IOWA CITY, Iowa — For inventors, bringing their idea from a sketch to a mock-up is crucial.
“It really helps to have something you can hold in your hand,” said the university’s deputy director of economic development, David Conrad. “Just having a computer model is great, but it doesn’t substitute for something you can show other people how it functions.”
That process is being made easier on The 2nd-floor shop at M.C. Ginsberg Advanced Design and Manufacturing, where the public and private sectors are intersecting.
Along with two other machine shops on the UI campus, Conrad said UI ProtoLabs is a partnership that will benefit students, too.
“Some of the students are able to work here at M.C. Ginsberg, and learn product design, actual manufacturability,” Conrad explained. Conrad said 3D printing is an important — and expensive — part of creating prototypes. But if an inventor’s idea is approved with ProtoLabs, the labor costs are covered by the state economic development funding behind the program.
Mark Ginsberg, owner of M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art, said this partnership has also made lifesaving differences for the local medical community, with full-size 3D models of patients’ hearts.
“There’s been some discovery in the pre-gaming models and 3D versions, that they didn’t see in the CT scans.”
Ginsberg said 3D printing technology is progressing at an alarming rate, and hopes programs like ProtoLabs will grow with it.
“Whether you go to the d.school at Stanford or the MIT Fab Lab, everything is cocooned behind academic walls,” Ginsberg told us. “This is the first time in the country, that we’re aware of, that you see these public-private partnerships extend beyond the research and what’s going on behind closed doors on campus.”
If you have an idea you’d like to submit to ProtoLabs, you can visit the official website: http://uiprotolabs.uiowa.edu/