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3D Maryland Opens in Columbia

'We are now on the leading edge of what many are calling the next industrial revolution.' —Howard County Executive Ken Ulman

Elected officials, business leaders and representatives from universities and federal agencies were on hand Thursday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 17, 2014. (Credit: Howard County Economic Development Authority)
Elected officials, business leaders and representatives from universities and federal agencies were on hand Thursday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 17, 2014. (Credit: Howard County Economic Development Authority)
What you imagine can become a reality, at Columbia's newest tech venture.

3D Maryland, an initiative of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, officially opened this week, according to a statement from the county.

Located on Bendix Road in Columbia, 3D Maryland's "Innovation + Prototyping Lab" features work stations, special software and four 3D printers for prototyping.

"If we can imagine it and we've got the skill to design it, the 3-D printers will print it," Jan Baum, executive director of 3D Maryland, said in a recent explanation of the technology. "We can make things we could have never made before."

The Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland and Towson University are among those supporting the venture, in addition to the Howard County Economic Development Authority. The goal is to educate businesses and train the work force in technology that looks to be the new face of manufacturing, according to Technically Baltimore.

Black and Decker, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and Northrop Grumman are some of the companies that have begun using the center's 3-D printing.

"The initiative is already generating innovative new ideas and reducing the cost and time needed to produce new prototypes in fields from medicine to manufacturing," Lawrence F. Twele, chief executive officer of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, said.

How it works: The user comes up with a design and sends it to the printer as a file. The printer builds a model of the design in layers using materials like rubber, plastic, metal or paper, according to Mashable.

"We are now on the leading edge of what many are calling the next industrial revolution," Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said. "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.”

The new lab will enable 3D Maryland to offer workshops and customized training plus make the technology available to individuals and groups, Howard County officials said. According to WBAL, public workshops will begin this summer.

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