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Howard County 3D Printing Initiative Takes Shape

December 06, 2013

Columbia, MD - Howard County Executive Ken Ulman today launched the county’s newest economic development venture – called 3D Maryland – by leading a group of business leaders, educators, elected officials and entrepreneurs on a business tour to showcase the opportunities presented by 3D Printing.

“We are at the dawn of a new age of manufacturing,” Ulman said. “Some are calling 3D printing the next industrial revolution and I want Howard County to be on the cutting edge. We are going to showcase the benefits of this technology, and reduce the cost and time required to develop prototypes. We believe our initiative will transform existing companies and lead to the development of new start-ups.”

3D Maryland, an initiative of the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), will operate out of the HCEDA’s Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE). It will feature a prototype lab at the MCE that will be open to entrepreneurs and business owners who can use the technology to take their ideas from the drawing board to conception.

The Howard County program will be led by Jan Baum, an expert in the field of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. Baum is a leader in bringing 3D printing and rapid technology to the greater Baltimore region. She is the founder and Director of Object Lab, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art rapid technologies and digital fabrication lab at Towson University.

“The ability to attract someone with the knowledge base and relationships that Jan has in the field of additive manufacturing is a tremendous asset for us,” said HCEDA Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Twele. “She was able to hit the ground running and has already identified an ecosystem of early adopters, from federal labs and business owners, to educators and entrepreneurs, creating a professional user group. This group will result in the kind of synergy and engagement that produces new companies and greater competiveness for existing businesses.”

MCE Executive Director Julie Lenzer Kirk says the lab will open by early spring 2014.

“Not only will business owners and entrepreneurs have the ability to develop their prototypes here, the lab will also be a place where we can provide hands on experience for innovators who want to learn more about the technology,” said Kirk.

The tour was held at UAV Solutions Inc., a Jessup firm which has already embraced digital manufacturing technology. The firm manufactures unmanned aircraft and many of the parts are produced at its Howard County facility. UAV Solutions was launched in 2006 by Billie Ann and Bill Davidson and employs more than 50 people.

“We wanted to give the people here today a chance to see first-hand how this technology is being used, and to begin the kind of dialogue that leads to widespread adoption,” said Ulman. “We must be active players in the development of innovative technology and 3D Maryland is a huge step in that direction.”

Video from today’s press conference is online at 3DMaryland.org.