Montclair State University opened the doors of its new 3D printing lab this week, promising that “3D printing changes everything,” the motto of the new facility.
The Making and Innovating for X (MIX) Lab, which contains 35 3D printers, is located in the Feliciano School of Business and saw its grand opening on Thursday, Feb. 18.
The events for the opening day of this new facility included a tour of the lab and an inaugural panel discussion, entitled “3D Printing Changes Everything,” which was moderated by Iain Kerr, the co-director of the MIX Lab.
Michael Rees, director of the Center for New Art at William Paterson University; Ben Reytblat, founder, CEO and engineer of 3DMonstr; Natalie Rodriguez, a Montclair State students and Mix Lab design entrepreneur and Mina Zarfsaz, designer and conceptual artist, were among the panelists who discussed how 3D printing is changing the industries of medicine, fashion, food, architecture and other fields.
Before the events started, however, students, faculty and visitors from outside the university community gathered in anticipation of getting a first look at the groundbreaking technology form. A small crowd formed outside of the lab, and the hallway was buzzing with loud chatter and excitement leading up to the tour.
A man wearing a classic fit wool-blend coat told the person across from him, “People are fascinated by this stuff. They light up every time.”
The lab was also decorated for the occasion with balloons and yellow signs that said “welcome” in capital letters outside the new facility. There was a “3D Printing Changes Everything” poster on the door as well, along with a “Please Knock” sign in bold font.
Jason Frasca, co-director of the MIX Lab, said during the tour of the lab, “We are the ninth innovation center in the world that has these printing capabilities.”
He went on to say, “The genesis of the program is through the entrepreneurship program, and it creates opportunities for students.”
Students, however, are not the ones actually doing the printing. “As administrators, we review the print request and then [send] them on to the printers,” said Frasca. He later explained that the printers use data from USB flash drives rather than Wi-Fi to print.
Before embarking on her tour, Alexandra Sehchoenberg, a member of the Montclair Entrepreneurs Meetup group, a networking organizaiton for entrepreneurs connected with the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, said, “I haven’t been in [the lab] yet, but I am excited. It’s the future. The future is here.” Right before she went in, she exclaimed, “Let’s see what the brouhaha is about.”
Montclair State accounting student Michael Coviello sat outside the printing lab waiting for his sister to get out of class. He soon got up to see what the commotion was about. After following the instructions of the ‘Please Knock’ sign, Coviello entered the packed room. There were printers to the right side of the room and a huge table in the center. He stared in confusion as the printer said “85 percent,” but quickly realized that it meant that the print job was almost done.
After walking around the lab, Coviello couldn’t help but share his excitement. “This is some cool stuff,” he said. “I guess it really is all here.”
Andrew Zhang and Mukesh Patel, visitors from Rutgers University, also came for a first look at the lab. “3D printing will take over the world. RU has something like this, but it is not of this magnitude. I am a huge supporter of this,” Zhang said.
“I like 3D printing because it feeds off imagination. I can see it going from 3D printing to 4D printing and even 5D printing. 3D printing is right there with genetic coding and human genomes,” said Patel as he held on to a cup that he recently printed in the Lab.
Frasca encouraged students to get involved by taking 3D printing and design classes, joining the 3D printing club or going to the lab between 9 a.m. and noon Monday through Thursday.