You’ve probably read the title and thought “Youngstown? There’s nothing there anymore, is there?” There is. Youngstown, Ohio is a city known all over the world for its steel-making history and hardworking people. It’s also known for its demise when the mills and factories started to close their doors. But the “Rust Belt,” as it had been known, is quickly making advancements in technology – crowning itself with a new title, the Tech Belt. Sticking to its manufacturing roots, Additive Manufacturing (AM) is pushing not just Youngstown, but Northeast Ohio, to the forefront once again and here’s why:
1) THE YOUNGSTOWN BUSINESS INCUBATOR HAS A KILLER ADVANCED MANUFACTURING PROGRAM
The Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) is a technology-focused incubator whose mission is to facilitate the creation of high-value businesses through collaborative partnerships that promote innovative technologies and long-term sustainable employment opportunities with a focus on Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing. And simply put, their AM team is killing it. Over the past four years, the AM team has secured over $12M in grants for research and development in collaboration with other organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. The YBI adopted the term Advanced Manufacturing to their program because their work goes beyond just Additive Manufacturing. Their most notable project is MAMLS – the Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-cost Sustainment. MAMLS is a project that uses additive manufacturing to replace parts on aging Air Force aircraft. Neat, huh?
2) YBI’S PROGRAM IS BRINGING ALL THE TECH TO THE YARD
Northeast Ohio is becoming internationally recognized in the industry. At the very beginning of 2018, XJet, a provider of breakthrough ceramic and metal additive manufacturing solutions for the aerospace, automotive, medical/dental and tooling markets, solidified an agreement with the YBI, making it the first (and only) beta site in the United States for its Carmel 1400 Ceramic Printer. This printer uses XJET’s patented NanoParticle Jetting™ technology. Simply put, this allows manufacturers to produce ceramic or metal parts with complex geometries with the ease and versatility of inkjet printing
Yep, you’ve read that correctly. The only place in the U.S. with this printer is Youngstown. Do you know what this means? The possibilities for advancement in the medical industry alone are HUGE.
3) INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES ARE KNOCKIN’ ON OUR DOOR
In January of 2017, YBI’s CEO Barb Ewing, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel, and representatives from the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation took a trip to Tel Aviv to discuss opportunities for collaboration with organizations in Israel. It’s a well-known fact that Israel has some of the best emerging technologies and a great pool of talent, yet they do not have the market size to capitalize on their technology like we have here in the U.S. That’s where we come into play. Stemming from that trip, the YBI solidified a partnership with The Junction, a top business accelerator in Tel Aviv, and F2 Capital, the Venture Capital arm of The Junction, due to the “world-class community” around additive manufacturing featured here in Northeast Ohio and the Mahoning Valley. Since this trip, YBI has been in discussion with seven AM-focused companies, with one of them establishing operations in Northeast Ohio already. Oh, by the way, Italy called too… they’re coming next.
4) WHEN AMERICA MAKES, AMERICA WORKS!
America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is located on the campus of the Youngstown Business Incubator in Downtown Youngstown. Established in 2012, America Makes is the flagship Institute for Manufacturing USA, the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. What’s really unique about America Makes is their members; America Makes is structured as a public-private partnership and has over 200-member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources. So, what’s the goal? The goal is to work together to innovate and accelerate Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing to increase the nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness.
5) THE NORTHEAST OHIO AM CLUSTER IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL
What started out as a cluster analysis of the AM landscape in the region has since turned into The Northeast Ohio Additive Manufacturing Cluster (NEOAMC), a diverse membership opportunity for manufacturers, academia, non-profits, and major companies. The simplest way to describe the cluster: think of Northeast Ohio as the Napa Valley of Additive Manufacturing. The NEOAMC is a major asset to the general efforts of AM in Northeast Ohio through its quarterly events and working groups with different focuses such as aerospace, medical, materials, and tooling. The cluster allows for an abundance of networking and supply chain connections with organizations of all calibers. What better way for the little guy to meet with the big dogs than by putting them in the same room to discuss opportunities and developments.
Youngstown: an area once known for its strength in steel manufacturing, now looked at as the rust belt with nothing to offer, is making a strong comeback by reinventing its manufacturing strengths with a modern-day tech focus. It’s safe to say with the buy-in received so far and the efforts underway, Advanced Manufacturing is going to continue to play a huge role in the shift from Rust Belt to Tech Belt making Youngstown a competitor among larger cities once again. So, now what do you think of Youngstown?