CMU to have first MakerBot Innovation Lab in Midwest

The provost, College of Communication and Fine Arts and College of Education and Human Services will provide funding for a MakerBot Innovation Center on Central Michigan University’s campus.

The lab of 3D printers will be located in Wightman Hall Room 143. If the remodeling does not occur this summer, the process will be delayed until next summer. If the construction is completed this summer, CMU’s MakerBot Innovation Center will be the first at a public university in the Midwest.

“The room that the printers are going in is going to have to be remodeled, so we’re trying to see if we can get on facilities management’s list to have that done in the summer,” said Larry Burditt, chair of the Department of Art and Design.

MakerBot announced they would bring printing labs to businesses and universities in February. In their announcement, it was stated MakerBot Innovation Center will include at least 30 MakerBot 3D printers

The Office of the Provost is contributing $90,000 towards this project, while CCFA and CEHS are splitting the other costs. Both colleges are providing $130,000.

Burditt said 3D printing has many uses, though the art department will primarily use the printers for sculptural work. He said the printers provide many possibilities, such as thinking of ways 3D pieces can be used with traditional techniques.

3D printers can also be used to create jewelry and clothing.

“It’s also hit mainstream fashion, so that’s part of the reason the College of Education and Human Services is interested in it,” Burditt said.

Dale-Elizabeth Pehrrson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, said the MakerBot Innovation Center can be used for both apparel merchandising and design and interior design. She also said it will benefit many education faculty members within the college in addition to the faculty they partner with in the College of Science and Technology.

“It’s really exciting,” Pehrrson said. “It has tremendous applications for the college.”

This new addition to campus also provides potential for community partnerships, Pehrrson said. Because of the new MakerBot lab, she said, people will recognize CMU as a place they can go to work on innovative projects.

“To be known for that is a very good addition to the university,” Pehrrson said.

She said partnering with another college provides new learning opportunities through collaboration. 

Shelly Hinck, interim dean of CCFA, said they had to do a feasibility study to determine what would be needed to make the room in Wightman Hall appropriate and safe for the printers. She also said they have a budget that will determine what goes into the lab.

“MakerBot will work with us to see what would be the appropriate kinds (of equipment) within the budget we currently have and in the way we want to use it,” Hinck said. "I’m certainly thinking about the various opportunities it offers the departments within the college as well as the departments within the College of Education and Human Services. It really is amazing how 3D printing is being used, so we’re excited to be part of that process.”

Pehrrson said there was a long process, which included the two deans meeting together and meeting with faculty and IT staff, generating ideas and presenting to the provost.

“It was very collaborative from a lot of different levels,” Pehrrson said.