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CoFactory 3D innovation lab opens in Milan

The hi-tech urban factory provides access to coworking and digital manufacturing machines as a service

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The urban, technological, and collaborative CoFactory – open to businesses, startups, and designers – has recently opened in Milan, Italy. The factory is dedicated to 3D innovation, with a focus on cutting-edge technologies and sustainability. It meets the growing need for 3D prototyping and natively digital and sustainable production by leveraging the skills of resident partners and shared installed technologies. The architectural project was designed by Pininfarina Architecture.

The initiative is located at the heart of the urban transformation of the Milano Certosa District, part of a project promoted by RealStep, a real estate development company specializing in the sustainable urban regeneration of former industrial sites. As a pioneer in adopting the CoFactory format, it has bet 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 – strengthening the synergy between creativity and real estate development that characterizes the district.

CoFactory is the synthesis of technological innovation and innovative spaces, representing 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 manufacturing machines as a service. The machines, with a strong focus on 3D printing, are available to anyone needing to prototype, innovate, and digitize production processes.

CoFactory 3D innovation lab opens in Milan - providing access to coworking and digital manufacturing machines as a service. CoFactory is at the center of Designtech’s mission: a hybrid, physical, and digital environment where coworking integrates with digital fabrication to foster 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.

“Everything starts with the idea of a place where creativity merges with technology, a space where designers and innovators can converge to build the future. Today, that idea is a reality. Creating CoFactory is a bold endeavor that has allowed us to create an innovative workplace and a new model that catalyzes three-dimensional innovation, projecting design and manufacturing into the future in an urban, collaborative, and sustainable format by design,” said Ivan Tallarico, CEO and Co-founder of Designtech.

Structure

CoFactory’s structure, created by Garc, highlights Pininfarina Architecture’s innovative approach, guiding 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, meeting rooms, and areas for meetings and training into a single functional and innovative environment. Inspired by the modular nature of containers, the interior design reflects high adaptability. To maintain modularity, the offices, positioned on the first floor and mezzanine level, are made with offsite construction systems (NPS system provided by Tecnostrutture) and integrate movable walls that allow space expansion when needed.

CoFactory 3D innovation lab opens in Milan - providing access to coworking and digital manufacturing machines as a service.

Cutting-edge technologies

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

Co-design

CoFactory was designed according to a co-design logic, incorporating sustainable furnishings oriented towards personal and worker well-being. Numerous partners 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 ensure high natural lighting and create synergy between dedicated offices and the prototyping area, guaranteeing excellent acoustic insulation standards; Stonhard, which laid the resin on the flooring, ensuring safety, protection, hygiene, and longevity. Among the companies involved by Designtech in the furniture sector are Estel, Interface, Listone Giordano, MDD, Pedrali, Quadrifoglio Group, Tarkett, Fantoni, Kindof, Würth, Luxy, and IOC.

Environmental and social impact

The project promotes sustainability, aiming 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 instead of finished products, allowing on-site fabrication or assembly of offsite-produced components. This system significantly reduces environmental impact and promotes sustainable production by lowering CO2 emissions.

CoFactory 3D innovation lab opens in Milan - providing access to coworking and digital manufacturing machines as a service.

Collaborative ecosystem

CoFactory is a creative and collaborative ecosystem that generates a constant flow of inspiration and professional growth. The structure offers concrete support for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and skills within the community, hosting events, pitches, keynotes, and talks, transforming into a center of innovation and sharing. The space is accessible to residents, members of the Designtech community, and accredited professionals, who can book and manage their activities independently through the Designtech app, with the possibility of reserving their space, organizing events, and interacting with the community in real-time.

Design Momentum acceleration program

Among the various activities, CoFactory also hosts 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, leveraging potentially transformative technologies such as IoT, AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and 3D printing. The program includes the opportunity to create strategic collaborations with established companies and synergistically develop innovative Proof of Concepts (PoCs).

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