Why A 3D Printing Lab In A Business School? To Turn Entrepreneurs Into Designers

A few weeks ago I gave the below presentation on “Why A 3D Printing Lab In A Business School?”

I have been asked this question a lot lately.

We completed the installation on the new MakerBot Innovation Center in the brand new School of Business at Montclair State University earlier this year.

Typically you put a 3D Printing lab in an engineering school. However, Montclair State University does not have an engineering school and this is a story about entrepreneurship.

Let me give you a brief background.

In the fall of 2014 we saw a weakness in our Entrepreneurship program at the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at MSU. Our students Minimum Viable Projects (MVP’s) were not as far along as they could be. Seed money used on vendors or engineers was taking most of the semester to get to a deliverable.

In the spring of 2015 we introduced one 3D Printer. A team took full advantage of it. Having their CAD prototype converted into STL files. The problem was it required 17 STL files and the largest piece was significantly larger than the print volume of the MakerBot 5th Generation at our disposal. Printing 17 pieces also created a log jam at the printer as time went on. They ended up having their final design printed at a service bureau. The results were excellent.

What If We Turn All Our Entrepreneurs Into Designers?

If we can turn all the entrepreneurs moving through the entrepreneurship program into designers, we can eliminate the reliance on engineers and vendors for our MVP’s.

Rapid prototyping will enable our students to create a constant feedback loop in their customer development as they work their Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas depending on which course they are in.

Instead of one iteration of their MVP, as designers, they can create new MVP’s every few days based upon their customer interviews and the feedback they receive on their designs, in real time.

3DPrinting and rapid prototyping make all of this possible. Having 35 networked 3D Printers available eliminates the log jams. 17 parts can be printed in a night, by two teams.

A 3D Printing Lab in the Business School is just the beginning.

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