The Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI) held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, December 11 to celebrate the opening of Tech Block Building 5, the fifth building on their campus in downtown Youngstown, Ohio. The building will provide space for early stage companies in the additive manufacturing industry and house industrial equipment for research and part production.
YBI received help from community and national supporters to complete the $5.7 million project. Barb Ewing, the incubator’s CEO, expressed her gratitude by recognizing everyone involved:
“We get a lot of kudos in the community for the work that we do and we certainly are appreciative of that,” Ewing said. “But there’s a saying that feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it away.”
YBI started offering entrepreneurial support for early stage additive manufacturing companies shortly after America Makes opened on their campus in 2012. Over the last few years, YBI has added approximately 10 additive manufacturing portfolio companies, and with continued growth expected, acquiring additional space was a priority.
Two years ago, they had the opportunity to purchase the former home of Youngstown’s local newspaper, The Vindicator – a 65,000-square-foot building conveniently located near America Makes, which celebrated its fifth birthday this summer. Where old Linotype printing presses once pumped out the news of the day, new industrial 3D printers will produce parts that shape the future of manufacturing.
Although the building required a lot of renovations, it provided the perfect opportunity to create an additive manufacturing research and innovation center due to the location and the fact that it was once a manufacturing space.
“For so many different reasons, it was the perfect building for us,” Ewing said. “First and foremost, its proximity to our campus right beside America Makes. More importantly, it is a manufacturing space [and] the fact the newspaper was printed there and that it had an industrial elevator and garage door openings, too, allow equipment and materials to move in and out made it even more ideal to us.”
The building has been completely transformed with fresh coats of paint and new lighting, but still possesses many historical characteristics of the old building such as original wood doors, fixtures, offices, and more. The building also received modern upgrades like a new electrical system and passenger elevator. TBB5 will soon house four of YBI’s additive manufacturing portfolio companies: Strangpresse, AST2, Juggerbot 3D and 3D PrinterWorks.
“This facility is going to help us fulfill orders and grow into the business we can become,” said Dan Fernback, CEO of JuggerBot 3D.
Strangpresse manufactures extruders for the additive manufacturing industry and will be one of the first tenants to occupy the building. The space at YBI will allow them to create prototypes and parts in a number of hours compared to weeks and months when outsourcing fabrication.
Charles George, CEO of Strangpresse, said, “It’s also important to us because of the other companies here. There’s a lot of collaboration and sharing ideas. Just the enthusiasm and the electricity being here, that’s great. It’s also important to us because of the other companies here.”
In addition, a classroom and state-of-the-art additive manufacturing equipment will also occupy space in the building, including an industrial metal 3D printer from America Makes and the new Carmel 1400 additive manufacturing system from the Israel-based company XJet Ltd.The Carmel 1400 features patented NanoParticle Jetting technology for the production of metal or ceramic parts through inkjet printing. The installation at YBI is the first in the US for the new system, and it will be used to primarily produce ceramic parts for research and development and parts production.
According to Avi Cohen, Vice President of Healthcare and Education for XJet, meeting Ewing and YBI’s team and partners answered the difficult question of choosing a first beta site in the US. Their team recognized the additive manufacturing assets in Youngstown and their deep understanding of the technology and decided it would be the best location to house their machine.
“Youngstown is very special. It is filled with talented people, professional people, gifted people hungry to succeed,” Cohen said. “The only limit will be the limit to their imagination to what they can do with this technology.”
The opportunity to house the first Carmel 1400 in the US occured after a business trip to Israel in January by Ewing and others from Youngstown State University and the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.
To help cover TBB5 renovation costs, YBI received $1.5 million from the state of Ohio and $500,000 from the city of Youngstown, as well as $3 million from the Economic Development Administration.
Jeannette P. Tamayo, Chicago regional director for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, said, “We have great confidence that we will be back here in five years to celebrate even more success.”
Youngstown State University (YSU) is a partner of YBI and will use the facility to train the future workforce in the additive manufacturing industry. YSU is one of the only universities in the country to possess the seven main processes of additive manufacturing.
“Our best learning is when we are doing applied learning,” said Mike Hripko, Associate Vice President for Research at YSU. “It’s just a point of pride that the community has embraced the technology. It’s so gratifying.”
It was also announced at the ceremony that in honor of Jim Cossler, YBI’s Huntington Bank Entrepreneur in Residence, ‘chief evangelist’ and Ewing’s predecessor as CEO, a pair of charging stations for electric cars will be installed at YBI and will be the first in the Youngstown area.
“And we are proud to announce that YBI will be the home to the first charging stations for electric cars,” Ewing said. “We will have green spaces in front of the building — just as soon as we can get them installed in front of our new building.”
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Sources/Images: The Vindicator, Business Journal, Youngstown Business Incubator]