MakerBot has seen its fair share of ups and down this year, with massive layoffs occurring as the company tries to reorganize with new CEO Jonathan Jaglom at the helm. At the same time, the company has continued to innovate within the desktop 3D printing space, as well as expand its presence throughout the world. Much of this expansion can be attributed to the recent launching of several MakerBot Innovation Centers around the United States.
Up to this point, we have seen MakerBot Innovation Centers launched at the State University of New York, The University of Maryland, Florida Polytechnic University, and the University of Cincinnati, among others. Today comes news that the first MakerBot Innovation Center has opened across the pond in Europe, at LIUC – Università Cattaneo in Castellanza, Italy.
For those of you unfamiliar with these innovation centers, they basically consist of a group of numerous MakerBot 3D printers which have been networked together for use within universities and schools. They are designed to empower students, faculty, and others living in close proximity to the center.
The new MakerBot Innovation Center at LIUC will include 20 MakerBot Replicator 3D printers which will be open to use for students, entrepreneurs, professionals and technicians. The innovation center has, at its core, a special management platform which is a proprietary software system linking all of the 3D printers together, providing for fast remote access, sophisticated print queuing and the mass production of 3D prints, utilizing all or several of the printers at once.
“The opening of the MakerBot Innovation Center is an important step in LIUC’s efforts in the field of digital fabrication,” Michele Graglia, President of LIUC explained. “It comes on the heels of the SmartUp project, developed in collaboration with Unione degli Industriali della Provincia di Varese, and the project “Digital Do It Yourself”, which has obtained a loan of EUR 2 million in connection to the ”Horizon 2020” program. We are convinced that this initiative will accelerate innovation in various fields and disciplines at LIUC. Our first initiatives aimed at educating businesses about 3D printing are a concrete example of the potential for public-private partnerships and collaboration, ranging from engineers to entrepreneurs.”
On hand to celebrate the inauguration of this very first European MakerBot Innovation Center was Andreas Langfeld, GM of MakerBot Europe. The center will be run by SmartUp – Manufacture Digital Laboratory, which is a project responsible for spreading the culture of digital fabrication. SmartUp was created by LIUC as well as Unione deli Industriali della Provincia di Varese.
“We’re excited to partner with LIUC to open the first MakerBot Innovation Center in Europe. 3D printing is transforming the way we think, design, invent and manufacture,” said MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom. “The MakerBot Innovation Center allows LIUC to make this powerful technology available to more students across campus and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. We believe that the MakerBot Innovation Center will give LIUC students a competitive advantage by creating an environment in which entrepreneurialism, education and innovation is cultivated and encouraged.”
Professor Luca Mari will become the director of the MakerBot Innovation Center at LIUC, and one of the first courses offered at the center will take place on June 24-25. It is entitled “Practical course on 3D printing”, and it will be followed by an additional course on July 15-16, called “Practical course on prototyping with 3D printing”. Participants will design and 3D print objects from a catalog of models, to get an idea of the capabilities provided through the technology.
“With the MakerBot Innovation Center, LIUC is equipped with state of the art infrastructure for training in the field of digital manufacturing and prototyping,” explained Rector, Valter Lazzari. “We added a Laboratory of Creativity, Innovation and Design to the curriculum of engineering in which students can work with 3D printers directly to acquire skills essential to successfully enter todays’ workforce. This is another opportunity for students of degree courses in Economics and Law and is adding to the numerous experiential activities already offered. So it is in line with the idea of a university open to the most innovative forms of knowledge and skills that is characteristic for LIUC.”
It will certainly be interesting to follow the progress made by this latest MakerBot Innovation Center. If successful, like expected, we could see several new innovation centers opening up all over Europe in the coming months.