Fab lab opens in Trail

A golden opportunity is available for locals with techie vision but a lack of means to make the idea a reality.


Doors have opened to a gold mine of opportunity for locals with techie vision but a lack of means to make that idea a reality.

MIDAS (Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration Studies) is a multi-million-dollar project that opened to the public with a tour of the Glenmerry space on Wednesday sessions to use its advanced equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters, are now available.

Known as a “Fab Lab” the Trail facility provides entrepreneurs, students, start-ups and local businesses the hands on chance to work with innovative materials, a base to test out original products, and the means to bring those unique ideas and products back to the market.

A large crowd of groups from across B.C. gathered for the official ribbon cutting, or in this case, clipping of a golden chain but there was one community member and local business person on hand who shed light on what MIDAS brings to creative young minds as well as the business community as a whole.

Mary Austin wears two hats when it comes to MIDAS one as a key supporter of a local tech club for youth, the other, as director of business development for Austin Engineering, based in downtown Trail.

“We are lucky to be part of MIDAS in two different ways,” she began. “We are members of the Lower Columbia Tech Club, which is a great way for hobbyists and people at introductory levels of technological awareness to be able to get at MIDAS and experience all different types of high level technology.”

The second way Mary’s involved is through her work MIDAS provides necessary tools the company requires to be part of the competitive engineering world.

“We have a research space in the back of the building,” she explained. “Right here in Trail, we are able to take the engineering work we do here and throughout British Columbia, and be competitive with national level firms.”

For example, highly technical designs can be swiftly modified using MIDAS technologies.

“We can take 3D printed models of dams we designed for a client, such as the City of Cranbrook and the Idlewild Dam (Idlewild Dam Rehabilitation Project),” she said. “And we are able to present multiple options very quickly, cost effectively, and save our client’s money.

“We can compete with national companies and we get really good responses.”

Though MIDAS is available to both beginner and experienced individuals with either a drop-in fee or monthly membership, users must be 16 years or older.

Additionally, before users are allowed to handle the equipment, competency courses are required. Sessions are between one to three hours, but do not include how to complete unique projects.

The goal of MIDAS courses is to help familiarize the user with the “Fab Lab” and provide the appropriate training to get the most out of the facility and its equipment based on specific needs and requirements.

Other workshops and project courses, usually three to six hours, can provide competency certification for those seeking to create or learn advanced skills with one or more pieces of equipment.

Spearheaded by KAST (Kootenay Association for Science and Technology), there are two main parts to the MIDAS laboratory.

The first is a “digital fabrication laboratory,” (Fab Lab) intended for rapid prototyping and training in additive manufacturing, which is a method of building 3-D objects by adding layer upon layer of material, such as plastic, metal or concrete.

Users will be able to quickly create a model of an item like a mechanical part, for example, using 3D computer-aided design and 3-D printer.

There are also areas focused on electronics, circuit construction, CNC machines, molding, casting, metalwork and woodwork.

Another local research partnership where MIDAS is key, will soon be underway. This one involves the giant on the hill.

Through a $293,000 research partnership and multi-partnered project initiated by KAST, the MIDAS lab will be used by UBCO (University of British Columbia Okanagan) academia to find ways of repurposing smelting byproducts from Teck Trail Operations.

The three-year project challenges university researchers to find ways to sustainably extract and purify metals from lead-zinc smelting byproducts that can then be used by secondary industries in the Kootenays.

“There’s many complex levels to the partnership,” says MIDAS Project Director Amber Hayes. “But that’s part of what makes the project so exciting to play on the assets the Trail community and our local region already has, and to be able to add value through applied research.”

For more information visit midaslab.ca or visit the site at 2950 Highway Drive in Trail.


Just Posted

More Kootenay-Columbia students for a third straight year

Enrolment across School District 20 is up 175 students since 2016

Stolen vintage motorcyle returned undamaged in Nakusp

The thieves were unable to start the antique racer and abandoned it in a vacant Nakusp garage

Trail Smoke Eaters grind out win over Vernon Vipers

Trail Smoke Eaters Kent Johnson scored the game winner in a 3-2 victory over the Vernon Vipers

Tea, crafts, music and dance this weekend in Greater Trail

Grapevine: Events in the Trail area for the week of Nov. 15 to Nov. 21

Car accident prompts advisory from Greater Trail RCMP

Extrication by regional firefighters; driver and passenger walked away with minor injuries

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

WikiLeaks chief could see charges, US court filing suggests

Charges against Julian Assange could help illuminate the question of whether Russia co-ordinated with the Trump campaign

Federal MPs denounce controversial Facebook post targeting Sajjan

Okanagan Conservatives apologize for controversial Facebook post

Canada has enough pipelines to get the moon

Pipelines totalling 840,000 kilometres run across Canada

Migrants streaming into Tijuana, but now face long stay

U.S. border inspectors are processing about 100 asylum claims a day at the main border crossing with San Diego

One month after legalization, illicit cannabis shops doing brisk business

When asked what has changed since Canada legalized on Oct. 17, one staffer said: “We’re just busier.”

Hunter who saved B.C. man pinned inside smashed truck says ‘God was sending me to him’

Sayward man describes chance discovery of Duncan Moffat, 23, in northern Vancouver Island woods

Road-weary Canucks thumped 6-2 by Wild

Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

Most Read