Science & Engineering

RIT Opens $3 Million Prototyping Lab for Manufacturing

High tech manufacturing has a new $3 million home at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The New York institution has just opened a new lab to help people and companies prototype their ideas. The new "Digital Manufacturing and Product Realization Lab" will accommodate design and simulation as well as prototype fabrication and product inspection, testing and validation.

Equipment in the 3,300-square-foot space will include three machine tools and four computer-aided design workstations, 3D printers for plastic and metal and a laser that can fuse powdered metals into three-dimensional structures. Metal printing and electronic benches will allow users to make custom circuit boards and other specialized parts.

Additional heavy fabrication equipment is next door in a building that houses the institute's Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies.

Personnel from companies that contract with the lab for prototyping work will have access to design and simulation software applications and tools for component inspection and assembly. However, experienced engineers on staff will operate the fabrication equipment in the lab. Students will work in the center as paid "co-op engineers." It's expected that the lab will be able to handle up to five projects simultaneously.

"This highly sophisticated lab will enable manufacturers to streamline their development process, promote U.S.-based supply chains and help boost the growth of manufacturing both regionally and nationally," said Nabil Nasr, associate provost and director of the lab. "Our facility will also serve as a focal point for New York state manufacturers seeking to evaluate and apply new digital manufacturing technologies."

Added New York State Senator Joseph Robach, "The Rochester region has quickly become a leader in manufacturing, innovation and technology thanks in large part to the resources, students and faculty at RIT. The [lab] is the latest example of leveraging the resources that already exist at RIT with manufacturers that are seeking to improve their business and products. This is a win-win for the Rochester region that will lead to increased job development and innovation for our economy."

The lab is located within the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, an academic unit that offers multidisciplinary education and research in sustainability —  sustainable production, energy, mobility and IT.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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