New technologies gain traction at notable university libraries

MakerBot center brings 3D printing to UMass Amherst Du Bois Library; connects students, community with 3D printing.

3D-labLibraries throughout the U.S. are implementing new technologies to adapt to the changing habits of the digital age by adding additional services such as wireless internet, e-readers, and tablets.

Technology is also driving a different trend that is redefining the very role that libraries play. By offering access to 3D printing, libraries nationwide are turning into labs of experimentation and innovation for aspiring entrepreneurs, and to help advance creativity for everyone.

To date, MakerBot® 3D Printers and Scanners are in an estimated 500 libraries across the U.S.

UMass Amherst is embracing this concept in an unprecedented way by teaming up with MakerBot to deploy a large-scale 3D printing MakerBot Innovation Center in New England and the first ever at a university library.

The MakerBot Innovation Center at UMass Amherst is located in the Digital Media Lab at the iconic Du Bois Library, which is focused on facilitating project-based learning and innovation on campus and providing this access to the surrounding community.

(Next page: A list of resources available to students inside the innovation center)

How it benefits the university and promotes cross-collaboration

A MakerBot Innovation Center is a large-scale installation (more than 30) of MakerBot Replicator® 3D Printers and supporting devices that empower organizations and educational institutions to innovate faster, increase collaboration and compete more effectively.

At UMass Amherst, the MakerBot Innovation Center brings 3D printing technology to faculty, researchers and thousands of students —from business majors for entrepreneurial pursuits, to architects for creating models, to engineering and science students for developing concepts and tools.

“The MakerBot Innovation Center ties in firmly with the campus’s personality of being entrepreneurial and community engaged and will allow us to work more closely with the local business community,” said Jay Schafer, director of libraries at UMass Amherst. “Having a large-scale installation of MakerBot 3D Printers makes this resource more broadly available on campus and puts UMass Amherst at the forefront of technological innovation. The MakerBot Innovation Center will help bridge the gap between the digital and the physical realm, so students can turn designs into 3D physical objects and prototypes.”

Schafer also noted that the MakerBot Innovation Center is designed to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. A group of faculty from environmental conservation, building and construction technology, biology, public health, public policy and engineering already has plans to offer a makerspace class that will use the MakerBot Innovation Center as a resource for projects centered on remote sensing, environmental monitoring and building control systems.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of UMass Amherst’s unique Digital Media Lab that emphasizes technology and project-based learning,” said Mark Schulze, UMass graduate and MakerBot general manager of the Americas and Emerging Markets. “UMass Amherst realizes that the jobs of tomorrow will require strong technology and collaboration skills. To prepare students for these jobs, the MakerBot Innovation Center will help to cultivate entrepreneurialism, education and innovation in Massachusetts and far beyond.”

The MakerBot Innovation Center at UMass Amherst is a custom, centralized and scalable 3D printing solution that has been developed to meet the specific needs of the university. With the MakerBot Innovation Center, students, faculty and the community are provided with opportunities to collaborate on Real-Time Prototyping™ projects, 3D model making and small-scale creative and manufacturing projects.

How it benefits the community

UMass Amherst will also be able to forge public-private partnerships with industry leaders to create what the university says is a “vibrant innovation hub” that serves both students and the local business community “in unprecedented ways.”

Concrete plans to realize this vision at UMass Amherst include an entrepreneur-in-residence program, mini-courses and workshops geared toward practicing professionals, elevator pitch and business plan competitions, incubator spaces and coaching support for new-venture start-ups and support for small business development.

To help the university in developing its program, the MakerBot Innovation Center at UMass Amherst has been built in conjunction with consulting from MakerBot; training for university staff is being provided by the MakerBot Learning staff of highly trained 3D printing experts.

Critical components

Specifically, the Innovation Center includes:

  • 50 MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers (35 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers, five MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printers, five MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental Desktop 3D Printers and five MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printers)
  • A large supply of MakerBot PLA Filament
  • Several MakerBot Digitizer™ Desktop 3D Scanners
  • MakerBot MakerCare® protection plans

At the core of the Innovation Center is the Management Platform, a proprietary and innovative 3D printing software platform that links all of the MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers together, provides remote access, print queuing and mass production of 3D prints, and is designed to streamline productivity and staffing of the center.

The scalable design of the MakerBot Innovation Center allows UMass Amherst the option to easily add additional MakerBot 3D printing technology in the future, noted the University.

For more information on the MakerBot Innovation Centers, email innovation@makerbot.com, visit makerbot.com/innovation-center or call toll-free 855-347-4780.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione