The sum could make some jealous. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has just approved a loan of 15 million euros to Ultimaker, the Dutch manufacturer of open source 3D printers. Logically, the official bank of the European Union, which mainly funds innovation projects, has decided to invest in R&D and new products.
But not only. Part of the loan will also be reserved for the educational Pioneer program, launched by Ultimaker in the U.S. and soon to be implemented in Europe. Its objective is to introduce students and teachers to 3D printing by networking 50 schools spread out across Europe. “The financial support of the EIB (…) allows us to further strengthen our strong position in the global 3D printing market,” says Ultimaker CEO Jos Burger in a press release. “As a European company we believe we have a special role in bringing 3D printing to young people all over Europe.”
Practically speaking, Ultimaker will use EIB’s funding to distribute for free 3D printers and supplies to schools hosting the program. Students and teachers will also have free access to course outlines, 3D printing tutorials and guides. “The fact that our machines and software are open source allows us to quickly improve our products, but schools also benefit,” says Ultimaker’s Iris Smeekes. “Teachers can easily take the printer further. It will also have a positive influence on the students, who will be able to optimize or modify it according to their needs.”