We feel certain DaVinci probably had sketches of a 3D printer lying around somewhere. If not, surely he’d heartily approve of Italian students being versed en masse in a new process that could lead to numerous new inventions at the Università Cattaneo, where an agreement has just been forged with MakerBot for the first MakerBot Innovation Center in the city famous for one major ‘rebirth’ already via the Renaissance.
The university is housed in a restored nineteenth century cotton mill, in a provincial area of Northern Italy, near Milan. An independent university, it has been thriving as a learning institution ever since the Industrial Association of the Province of Varese (UNIVA) became involved in 1991, with the purpose of ‘providing innovative higher education with a strong regional focus.’
Students at Università Cattaneo will be the recipients of a high-tech new 3D printing lab featuring:
- Three MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D printers
- Twelve MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printers
- Five MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D printers
All 20 MakerBot 3D printers center around the crux of the Innovation Center, which is the MakerBot Innovation Center Management Platform. The software links all the printers, allowing for access remotely, as well as managing print queuing and handling mass production of the student’s 3D prints.
“We are excited about bringing the first MakerBot Innovation Center to Europe”, said Alexander Hafner, General Manager with MakerBot Europe. “The opening of the MakerBot Innovation Center will represent a great chance to empower students, faculty and professionals to innovate, keep pace with developments and will prepare students for the business challenges of tomorrow.”
We’ve reported on numerous Innovation Centers opening at learning institutions in the U.S., and one thing always surrounds the process: enthusiasm, abounding from both faculty and students. No longer are 3D printing projects relegated to trying something out on one stray printer housed in a professor’s office or library, but they are able to gear curriculums and complex projects around digital design and the new 3D printing equipment.
“From next year our Engineering students will have the chance to challenge their skills in designing and manufacturing prototypes in the context of simulated startups. The MakerBot Innovation Center will allow us to continue and develop the activities carried out by SmartUp, giving our students a concrete opportunity of hands-on experience with the next technologies of digital manufacturing, which are increasingly part of the everyday life of enterprises,” said Prof Luca Mari, Director of SmartUp – Digital Manufacturing Laboratory and Professor in the School of Industrial Engineering of LIUC.
The Center is being carried out with assistance from researchers from SmartUp, which is a project focused toward bringing ‘digital manufacturing’ to the individuals of Italy—created by both LIUC and the Unione degli Industriali della Provincia di Varese.
There will be a big affair to celebrate the opening of Italy’s first MakerBot Innovation Center in June, as everyone involved from partners to students and faculty as well as everyone’s families will be invited to attend, sharing the excitement as the horizon looms bright for years of design innovation from students.
“This project,” noted Samuele Astuti and Mauro Mezzenzana, Innovation Center Team Leaders, “is aimed at supporting companies that are moving toward product and process innovation in order to get new market opportunities in a highly competitive environment.”
A wonderful byproduct, as we’ve reported on from other campuses with MakerBot Innovation Centers like UMass Amherst, is that they offer not only opportunities to the students but also local businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as students from other local schools. In line with the concept of the sharing community, generally no one can get enough of this good thing—and all the good ‘things’ 3D printing is capable of producing—so it offers a lot of integration and community connection.
Tell us what you think about the first MakerBot Innovation Center in Italy in the MakerBot Innovation Center forum over at 3DPB.com.