Personal Use Policy


Laboratory, shop, computer and other facilities have been created primarily to further the educational mission of the College.

Personal projects are permitted (and strongly encouraged!) though they are given lowest priority in terms of resource use and must not be deemed wasteful by the Shop staff. Note that personal projects that are being made to be sold are not allowed. 

Please be honest if questioned by the Shop staff as to the purpose of your project and/or just pass your idea by the Shop staff so that they can help you and also properly manage resources.

Olin Related Work

All of our fabrication resources are for  "non-commercial use". This means that you are encouraged to use the shop and its associated resources for course work (SCOPE, ADE, PoE, etc), research or any activity associated with Olin.

Fundraising for any Olin teams or clubs falls in this category (even though the projects are being sold). Stock is available for use, but please purchase from the course or research budget first. Anything in excess of a preliminary, reasonable prototype, you should be providing your own materials from the course budget. 

Personal Use

Personal use is defined as using the shop to make items (purchased by yourself) in a manner that has no potential monetary gain. Personal use projects cannot be related to any business, non-profit, or other organizations of any kind.

Examples of personal use include using a graphic to create t-shirts for a family reunion, using a laser cutter to make a birthday card that you send in celebration of a friend's special day, using the woodshop to make a piece of wall art that you create for family member as a gift (no money changes hands), etc. Use of facilities for personal projects is encouraged, but such use is of lower priority than college work and must never interfere with use of facilities for college related work. 

Scrap material may be used for constructing personal, but because scrap materials are also useful for college work, new materials should be purchased as soon as possible to compensate for the loss of scrap if large quantities are being used. When in doubt as to whether something is scrap, ask the Shop staff. 

External or Commercial Work

We define External or Commercial Work to be any work done that is not for personal use or Olin related work. Synonymous terms include Contracted Work and Client Work or Commercial Use. Commercial use means the use of college spaces and resources for profit or potential profit, including research or work orders by public or private entities. 

Shop resources are not to be used for commercial purposes or for personal financial or other gain. Olin College may authorize the use of its space and facilities for appropriate commercial purposes after consultation with the Director of Lab and Fabrication Operations, the Provost and/or the Dean of Students.

Definition of Commercial Use

Creative Commons provides broad guidance on the definition of commercial use; summarised as: A commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation. To clarify this, we’ve established the following principles. It is unambiguously non-commercial use when anyone: when you use the Olin Shop, with no intention to gain commercial advantage or monetary compensation.

It’s non-commercial use if…

1. if I make something myself? Yes, as long as you don't sell the resulting product or base a commercial service directly on it.

2. if I get paid for external entity while enrolled at Olin and need to use the Shop for my work? No, we would consider this commercial work. Olin College covers the operational costs of the Shop and usage of the Shop is meant for Olin College. We are not setup to charge for machine time. This includes our Shop staff doing the work for you on their own spar time at the Olin Shop.

3. if I am an alum and would like the Olin Shop to make something for  myself or my company? No, we would consider this commercial work even if this is for you personally. This includes our Shop staff doing the work for you on their own spar time at the Olin Shop.