Help build a massive Rosie the Riveter sculpture, and learn about 3D printing

On Monday, May 7th, Nova Labs kicked off a two-part event to help print out a 6-foot-tall statue of Rosie the Riveter. Calling all woman makers to come out next Monday, 5/14, to help print a part of Rosie!

You can sign up for a part here:
You’ll need a Google account so they can track who has what part 🙂

If you need help printing, we’ll have printers and helpers on hand Monday, May 14, 2018 from 7-9pm; we’ll also have a rack of printers dedicated to the project at Nova Labs in the Orange Bay.

You can mail in the parts yourself, or leave them in the Rosie Box and we’ll mail a batch in. Please send an email with your part # to – he’ll send you the tracking number when your batch ships.

Sign up here for next Monday:


ed note: As of 5/8/18 at 2:15pm, Paul and the Nova Labs community is at the top of the leaderboard for number of parts printed!

All the Nova Labs parts are being tracked in this Google Doc.

3D Printer Build Group 11 is here!

Build your very own 3D printer at Nova Labs!

The 11th 3D Printer Build Group is launching on December 9th, 2pm, at Nova Labs. On that date we’ll be putting together a kit that anyone can purchase, assemble, and turn into their very own Nova I3 3D printer. If you’ve got time to help assemble, please sign up here:

The 3D Printer Build Group meets every Monday evening from 7-9pm to assemble kits.

Kits will cost $450 for Nova Labs members, $500 otherwise, and may be purchased at any time, but will not be ready for pickup until the 9th. There will probably be kits available for some time after the assembly, but they are sold on a first-come first-serve basis. If you have any questions feel free to email Paul Chase – paenian at gmail dot com – or come to any of the 3d Printer Build Nights, every Monday evening from 7-9pm.

If you’re interested in joining the build group you can email Paul Chase: paenian at the gmail dot com

The printer we’re building is the Nova I3, which is a high-end printer for a mid-range price.
Features include:

  • Genuine E3D hotend, capable of printing high-temperature materials
  • Heated Bed
  • 24v motor and heater supply for high torque and fast heating
  • 200mm cubic build area
  • LCD & SD card for computer-independent printing
  • Available upgrade to dual-extrusion

The frames and 3d printed components are made right at Nova Labs; we’re also looking for volunteers to cut frames and print parts.

Laser Cutting

If you’re trained on the laser I could especially use help cutting – each kit comes from a single sheet of MDF, and takes ~40 minutes to cut. After cutting, the parts are stored in our boxes waiting for the kit assembly. Please contact Paul Chase, paenian at gmail dot com if you can spare some laser babysitting time 🙂

3D Printing

All the parts are printed by volunteers; they’re up on my Github page:

The full_plate.stl is everything needed for a printer, about 12 hour print on a BG machine. The other three plates combine to make the same parts if you have a smaller machine. Parts must be printed in (recommended) PETG or ABS; color is not important. Again, please contact Paul Chase, paenian at gmail dot com if you’d like to print a set or two :-)​

Reston Museum Cardboard Boat Regatta – 8/12/2017

Summer fun for makers – cardboard boat race in Reston!

Cardboard boat hull

The hull of boat #1 is largely complete!

Nova Labs and Maker Faire NoVa will sponsor and staff a boat repair clinic & dry dock at Reston Museum’s Cardboard Boat Regatta. Both Nova Labs and the Faire will enter a boat in the regatta, too!

Cardboard hull pieces

Hull pieces cut on the laser cutter


A cardboard boat race!


Saturday, August 12th from 2-6pm


Boat rental area at Lake Anne Plaza

Join the fun:

Please consider joining our boat build sessions! They’re held evenings and weekend afternoons between now and race day at Nova Labs – look for sessions listed at

Cardboard boat hull being assembled

Boat #1 coming together

You can also help out the day of the race at the Nova Labs dry dock tent. Volunteers will have spare cardboard and duct tape to assist race teams with last minute boat fixes and answer questions about Nova Labs and the Faire. Contact [Jeanne Marshall] if you are able to help (see the email in the Chatter list serv).

 If you’d like to enter your own boat, you’ll find rules and registration at the event website. If you can’t help out in advance, please come to Lake Anne Plaza to cheer on our 2 boat teams!

We look forward to seeing you at a boat build or on race day!

Paper boat prototype

Paper boat prototype

French Marquetry at Nova Labs

French Marquetry Course a first for Nova Labs

Marquetry is the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. [Dave Heller] taught a marquetry course at Nova Labs on April 29 and 30 which was attended by 16 Nova Labs and Washington Woodworkers Guild students. Dave is a professional woodworker with a shop in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dave has been doing marquetry using the French method for about 10 years, and you can see on his website the variety and beauty of his creations.

This course was the first time that Nova Labs and The Washington Woodworkers Guild have held a joint event. Members of both groups share similar interests in sharing expertise and promoting woodworking. The Washington Woodworkers Guild has about 120 members and meets monthly at The Goodwin House in Bailey’s Crossroads, VA, normally on the third Tuesday of the month. The WWG web site provides more details about their goals and programs. WWG meetings are open to the public and anyone interested in woodworking is invited to attend. WWG plans to hold their July 18th meeting at Nova Labs (Meetup link), so this would be a good chance for Nova Labs members to check out a meeting and meet some fellow makers.

Dave, Nova Labs, and the Washington Woodworkers Guild would like to do additional marquetry courses at Nova Labs covering both the same basic marquetry information and possibly more advanced marquetry topics if there is sufficient interest.

How it’s Done

The following photos taken during the class show the overall approach used in French marquetry.


3D Printer Build Group X – Kit Assembly

Ed. note: Key Member [Paul Chase] writes in to talk about the 10th 3D Printer build group at Nova Labs:

This post is a bit dated, sorry! Back in March before NoVa MakerFaire, Nova Labs launched its 10th 3D Printer Build Group, making our mildly customized Prusa I3 printer, the Nova I3. With the launch of this build group, Nova Labs once again has 3D printer kits for sale – $500 for regular folks, but only $450 for Nova Labs associate and key members!

Before selling the kits, though, we must assemble them! For that I called on the Nova Labs community to help distribute the dozens of parts.

If you’re interested in joining the build group you can email Paul Chase: paenian at the gmail dot com, or join us on Monday evening, from 7-9pm – we should have kits for the next few weeks at least:
April 17th:
April 24th:
May 1st:

And now, pictures!

This is what the machines look like once they’re put together:

Finished Nova I3 Printer

Finished Nova I3 Printer

Nova Labs Demonstrates Aircraft Construction Techniques With a “Real Aircraft” Project

Here is one of our group members grinding surface rust off the fuselage ahead of priming.

A member of the project team grinds surface rust off the fuselage ahead of priming.

Nova Labs has launched a group dedicated to building a single engine, 2-seat aircraft, using the same techniques taught in our Metal Shaping and Fastening classes.


The aircraft being built (entirely from plans) is a Smyth Sidewinder, a prize winning side-by-side 2-seater from the 1960s.  This aircraft is constructed of a welded steel tube fuselage skinned with aluminum and formed aluminum spars and ribs for flight surfaces. It is hoped that the aircraft will be completed, test flown, and finally made part of a group of aircraft flown by the very group that built it.

Sidewinder Fuselage undergoing cleanup

Sidewinder fuselage undergoing cleanup

The project is being led by Nova Labs member Samer Najia who also offers classes in aircraft construction methods using metal sheet, flat and angled stock.  His classes cover multiple levels of complexity:

Metal 101: A basic introduction to structures made from metal, including how to size, space and drill holes; and fundamental cutting, bending and forming techniques (including the use of wood dies), clamping and securing, blind/Avex riveting and rivet removal techniques.  This first level class builds a simple rectangular frame to illustrate that a small light structure can be built to hold a very large load with minimal effort.

Metal 102: This session extends what is learned in 101 and scales the metal frame up to illustrate the problems and their solutions with bigger components.  We typically choose a structure whose central form is a large rectangle and build something useful out of it.  In the past, students have built a table and a go kart.

Metal 103: In this class we introduce bucked/hammered/solid rivets and the use of air tools in the fastening process.  This class discusses and works on structures that must be kept flat but are not allowed to bend.  The class project includes is to creating a wing rib and introducing beads, tabs and stiffeners that turn a piece of sheet metal into a load bearing structure with minimal fabrication.  As part of the exercise, we rivet the ribs to a spar to make a small winglet or airfoil using air riveting tools and techniques.

Metals 104: This class introduces the use of hammering techniques to turn flat sheet metal into curved surfaces (concave or convex).  These specific sessions will begin to be offered once certain tools are appropriated for our metal shop (like an English Wheel and several mallets and shot bags).

Completion of these classes is excellent preparation for those who wish to participate in the Nova Labs Flying group. To sign up for these or any other Nova Labs classes, join our Meetup and keep an eye out for the next Metal Shaping and Fastening classes!

NOVARRG (3D-printing group) update

The rock-solid MendelMax 1.5 printer.

The rock-solid MendelMax 1.5 printer.

NOVARRG (Northern Virginia Reprap Group), the 3d-printing group hosted at Nova Labs, has been doing a lot of work recently.   Nova Labs is so much more than 3D-printers, but this is a special update because of the general interest outside the group.

NOVARRG would normally meet the first Saturday of the month at Nova Labs’ Reston location.  In March, though, we’ll gather at the Chantilly Regional Library (Meetup details here). This will be a public demonstration of 3D-printing technologies – basically showing off the various printers constructed and operated by members of the NOVARRG group.  This follows our earlier, extremely successful demonstration at the Reston Regional Library.   Continue reading

Where Makers Gather

Liftoff for the Quadcopter drone flown indoors after our build planning session.

Liftoff for the Quadcopter drone flown indoors after our group build planning session.

Nova Labs is where members collaborate, learn and make things using the resources of our makerspace. However, we’re also available to other groups who share our vision of gaining an education while on a technology romp and making things. We want to serve the greater community in pursuit of our mission and recently new groups have huddled in the Labs around two fantastic themes: drones and robots.
Continue reading