MakerBot to establish European 3D printing Innovation Center

3D printer manufacturing company MakerBot this week announced plans to establish its first European Innovation Center.

The new Center will be established in Italy at the Università Cattaneo (LIUC) in Castellanza, and will be built in collaboration with the university.

Primarily, the centre will aim to teach up-and-coming students in the many uses and revolutionary potential of 3D printing in manufacturing.

“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,” said Alexander Hafner, General Manager with MakerBot Europe.

The MakerBot Innovation Center will consist of 20 MakerBot Replicator 3D printers, including several different variants specialized for the fabrication of different sized objects. Networking this system will be a customised ‘management platform’, able to manage and link the printers, allowing for mass production.

Università Cattaneo is confident that the new center will open up opportunities for its students.

“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… 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, Professor in the School of Industrial Engineering of LIUC.

LIUC plans to hold a grand opening of the MakerBot Innovation Center in June this year.

New center defies downsizing trend

Despite planning this new center, MakerBot has struggled to find market success in recent years following its takeover by Stratasys in 2013.

In recent weeks, news has emerged that the company has been downsizing its workforce due to poor sales. The company has reportedly closed stores, and laid off around 100 workers – roughly 20% of its workforce.

It is theorised that the high price of MakerBot 3D printers are making their products unattractive compared to competitors selling sub-$1000 printers.