MakerBot Hopes to Bring 3D Printing Starter Labs to Schools and Libraries

MakerBot has previously opened several Innovation Centers at colleges in the US, providing the schools with a complete suite of MakerBot products.  The company is now expanding that program with what it calls the MakerBot® Starter Lab, a method for any institution, commercial, educational, or otherwise.  The Starter Lab, like the Innovation Centers, is stocked with all of MakerBot’s products, but at a slightly smaller scale.

makerbot starter labs with makerbot 3D printing products

The company envisions such institutions as K-12 schools, colleges, libraries, and possibly small businesses, adopting the Starter Lab, which includes all of the following MakerBot goods and services, according to the Lab website: “4 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers, 1 MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer, 1 MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer, 1 MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, 10 swappable MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruders, MakerBot Starter Lab Workshop & Q&A session,, Expert installation, MakerCare Protection Plans for all hardware and six-month hardware warranty, Free downloads of MakerBot Desktop, MakerBot Printshop, and MakerBot Mobile, 80 spools of the most popular MakerBot PLA Filament True, Translucent, and specialty colors (include Small, Large and XXL) Cart, Spool Holder, and grease packet for MakerBot Replicator Z18, Racking and build plate tape.”

So far, two colleges have received the Starter Lab, including Union College in Schenectady, New York, which received the package as an alumni donation, and the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill (SUNY Cobleskill), which may have been inspired by SUNY New Paltz’s acquisition of the Innovation Center package, which includes some 30+ machines.  Assistant professor of computer science at Union College, John Rieffel, says that the lab is already being used to create geometric shapes for math and masks of historical figures for history, explaining, “The MakerBot Starter Lab has already helped the college quickly make 3D printing accessible to more students to foster creativity and collaboration.”

Frank Alfano, acting CEO of MakerBot, gave his take on the product suite, saying, “The MakerBot Starter Lab is designed to help educational institutions prepare students to be more college and career ready by providing them with relevant, competitive skills today. For businesses, a MakerBot Starter Lab can provide a competitive advantage as an investment in future technology that fuels new ideas and growth. 3D printing can speed up innovation and iteration, help facilitate Real-Time Prototyping and shorten product design cycles.” He continues, “When computer labs first started going into schools, educators noticed a transformation taking place with students’ enthusiasm and interest in learning. We see that same type of excitement in students, faculty and the community when they have access to MakerBot 3D printing products in schools.”

The smaller-scale MakerBot package may provide a wider array of institutions with the ability to more easily launch a 3D printing program, increasingly necessary as the 3D printing industry expands.  It may also help Stratasys distribute MakerBot products, which, it says, accounted for missed revenue projections last year.