Howard County's Economic Development Authority on Thursday unveiled its newest workspace, a prototyping lab devoted to 3D printing and rapid technology.
The Innovation + Prototyping Lab, located at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship's Columbia headquarters on Bendix Road, is an 1800-square-foot space stocked with four 3D printers, computers offering software tutorials and shelves of printed parts.
3D Maryland, the HCEDA initiative that is coordinating 3D printing projects in the county, plans to use the new space to offer workshops, seminars, classes and personalized training for businesses and individuals interested in learning more.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said the lab put Howard County "on the leading edge of what many are caling the next industrial revolution.
"3D Maryland, and this new facility, allow us to take another leap forward to drive innovation, enhance manufacturing, and keep and add jobs right here by using these cutting-edge technologies," he said.
Jan Baum, the executive director of 3D Maryland, said the lab's goal was to get more entrepreneurs versed in the possibilities of 3D printing, and to facilitate interaction between businesses who are already using the technology and those that are interested in getting started.
"We really want to be able to showcase and make available the tools and how Maryland companies are using them," she said.
The lab's opening showcased displays from some of the companies and organizations already involved in 3D Maryland's professional user group, including Northrup Grumman, Black + Decker and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.
Erik Guzman, the lab and program manager for 3D Maryland, said the possibilities of 3D printing ran the gamut from tchotchkes to life-saving devices, such as customized parts to fit into a patient's body.
He hoped the lab would see a wide variety of visitors, from local businesses to teachers.
"We really want to try to get as many different types of people in here as possible," he said.
3D printing, he said, is "already on its way.
"If you're looking at your feet while it's happening, you're going to raise your eyes and see you're really missing out," he said.