The Ion unveils new prototyping lab as part of effort to transform Houston into a global manufacturing hub

Officials with PolyVascular, a medical equipment manufacturing company, give a presentation at the new prototyping lab at The Ion on Jan. 31. (Courtesy Alex Montoya)
Officials with PolyVascular, a medical equipment manufacturing company, give a presentation at the new prototyping lab at The Ion on Jan. 31. (Courtesy Alex Montoya)

Officials with PolyVascular, a medical equipment manufacturing company, give a presentation at the new prototyping lab at The Ion on Jan. 31. (Courtesy Alex Montoya)

Houston’s newest innovation hub, The Ion, announced in a Jan. 31 news release that TXRX Labs, a Houston nonprofit, will be the operator of the new Ion Prototyping Lab.

The IPL is an innovation center that will boast equipment and support needed for startup companies, entrepreneurs and industries to be successful, according to the release. TXRX Labs will also provide hands-on training to jumpstart activity among those who work in the lab.

“With its close proximity to Houston’s Central Business District and The Texas Medical Center, The Ion is thrilled to provide the Houston tech community the Prototyping Lab operated by TXRX as an essential resource for businesses,” Ion Executive Director Jan Odegard said in a statement. “The Ion serves as a driver and convener of activity, while TXRX's successful model of hands-on training and technological innovation is being leveraged to jumpstart the activity of entrepreneurs, corporations and researchers.”

According to the release, the services provided by TXRX are: ideation services; workforce development and training with a focus on makers, equipment operation, computer-aided design and manufacturing; classes in critical digital and manual skills; lunch and learns on emerging technologies; and an internship program to connect those working in the lab with future engineers from Houston universities. The site will also have on-site access for engineers and technicians.

The lab will have different prototyping and manufacturing tools provided by The Ion and TXRX, such as laser cutters; a mill to form cylindrical, conical or flat surfaces; electronics assembly equipment; and a 3D printer, according to the release.



“The Ion Prototyping Lab is equipped with tools for prototyping robotics and other energy-focused innovations and cultivates an entirely new way of doing business in a reimagined, historic building and with one of Houston’s fastest-growing innovators, TXRX,” said Vincent Flickinger, senior associate and design director with Gensler Houston, an architectural, design and consulting services firm.

The IPL uses 6,500 of The Ion’s total 266,000 square feet. According to the release, the lab is the “largest open corporate and startup-aligned prototyping space in Houston.”

Houstonians wanting to use the lab will have access to a low-cost membership, and grant opportunities are available if financial assistance is needed, according to the release. A safety and skills training course will be required for all participants.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement that the new lab allows the city to break down barriers that once held entrepreneurs back from bringing their dreams to fruition. He said there is a growing need for these services in Houston.

“With every step forward, with each new partner added and ongoing input from the community, we are solidifying Houston’s position as the epicenter for innovation and technology,” Turner said.



By Sofia Gonzalez
Sofia joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2022 after graduating with a degree in Journalism from the University of Houston in December 2021. Sofia covers a variety of stories in her market, with a main focus on Houston City Council. Prior to CI, Sofia interned for Houston Public Media and Houstonia Magazine, and spent time writing for UH's student media.