Submitted by Columbia Basin Trust
Local entrepreneurs, students, academics and makers will be able to work with innovative materials, test out original products and get help bringing unique ideas and products to market at a new laboratory in Trail.
Known as MIDAS, the laboratory will help create new business opportunities, expand the skill sets of people who live here and increase regional competitiveness. It is being financed in part by up to $850,000 over four years from Columbia Basin Trust.
MIDAS stands for Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies, and is being spearheaded by the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST). There are two main parts to the laboratory.
The first is a fab lab, or “digital fabrication laboratory,” intended for rapid prototyping and training in additive manufacturing, which is a method of building 3-D objects by adding layer upon layer of material, such as plastic, metal or concrete. Users will be able to quickly create a model of an item—for example, a mechanical part or a snowboard—using 3-D computer-aided design and a 3-D printer. There will also be areas focused on electronics, laser cutting, molding, casting, metalwork and woodwork.
“In our region, with our metals expertise, MIDAS will enable us to use materials in new and novel ways that will provide us with a competitive advantage,” said Amber Hayes, MIDAS Project Director. “It will also provide businesses with the opportunity to get prototypes made locally—they have to be made elsewhere now. And it will allow us to train local people on how to use this equipment, which will be a high-demand skill as new technologies change the way manufacturing is being done.”
The MIDAS lab is currently under construction, with specialized equipment training opportunities available. MIDAS will welcome the public in September 2016. To follow the development of the lab and learn more about the technologies, like the MIDAS Facebook page at facebook.com/midasfablab.