The Lux Lab's purpose is to expand what UCLA can accomplish by bringing emerging technologies to campus. Our unique maker-service allows fast and convenient access to 3D printing, scanning, and laser etching services for little or no cost to our patrons. We have helped overcome obstacles for researchers, professors, and students across campus in all subjects - these technologies are applicable to more than the sciences. Here are a few examples of past projects where we worked creatively with our patrons to fulfill their needs.
Students from the UCLA Theater, Film, and Television put on a production of Paula Vogel's "The Long Christmas Ride Home" featuring both live actors and custom-built puppets inspired by the Japanese puppetry form "bunraku." To create the heads of the puppets, the Lux Lab worked with the TFT prop master to 3D scan the faces of each of the principal actors in the show. The scans were turned into 3D files and printed in white PLA filament, then painted by the TFT props crew to further recreate the physical features of the actors. The puppets served as the play’s central semiotic tool, helping the audience fully understand the show’s emphasis on memory and familial relations as intended by the playwright.
We also work with a number of student organizations across campus. The UCLA Rocket Project is a collegiate-level engineering team housed within the UCLA American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The Lux Lab has assisted the students of the Rocket Project with a number of their competitive and educational projects. We routinely 3D-print custom rocket parts designed by the members of the project, creating essential parts for their rocket designs. They have won numerous national competitions for rocket design and performance, and rely on the Lux Lab for reliable and fast printing to complete project deadlines on time.
Our projects haven't been limited to the boundaries of campus. In 2018, the Lux Lab was asked to travel to Turin, Italy with Michael Chen, an doctoral candidate in archaeology researching his thesis on Late Period Egyptian healing stones. Chen wanted to create 3D scans of a collection of artifacts housed in the Museo Egizio in Italy. His research centers around the way people interacted and used ancient objects, and he used 3D-rendered images to put the artifacts through tests and learn more about ancient Egyptian healing rituals.
Some of our most interesting projects come from the many research laboratories attached to UCLA. A postdoctoral researcher working in the Pinter-Wollman Lab reached out to the Lux Lab for assistance building custom ant colonies for her research investigating the consequences of colony size evolution on interaction networks. She was able to design ant colonies with varying chamber sizes then cut them out of clear acrylic with our laser cutting services. She has been observing to see if and how colony size changes the way ants communicate with each other, tackle obstacles, and organize to complete tasks. Without access to the Lux Lab the researcher would have had to pay a private service to laser cut her designs. Private services like these are too costly for most research budgets, and it can be weeks before an appointment is available.