arranged classes through the end of April, we’re ramping up ways to keep our growing Fab Lab community connected, supported and engaged in safe, enjoyable, useful and instructive ways. One of the things we’ll be doing, starting this week, is running features and special project invitations on our website and social media. Look for guest posts from our partners at U.S. Auto Training, PLUGHITZ Corp, 3D Musketeers and others, and share your own expertise for staying safe, being useful, maintaining our homes and vehicles and caring for each other and our communities in small but powerful ways.

Something else we’re doing is building a robust Resource Library for Citizen Science and DIY COVID resource solutions . We started the resource guide a few days ago with just a few 3D printing resources. Today there are more than a dozen resources on it, all reviewed with an eye to practicality, safety and appropriate site vetting.

The long and the short of it though, is that having something to do is important for our health and sanity. Having something of value and purpose to do is important for our psyche or soul, as the case may be. Productivity matters, for so many reasons. That’s the whole point of AMRoC Fab Lab in the first place. But just because we can’t gather together in groups, doesn’t mean we can’t contribute to our community as individuals.

Like to sew? Help make medical face masks or other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Enjoy computer science? Consider being part of the Folding at Home effort. Want to do some useful 3D printing, there are a lot of COVID-19 related print projects available right now, from respirator valves to door openers to pithy little signs like the one above. Have expertise in medicine? Consider joining the Open Source COVID Medical Supplies Facebook page. A hardware person? Check out Hackaday’s Pandemic Pressure Control Ventilator.

So browse the Resource Library to find useful projects you can do at home, send us your maker stories and news, and stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Social distancing, however long it takes, is only temporary. How we care for each other and support our community will be our legacy.

Make it Matter.

Fab Lab Capabilities for Community Support During COVID-19

Description/Statement of Work

AMRoC Fab Lab is a 7500 sq. ft. public Fabrication Laboratory in Tampa, FL. While the facility is not equipped for large scale manufacturing, it does have the following capabilities that can be scaled with enough staffing and materials support:

• 3D printing – 6 filament machines and 4 Phrozen resin printers
• Sewing machines - 6
• Lasercutter – desktop
• Machine shop equipment – saws, drill press, hand and power tools
• Electronics lab

Coming online soon – and can be expedited with appropriate funding:
• Wazer desktop water jet
• Tormach or similar CNC

AMRoC Fab Lab is prepared to assist however possible, and as the facility is managed by an independent, non-governmental nonprofit organization, it is agile and adaptive. The facility can retool for additional equipment and has a strong array of partners. Additionally, the Fab Lab has a solid professional staff and a strong volunteer base from which to draw.
With public programs currently suspended, AMRoC Fab Lab can be employed as small-scale community-based factory to supplement and support larger efforts, and to fill in gaps where identified. The facility is within three miles of the University of South Florida, Advent Hospital, James Haley VA Hospital, Shriners Healthcare for Children, and Moffitt Cancer Center.

Potential Deliverables
At this time, AMRoC can support small scale but steady production of:
• 3D printed respirator valves
• 3D printed ventilator and other medical equipment parts
• 3D printing & sewing of PPE parts and elements
• Sewing of supplemental face masks
Additional capabilities can be supported with additional equipment and approved materials.

FCDI and AMRoC Fab Lab have a diverse directory of partnerships, including:
• eSmart Recycling
• Hillsborough County Office of Economic Development
• PLUGHITZ Corporation
• Synapse Florida
• Tampa Innovation Partnership
• The CEL (Community Engagement Lab)
• The Lightning Foundation
• Ultimate 3D Printer Store
• U.S. Auto Training
• University of South Florida College of Business
• University of South Florida College of Engineering
• University of South Florida Research and Innovation

Each of these partners, and a few others, bring expertise, and access to resources, equipment, and more to programs and projects developed at or run from AMRoC.

AMRoC Fab Lab is an independent public Fabrication Laboratory with space and capability to provide small scale but valuable supplemental support for the Tampa medical and health care community. Existing resources and equipment can support 3D printing of respirator and ventilator parts, PPE needs and face masks. With additional funding and staffing support, AMRoC Fab Lab can expand capabilities to meet higher production needs.

Contact Information
Terri Willingham – Executive Director, Foundation for Community Driven Innovation

Adding Safety Protocols to COVID-19 Relief Efforts

The DIY list of ways people can help out during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow daily, with everything from face shields and masks to replacement ventilator valves and other devices. However, one important step in the many DIY and how-to project instructions seems glaringly absent: health and safety procedures during the construction and assembly process.

We’ve seen only one two sets of instructions so far that include any discussion of COVID-19 related safety protocols in construction and assembly (and on which we’ve now modeled our own). The first one that caught our eye that dedicated any significant discussion to the need for sanitized production and assembly of a COVID-19 related item, is for the Prusa Face Shield. First and foremost, the instructions advise:

WARNING: Wash your hands and your surroundings first, before you start to assemble the face shield.

The instructions then advise, “ Act as if you were infected by the COVID-19 virus . Wear a face mask and a fresh pair of gloves when collecting each batch of printed parts. Store the parts immediately in a sealable bag.”

It goes on to recommend that those creating the shields communicate with clients and recipients about the condition and type of manufacturing environment in which the shields are made, and recommends not distributing completed shields for at least 2-3 to avoid possible transmission of COVID-19. They also recommend not storing all of the finished stock in one place, to minimize the risk of cross contamination. Read the entire set of sanitation guidelines here.

More recently ( March 28 ), we discovered a great sanitation guide by Tinkerine, as well, related to production of their face shields which are specifically designed for rapid assembly times – just 5 seconds – and very minimal 3D Print time (17 min). Their sanitation guides are quite similar to Prusa’s, with added guidance on disinfecting 3D printers before and after use.

Both of these protocols provide excellent advice that can be applied to development of any 3D printed or other fabricated parts or items intended to be used by health care workers or others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. While cleaning face shields is fairly straightforward, keeping 3D printed items germ free is a little more challenging. One study done last year, found that hydrogen peroxide gas plasma seemed to be effective. Given that most of us don’t have access to hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, other precautions need to be taken with respect to handling and assembling, namely keeping hands clean or using gloves.

With regard to facial masks, the masks can be laundered of course, but they must also be handled in clean environments with clean hands, and completed masks worn by makers to test out, should not be distributed for public use. As with the shields, finished products should be assembled in a clean environment, with clean hands and then stored in sealable bags.

The recommendation to “ act as if you were infected by the COVID-19 virus ” is a good one for the production of any devices, especially PPE related gear intended for those most at risk of harm, and should inspire all makers and labs to be as careful as possible while trying to help.

Basic health and safety precautions can include using face masks, working on clean surfaces, with clean hands or gloves, disinfecting completed items however indicated and then immediately storing them in sealed bags or containers. It’s also important to remember that most of the DIY items making the rounds are supplemental in nature only , and most are not medically approved to protect users against COVID-19 or other viruses. They are stop gap measures, intended to provide some measure of help when there’s nothing else. And that makes it all the more reason to be as careful as we can be.

The more careful we all are, the safer and more useful the help we provide can be for everyone who uses the items we make.

Visit our Resource page to see our list of curated COVID-19 related Resources for the DIY Community. If anyone can contribute to the discussion, with evidence based information or resources, please let us know, here or via our social media pages.

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