IMFLabs — originally called "The Instrumentation & Model Facility (IMF)" —  was established by Dr. Norman Alpert in 1969. As chairman of the University of Vermont (UVM) Department of Physiology, he recognized an acute need for custom instrumentation to complete his research studies.

UVM already had several small shops on campus in engineering and life sciences, but it was Dr. Alpert's vision to create a centralized, comprehensive instrumentation design and fabrication facility on campus to serve all research units. He recruited George Luhr, an instrument maker he had worked with in the Chicago area, to come to Vermont to lead the facility. A grant was procured to provide a complete machine shop, electronic instrumentation for design and fabrication, and other related resources.

The facility was originally located in the UVM Royal Tyler Annex and moved to its current location at 280 East Avenue in 1980.

In 1995, IMFLabs purchased a CAD system, SOLIDWORKS, to be able to design in 3D and move design work into the digital realm. Four years later, new computerized milling machines were purchased. In 2001, a computer-aided manufacturing software package, CAMworks, was purchased, which provided a direct interface from the CAD software to the computerized milling machines. Thus, a part or device designed on CAD could be automatically produced by the mill. In 2007, due to the increased need for volume parts and instruments to serve start-up companies and small technology firms in Vermont, IMFLabs purchased a Hurco VM1 machining center — a system with automatic tool-changing capability that enables small production runs to be accomplished efficiently.

In addition to electronics engineering, expertise in microcontrollers, computer programming, wireless sensors, and advanced instrument design was added in 2007. An Objet Geometrics Polyject 3D printing system was added in 2009 for concept and physical modeling as well as instrument/parts fabrication.