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Introducing… Advanced Hackspace


Hackspace visor factory in operation at White City during lockdown.

Advanced Hackspace is Imperial College’s accessible prototyping space. What started as a little-known workshop space in South Kensington has expanded into a purpose designed workshop and lab space at the College’s new White City campus. Hackspace is unique in offering workshop and lab space to all students and staff of the College across all departments and levels. The space attracts inventive minds making it the place to be for rapid development and prototyping of innovative projects. It is a community hub for all backgrounds, disciplines and levels of expertise fostering collaboration, experimentation and innovation. 

The space is divided into three distinct workshop and lab zones including an electronic and digital manufacturing space with equipment for electronics fabrication and a range of 3D printers and laser cutters, a mechanical workshop for heavier fabrication tasks and a biochemistry laboratory. The availability of the facilities to all of College and the unique juxtaposition of the zones is one of the main strengths of the Hackspace; nowhere else in College can you find these facilities all under the same roof. 

Projects range from simple one-off fabrication using the range of 3D printers on offer, to continuing advanced prototyping projects. Due to the agility of the space it even operated a ‘pop-up’ factory for the assembly of personal protective equipment for the hospitals of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust during the recent lockdown. Examples of the range of member projects from the space include: 

Rapid prototype of cell culture chips for pharmaceutical screening. Protype chips were fabricated using a biocompatible resin on a formlabs SLA printer. Due to the rapid fabrication and the versatility of the printer, complex geometries could be easily created and modified over multiple iterations of design and testing to perfect the final functional chips. 

X-Ray sample holders for X-ray computed tomography of samples under compression. The sample holders were fabricated from the engineering plastic PEEK. Multiple iterations were manufactured by the hackspace to create the final functional design. 

3D printed cell culture chips for medical research. 

Hackspace support this summer 

While the Hackspace physical spaces have been temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are still offering a roster of online support and activities for members.  

Prototyping for Research sessions 

For researchers who are back in the lab, dedicated ‘Prototyping for Research’ sessions are available on Thursday afternoons between 3pm – 6pm. An opportunity for you to accelerate your research projects with prototyping and design support from the Hackspace team, these are 30-minute collaborative discussions on research project challenges, and whether alternative or new techniques, skills and possible prototyping solutions could be applied to support your experiments. Sessions are bookable on Calendly and sign up is simple – visit this link here and select a date and time. 

Hack at Home sessions 

For members with other projects the Hackspace has introduced ‘Hack at Home’ sessions – this is an opportunity to discuss your project and get support from Hackspace team to get ideas off the ground, or ask any burning questions you might have. These sessions run every Tuesday between 10am – 1pm and can be booked on Calendly. Sign up is simple – just visit this link here and choose your date and time.  

Hack at Home Challenges 

In May the Hackspace launched ‘Hack at Home Challenges’ which will continue throughout the summer. These are designed to be fun activities to keep minds and hands active. Previous challenges have included hacking a better way to secure surgical masks and designing an adapter for the 3M Bayonet Connection System using CAD. To get involved with future challenges and be in with a chance of winning the available prizes, sign up to the Hackspace mailing list for updates. 

Further information about the Hackspace and updates on activities can be found at imperialhackspace.com. Stay up-to-date by joining the mailing list and follow the Hackspace on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  

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