3D Printing Industry Case Studies

Print Pod Powers Prototyping and Production At UC Berkeley

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Students learn by doing – and using Type A Machines

Jacobs Hall, Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, College of Engineering, University of California Berkeley

  • Type A Machines Print Pod
  • Type A Machines Series 1 Pro

At the University of California Berkeley, creativity is a hallmark and a longstanding tradition. Berkeley’s brand-new Jacobs Hall, at the College of Engineering’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, carries on that tradition, serving as a showcase for students’ and practitioners’ ingenuity and vision. The four-story, 24,000-square-foot facility is designed with flexible, open space and equipped with state-of-the-art tools for prototyping, iteration, and fabrication – all geared towards encouraging students and practitioners to experiment, collaborate, and create.

When Jacobs Hall opened its doors for the first time in August 2015, hundreds of guests anxious to see the promise of the new facility flocked to the grand opening. Front and center, and proudly displaying its ability to make innovators’ dreams materialize in three dimensions, was the Print Pod – Type A Machines’ multi-unit, industrial-strength 3D printer. “It was the highlight of the event for all our guests,” says Emily Rice, Director of Programs & Operations at the Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation. “We had more than 500 people come, and most of them were gathered around the machine at any given time.”

The Print Pod, suited for heavy-duty, large-scale manufacturing applications, allows up to six users using different materials to print at the same time – or multiple units can be allocated to the same job, significantly speeding throughput. “We’re delighted that UC Berkeley chose the Type A Print Pod as part of their state-of-the-art prototyping and production facility,” says Espen Sivertsen, CEO of Type A Machines. “Given the high volume of student projects, the Type A Print Pod will enable Berkeley students with tools that not only help them prototype, but also fully produce thousands of parts on demand.”

In addition to the Print Pod, Jacobs Hall also features four Series 1 Pro 3D printers, also from Type A Machines, throughout the building. The smaller, single-unit machines, which feature a cubic foot of build volume and work with a variety of different materials, are used for class projects, as well as individual students’ endeavors.

All you need is a vision – not CAD expertise

Since its opening in summer 2015, Jacobs Hall has been housing more than 20 courses, all serving the Jacobs Institute’s mission of interdisciplinary, team-based, and project-centric learning. Creative minds from all disciplines, not just engineers and professional designers, are welcome here; and, since many are far from experts in CAD or machining, it was important that the 3D printers chosen for the facility be easy to use. Type A Machines printers fit the bill beautifully.

“When we were planning the equipment that would go into Jacobs Hall, we wanted to be sure that we were including some of the amazing 3D printers that anyone can learn to use really quickly,” says Rice. “You can take an art student or an English student who knows nothing about engineering, has no traditional fabrication skills, but has an idea they want to prototype – this is a product that can let them do that quickly.”

But it wasn’t just Type A Machines’ ease of use that attracted the Jacobs Hall faculty and staff. In their quest for the perfect printers, they went through an exhaustive process of research and selection. “We have a lot of resources here at the UC campus, and we have a lot of people with a lot of experience with 3D printers; so, one of the first things we did when we were trying to figure out what printers we wanted for the Jacobs Institute, we started to poll that crowd for their input,” explains Joey Gottbrath, Technical Lab Lead for the Jacobs Institute.

“What really rose to the top was Type A – everybody had a lot of great things to say about the versatility of materials that can be printed in it, the design of the print head itself, and the durability of these new machines,” Gottbrath says. Adds Rice: “We started talking to a bunch of different companies, touring different facilities, learning about the different 3D printers available out there, and Type A seemed just to have all the qualities we were looking for in terms of accessibility for our students, and in terms of excellent support from the company. And they’re just beautiful!”

Gorgeous design, functionality, and an eye to the future

Indeed, any device used in a facility dedicated to design innovation should itself be prime example of great design. Once again, Type A Machines seem made to order. “Type A was a fit here at the Jacobs Institute for a number of reasons, but it has a lot to do with the company itself – we really felt that it was a good match for us,” says Gottbrath. “We’re really excited to have something so cool and innovative right here. I’ve seen from some other manufacturers some designs around rack systems and farms that are very practical, but just the innovation involved in the design of this Pod, it was really attractive to us.”

The Jacobs Institute staff were thrilled with the support they received from Type A Machines, as well. “Type A was really flexible, really communicative in the ordering and purchasing process, and a pleasure to work with,” says Rice. “The team at Type A was totally amazing. We kind of put them through the wringer; we begged them to come to our opening event in a building that just had had power installed, and to get their new Pod system up and running. And they did a fabulous job.”

A final Type A feature that cemented the deal was Type A Machines’ forward-looking design and vision. The printers can be upgraded easily, guaranteeing their future relevance and use. “We know what Type A Machines are about, and we know what we have here, but we’re really excited about the future,” explains Gottbrath. “We really love the idea that the products that these guys make, we can always upgrade to new and exciting things. It seems like the type of company that’s really interested in further innovation, and we can’t wait to apply those here.”

To learn more about the Type A Machines Print Pod contact your Type A Machines’ representative.

Topics: Print Pod