Laser-engraved NYIT sign.


Student Machine Shop is Laser-Focused

August 17, 2017

In the basement of Harry J. Schure Hall, a little cottage industry is taking form. David Fanning, laboratory engineer at NYIT School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and manager of the Student Machine Shop, has been busy engraving products, with the help of James Kelleher, machine shop technician, and NYIT students, for Angel Dough Ventures, a seed fund and startup accelerator for new business ideas and opportunities that are identified, internally developed, and launched as new products.

Initially, the company (which has a relationship with the Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center) approached Fanning about two projects: 3-D printing custom bobbleheads and laser engraving water bottles. After some testing, they found that the 3-D printing didn’t quite work, but the laser engraving on the water bottles did. Angel Dough was pleased with the result and came back to the Machine Shop with another idea.


The Student Machine Shop custom-engraved more than 20,000 fidget spinners for Angel Dough.

The company requested to have fidget spinners laser engraved. “We tested a few different spinner types and then Angel Dough ran a Groupon ad and received 10,000 orders,” said Fanning. The company also promoted the fidget spinners on Zulily. “We were swamped! By the end of the following week we heard that the orders went up to approximately 15,000.”

Fanning and Kelleher quickly got to work. In just two months, they custom-engraved more than 20,000 of the popular toy. During the process, students got hands-on experience and insight into how products are developed, tested, and marketed.

Fanning is currently working on a catalog, which he plans to share with the NYIT community, showcasing the various products that can be laser engraved in the shop. “We would like to let the community know what we can provide,” he said. He and the team, which includes student interns from NYIT as well as local high schools, can engrave just about anything that is made of glass, acrylic, wood, or leather, as well as some plastics and in the near future metal. “We can engrave water bottles, coffee mugs, glassware, keychains, and custom awards. We’ve already done many of these [for various departments],” Fanning said. All proceeds benefit the school’s programs such as summer camps and the ETIC.


The team at the Student Machine Shop can engrave just about anything that is made of glass, acrylic, wood, some plastics or leather.

While Fanning wouldn’t mind picking up more outside clients, right now he’d like to focus on NYIT’s needs. And to help fill more orders, a second machine will be brought in.

If you are interested in having giveaways or awards engraved for your school or department, contact David Fanning.