rnc

[Image: Cleveland Scene]

So it begins…this morning marked the official start of the 2016 Republican National Convention, right here in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I admit I’m nervous – for weeks, both the local and national news have been teeming with dire speculation on what might happen over the course of the week the convention is here. Regardless of your political views, it’s impossible to deny that things are very tense in the United States right now – in fact, I would say that tense is an understatement.

While many news outlets tend towards sensationalism and hyperbole, it’s still very unsettling to hear your hometown described as a “powder keg” or other violent and explosive metaphors. Any positive energy is much appreciated! With all of that said, though, there are some definite benefits to having one of the biggest political events of the year (arguably, the decade) in town.

d24bc7_be128ac461bb45ef8be27102a022701a-mv2_d_4104_2736_s_4_2Obviously, local businesses are hoping for some serious financial gain this week, what with all of the out-of-towners staying in hotels, eating at local restaurants, maybe getting some shopping in. In addition to money, there’s also recognition, which could be a very big deal for some smaller, lesser-known companies trying to get off the ground. One of those companies is Freshmade 3D, a Youngstown-based 3D printing service bureau about an hour outside of Cleveland that specializes in rare automotive parts. For the occasion of the RNC, however, they stepped away from their usual work to make something very different – a life-sized, 3D printed Donald Trump bobblehead.

Backed by the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, the project was a collaboration between Freshmade 3D, Youngstown State University and Humtown Products of nearby Columbiana. Bobblehead Trump, at 7 feet tall and 300 pounds, is actually larger than life-sized. The body, which was printed from fiberglass-reinforced sand, took about 30 hours to print, according to Rich Wetzel, additive manufacturing coordinator at the Youngstown Business Incubator. The head, printed in plastic, took 225 hours, with Trump’s notorious hair being printed separately. The entire statue was coated in aluminum. It is valued at approximately $35,000.

Bobblehead Trump now stands outside of Quicken Loans Arena, home of the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers (I’ve been waiting for weeks to work that into an article somewhere) and center of the RNC. He’s an impressive presence, glaring and nodding at passersby and gleaming bright silver. He’s impossible not to notice, which is exactly what his creators want. Representatives from Freshmade 3D, the Regional Chamber and Humtown Products will be hanging out with Bobblehead Trump all week, offering information about 3D printing to anyone interested.

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Rich Wetzel (L) and Guy Coviello with Bobblehead Trump. [Image: WKBN]

Freshmade 3D has already seen an increase in business thanks to the publicity the project has gotten them. More requests for automotive parts than usual are beginning to come through the site, according to Wetzel, and the publicity and ensuing benefits for the company are likely to increase a lot more in the near future – not only because of this week, but because the company and their partners will also be printing a life-sized bobblehead of Hillary Clinton for the first presidential debate, which will take place in September in Dayton, Ohio.

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[Image: WKBN]

“What I would like to see ultimately out of this is that whoever wins invites us to the White House and we do a nice news conference and we continue to spread the word that the Mahoning Valley is the capital of 3-D printing,” Guy Coviello, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Regional Chamber, told the Business Journal

With the Youngstown Business Incubator giving rise to several growing 3D printing startups, it’s fair to say that the Youngstown area, also home to America Makes, is a major 3D printing hub, if not the capital. You can learn more about Bobblehead Trump and Bobblehead Clinton – and watch a time-lapse video of the printing process – at the 3D Printed Prez website. What do you think of the bobblehead idea? Discuss further in the 3D Printed Bobblehead forum over at 3DPB.com.

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