Fabrication and Thesis

The following are helpful hints, tips, and information for fabricating your thesis.  Feel free to ask questions at any time.



Timeframe of Thesis

  • Thesis is 14 weeks
  • The first couple of weeks are filled with research and concept generation
  • The last 2 weeks should be devoted to documentation and  presentation
  • A week or two for user testing
  • That leaves 8-10 weeks to build the thing


Who are you

Who Are You and What Are Your Fabricating Abilities?

  • Will you be fabricating part/all of your thesis?
  • Have you built anything before?
  • What are your fabrication abilities?
  • Will your thesis be using your fabricating abilities?



What Will You be Making?

  • How big is it?
  • How is it made?
  • Are special tools needed?
  • How expensive will it be?


Possible resources

Fabrication Resources



Paper Prototype

Don’t Wait to Fabricate

  • Start now
  • Drawings, doesn’t need to be CAD
  • Paper prototypes
  • Cardboard mockups
  • Keep everything, document everything



Everything is a Prototype

  • Nothing in thesis is the finished product
  • Nothing is perfect, done is better than perfect
  • Whenever possible, keep it simple
  • Nothing is precious


Assembly of parts

Prototype Early and Often

  • Fail Fast: Build something, learn something, build something, learn something, …
  • Initial prototypes shouldn’t solve everything
  • A prototype should get you closer to the goal, it should answer a question
  • A bunch of prototypes are better than one


Wrench and screwdriver

Should You Learn New Tools and Techniques for Your Thesis?

  • Yes/No/Maybe
  • We’ve got a lot of new tools
  • Should you learn CAD, which CAD is best


Person with blueprints

Should You Make It Yourself?

  • Can you buy it off the shelf?
  • Can you slap a bunch of pre-existing hardware together?
  • Can you pay someone to make it for you – Local Fabrication Shops


Laser cutter

Where Should You Make It?




  • Get material, get it right now, not having material is the #1 holdup of a project
  • ITP Favorites: McMaster-Carr, Canal Plastic, Prince Lumber, the Junk Shelf
  • Environmentally friendly materials whenever possible


Material with pieces removed

Material Tips

  • Know what materials are considered “Standard”, what are “Exotic”, avoid Exotic
  • What is one-of-a-kind vs. off-the-shelf
  • Go in on material with other students, cut delivery costs
  • Times everything by PI: cost, amount, delivery time




  • Keep url’s of material suppliers
  • Create a Bill of Materials (BOM)
  • Quick smart phone pictures/videos are better than nothing
  • Process is just as important as finished project



Common Roadblocks




Last Bits of Advice

  • Get Started
  • Fail Fast, don’t let anything hold you up
  • Keep It Simple
  • Times by Pi