Aug 15, 2017 | By Tess

While many may be inclined to screen alumni donation phone calls from their alma maters, one notable alum from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell has gone above and beyond with his giving back.

Lawrence Lin, who received his doctorate in polymer science and plastics engineering from the university almost two decades ago, has donated $1 million to his alma mater for the establishment of an extensive 3D printing lab for students.

GDI president and UMass Lowell alum Lawrence Lin

Since his graduation from UMass Lowell in 1990, Lin has gone on to become the president of Grand Dynasty Industrial Co. Ltd., a Taiwan-based injection molding and plastics company which was founded by his father and older brother.

According to Lin, his education and training at UMass Lowell enabled him to return to Taiwan and transform his family’s grassroots company into a globally recognized injection molding specialist. Understandably, he has felt the need to give back.

His $1 million donation to the school, which was first announced last year, has gone towards setting up an 8,500 square foot 3D printing and rapid prototyping lab. Appropriately dubbed the Lawrence Lin MakerSpace, the facility contains an assortment of 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters, and a slew of other prototyping and manufacturing tools.

What we found particularly notable about Lin’s donated MakerSpace is that it is open and running 24 hours a day, so as not to limit when students find inspiration to make.

Though his company specializes in injection molding processes, which are often seen as distinct and even opposite to additive manufacturing, Lin believes that 3D printing has a role to play in the prototyping and manufacturing of parts and tools. In fact, his company has adopted metal 3D printing technologies in order to produce molds for injection molding.

Lin and UMass students hold a map of Lowell designed and manufactured at the $1M maker space

(Images: University of Massachusetts Lowell)

Lin has taken a progressive stance in regards to his business, recognizing that environmentally friendly and smart manufacturing technologies should be the future and can help to overcome current challenges in the industry.

In practice, GDI has joined a partnership between industry and government in Taiwan to promote the adoption and shift towards Industry 4.0 technologies, of which 3D printing is included.

Lin believed that because many of Taiwan’s manufacturing companies are relatively small, they can adapt easily to changing technologies and processes.

Currently, GDI employs 245 people and has two New Taipei City facilities in operation. Lin said that this fall construction will begin for a third facility, worth $20 million, that will be geared towards the medical market.

GDI’s client base is diverse, with many of its key customers being based in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and Italy. Local business only accounts for 1.5 percent of GDI’s total sales, and its business in mainland China is mainly with multinationals who have offices in the country.

"Lawrence has said he owes this university a lot, but we at UMass Lowell owe him a lot—both for his philanthropy and for his faith in our mission," commented UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney earlier this year. "The Lin MakerSpace empowers our students to bring their engineering concepts to life, like the members of our eNABLE team who use its 3D printers to fabricate prosthetic hands for young children."

 

 

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