We’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs in the past few years, and one of the most challenging parts of building a business is the ability to prototype a product. Vault Labs – new in 2017 – is a fully equipped and staffed prototyping lab for building early versions of hardware, software, and virtual reality products.
Vault Labs consists of:
- A 1,100sf Engineering Prototyping lab, equipped with several 3D printers, electronics equipment, and more.
- A Virtual Reality Lab, equipped with workstations with Unity software, and HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens, and other virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) devices.
- Mentoring and support for entrepreneurs from Jesse Lane, our in-house Engineer-in-Residence, as well as local volunteer mentors.
- Training courses to use the equipment reliably and safely.
- Educational project classes to learn advanced skills in engineering, software, and other topics.
- Access to the Vault community, consisting of more than 100 business experts, software developers, hardware engineers, marketers, accountants, lawyers, and everyone else you’ll likely need as you build your business.
- You also get access to desk space, offices, conference rooms, gigabit Internet access, coffee/snacks, and much more, depending on your membership level, to help you grow your business.
Who is Vault Labs for?
Vault Labs is not a maker space for hobbyists or home projects. It is designed to be used by entrepreneurs, inventors and their teams to build new product ideas. You don’t have to have your business up and running, nor do you have to be an expert. But you do have to intend to commercialize your work someday.
To use the Labs, you must be a member in good standing.
Public classes: We do offer some public classes in the space that do not require membership. For kids in 6th through 12th grade, our DojoPro program offers introductory and advanced classes on select Saturdays. For adults, we’re launching a series of classes soon.
What kind of equipment do you have, and what does it do?
We’re part of a network of prototyping labs around Iowa, so if we can’t build it here, we know who can!
Our facility is focused on early stage hardware prototypes – additive printing of plastic, electronics like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, cellular and radio technology, etc. We also have a team that does software development. If there’s something you need that’s not listed here, let us know and we’ll point you in the right direction.
VR Lab Equipment
|Headset||HTC Vive||Experiencing fully immersive VR worlds|
|Headset||Microsoft HoloLens||Experiencing Augmented Reality environments|
|Viewer||Google Cardboard||Inexpensive holder for phone-based VR|
|Viewer||Vigica Viewer||Inexpensive holder for phone-based VR|
|Location-aware, spacial mapping tablet||Google Project Tango||Experience mixed-reality environments via tablet|
|Workstation||2x custom-built Windows workstations with GTX 1070||Developing and interacting with VR applications|
Prototyping Lab Equipment
|3D Printer||Lulzbot Taz 6 (2x)||Rapidly prototyping engineered parts, for example, plastic casing for a hardware device|
|3D Printer||FlashForge Creator||Rough prototyping of engineered parts|
|3D Printer||Hictop Prusa||Rough prototyping of engineered parts|
|3D Scanner||Matter and Form MFS1V1||Digitally importing handmade prototypes; rescaling existing parts|
|Power Supply||BK Precision 9110||Powering your hardware prototypes (multi-range 100 W within 60V / 5A)|
|Power Supply||BK Precision 1692||Powering your hardware prototypes (variable output 3V to 15V at 40A)|
|Oscilloscope||OWON DS8204||Measure frequency, noise, amplitude of an electrical signal; troubleshooting|
|Signal Generator||FeelTech FY3200S||Generating different waveforms for electronic circuits|
|Pick & Place||CirQoid PCB Router||Automatically routing printed circuit boards (PCBs); picking and placing discrete components on the PCBs.|
|Soldering Iron||3x AOYUE Int 968A+||Primarily thru-hole soldering of discrete components in PCBs|
|Solder Pot||SMTmax ML-52T5||For soldering many thru-hole components on one PCB at a time|
|IC Heater/Reflow Oven||Puhui T-962A||For soldering many surface mount components on one PCB at a time, or rework|
|5-axis CNC machine||TBD – COMING SOON||Subtractive manufacturing: carving shapes from a variety of materials: plastics, metals, etc.|
|Laser Cutter||TBD – COMING SOON||Cutting and engraving various materials|
How much does it cost?
A Vault membership with Labs access starts at $500/year (Vault Community Membership level with Labs add-on). Learn more about Vault & Vault Labs membership levels. Jesse, or other staff members, are available to give you basic training on the equipment at no additional cost.
If you need hands-on engineering or software development help to build your product, our staff time is available on an hourly basis. If you’re an Iowa Startup Accelerator portfolio company, the rate is $58/hour; if you’re not, the rate is $116/hour. Contact Jesse for more information about these services.
Once I’m a member, when can I use the space and equipment?
Vault Resident members with 24-hour building access and the Vault Labs add-on have 24/7/365 access to the space.
Vault Community members with the Vault Labs add-on will have access to the Vault Labs during Open Lab Hours, currently Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 4PM to 9PM. Additional times are expected to be added as the program grows.
A staff member is generally only present during Open Lab Hours unless otherwise arranged.
How do I learn more, or get started?
To learn more, signup for our public tours, and optionally sit down with Jesse for a few minutes to talk about the facility and how we can help grow your business.
If you’re already a Vault member, contact John Foster, Vault Community Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org to upgrade your membership.
Jesse studied Human Computer Interaction in graduate school, can program in in Python and C#, and previously worked for Rockwell Collins and Intermec/Honeywell developing hardware and software products. In his spare time, he writes papers like “Robot Self-Recognition Using Conditional Probability-Based Contingency” (who doesn’t?). He built a virtual combine for John Deere, led the robotics club at ISU, and did his graduate studies at one of the top VR Labs in the country.
He also happens to be an entrepreneur – founding his own AgTech company – and has mentored dozens of other startups through the University of Iowa’s Venture School program.
And now he’s here to help you build your prototype for your business – and think through how to test that prototype in iterations with your customers. If you have a business/product idea that requires rapid prototyping of computer hardware or software, or plastic modelling using 3D printing, come in for a visit. Jesse would love to help you build your business here in Iowa.