CoFactory 3D innovation lab opens in Milan

The urban, technological and collaborative CoFactory – open to companies, startups and designers – recently opened in Milan, Italy. The factory is dedicated to 3D innovation, with an emphasis on advanced technologies and sustainability. It addresses the growing need for 3D prototyping and native digital and sustainable manufacturing by leveraging the skills of local partners and shared installed technologies. The architectural project was designed by Pininfarina Architecture.

The initiative is at the heart of the urban transformation of the Milano Certosa district, part of a project promoted by RealStep, a real estate development company specialized in the sustainable urban renewal of former industrial sites. As a pioneer in adopting the CoFactory format, the company has capitalized on its ability to embrace and support innovation in its development activities. In this context, Designtech also manages C.Space, the design and media lounge where ‘Designtech, The Podcast’ is recorded – reinforcing the synergy between creativity and real estate development that characterizes the district.

CoFactory is the synthesis of technological innovation and innovative spaces and represents Designtech’s hub to bring together a community of companies, startups and professionals under one roof – with access to coworking with flexible formulas and digital production machines as a service. The machines, with a strong focus on 3D printing, are available to anyone who wants to prototype, innovate and digitize production processes.

CoFactory is central to Designtech’s mission: a hybrid, physical and digital environment that integrates coworking with digital manufacturing to promote the development of innovative technological solutions. From the initial idea to the transformation into concrete prototypes, CoFactory facilitates this process by providing designers, startups and scale-ups with design services and hardware for rapid prototyping and small-scale production or limited editions.

“It all starts with the idea of ​​a place where creativity merges with technology, a space where designers and innovators can come together to build the future. Today that idea is a reality. Creating CoFactory is a bold undertaking that has enabled us to create an innovative workplace and a new model that catalyzes three-dimensional innovation, projecting design and production into the future in an urban, collaborative and sustainable format through design” , said Ivan Tallarico, CEO and co-founder of Designtech.

Structure

The structure of CoFactory, created by Garc, highlights Pininfarina Architecture’s innovative approach and guides the design of the first urban factory open to the ecosystem. The studio focused on the fluid integration of offices, machine zones, thematic labs, coworking spaces, conference rooms and meeting and training areas into one functional and innovative environment. Inspired by the modular nature of containers, the interior design reflects high adaptability. To maintain modularity, the offices, located on the first floor and on the mezzanine floor, are made with external building systems (NPS system provided by Tecnostrutture) and integrate movable walls that allow space expansion when necessary.

Latest technologies

The production area is equipped with the latest technologies, including hybrid additive manufacturing and milling systems, a flexible work center for the processing of plastics and advanced materials, light metals and wood derivatives (Kreator Ares and Evotech 400 from partner Cms), 3D printers for superpolymers and composites (ARGO 500 and Plus PRO supplied by Roboze), and a robot with linear axis motion capability (IRB 6700 from partner ABB) for assembly and printing activities with unconventional materials.

Co-design

CoFactory is designed according to a co-design logic, with sustainable furniture aimed at the well-being of people and employees. Numerous partners have contributed to setting up the space, including Zumtobel Group, with smart and sustainable LED lighting that adapts to new and continuous space configurations; Mangini, whose glass walls provide plenty of natural light and create synergy between the dedicated offices and the prototype space, ensuring excellent acoustic insulation standards; Stonhard, who laid the resin on the floor, ensuring safety, protection, hygiene and longevity. The companies involved in the furniture sector by Designtech include Estel, Interface, Listone Giordano, MDD, Pedrali, Quadrifoglio Group, Tarkett, Fantoni, Kindof, Würth, Luxy and IOC.

Environmental and social impact

The project promotes sustainability and aims to generate a positive environmental and social impact. This is achieved by minimizing material transportation and encouraging zero-mile production through digital manufacturing technologies. By creating a decentralized network of CoFactory hubs, CAD files circulate in place of final products, allowing for on-site manufacturing or assembly of externally produced components. This system significantly reduces environmental impact and promotes sustainable production by reducing CO2 emissions.

Collaborative ecosystem

CoFactory is a creative and collaborative ecosystem that generates a constant flow of inspiration and professional growth. The structure provides concrete support for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and skills within the community, organizing events, pitches, keynotes and lectures, transforming into a center of innovation and sharing. The space is open to residents, members of the Designtech community and accredited professionals, who can book and manage their activities independently through the Designtech app, with the ability to reserve their space, organize events and interact with the community in real time to communicate .

Design Momentum acceleration program

In addition to the various activities, CoFactory also organizes the Design Momentum acceleration program, launched by Designtech and co-financed by the Lombardy Region, with the aim of promoting innovation in design. Twelve selected startups and SMEs have the opportunity to create innovative solutions related to sustainable design and the human-built environment, using potentially transformative technologies such as IoT, AI, VR/AR, blockchain and 3D printing . The program offers the opportunity to establish strategic collaborations with established companies and synergistically develop innovative Proof of Concepts (PoCs).