Additive Manufacturing Adds Up

Published: Saturday, 19 July 2014 14:02
Written by Don Musilli

Now that 3D Printing has started to move into replacing traditional reductive CNC fabrication process the ability to change tthe economic landscape in towns and cities not originally part of the manufacturing centers in the U.S. can keep their small town feel but have a high tech economy. No smoke stacks, no large, ugly metal buildings and no dirty work environments. The use of additive manufactuing allows someone to produce a wide variety of products from many materials in a building that doesn't have to be in an industrial park.

EIC has been working for almost 9 months to generate interest in using 3D Printing ( additive manufacturing) with the local school systems in both Sarasota and Charlotte counties. We acquired our first 3D Printer from MakerBot. This is their new Replicator Fifth Generation unit that prints in PLA only but has a lot of features that make it very easy to use, even for the novice. That unit was followed by a MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental unit that has two print heads and prints in ABS.

We recenlty ordered a new unit from Alpha Objects called the LulzBot TAZ4. This has one print head with the option to add a second print head. It also prints in PLA, ABS, HIPS, Nylon, Ninja Flex, Wood and Ceramic. It has a larger build platform than the MakerBot units so it will allow us to build some larger prototypes and designs.

EIC has exerted its influence to a number of schools in the greater Englewood area and as a result there are now 14 3D Printers in place in a 10 mile radius from EIC. Even the elementary school in Englewood has jumped on the bandwagon. And why not. 3D Printers are the perfect tool to take that creative idea generated by that young mind, put it on a computer screen which is a comfortable technology even for 5 year olds, and then send the creation to the printer and viola! They  can now hold their idea in their hand.

With faster printers coming on the market that can print in resolutions as fine as 20 microns ( ours print at 100 microns) the ability to not only quickly design and build a prototype but actually make viable, saleable products. To that end EIC is now using the High School STEM engineering students to design one-of-a-kind promotional items for a number of local businesses that generate revenue and at the same time connect the students skill sets to the real commercial world.

It is our belief that additive manufacturing will grow exponentially over the next 10 years with major shifts in manufacturing techniques taking place in 2015. 

For more information on EIC and our business incubator programs go to our website at: