Economic Development

$185K ARC Grant Supports 3D Printing at YBI

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A $185,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will help the Youngstown Business Incubator increase its 3D printing capacity. The grant will allow YBI and Youngstown State University to purchase new 3D printing equipment and software.

Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC, grants help their communities remain competitive on the national and global scene, said Tim Thomas, co-chairman. Thomas, who assumed the position earlier this year, participated in a check presentation Thursday at YBI’s Tech Block Building No. 5.

“Technology is changing, manufacturing is changing, and we want to make sure that the Appalachian region and the United States generally are well prepared to compete on a global scale,” Thomas said.

“These are the kinds of investments the country needs to be making in communities like ours,” added U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio.

YBI’s fifth building, which is dedicated to advanced manufacturing, opened in December and is part of the “advanced manufacturing ecosystem” Youngstown over the past six years, said James Dascenzo, president of YBI’s board of directors. That ecosystem includes YBI, YSU and America Makes, the federal additive manufacturing hub launched in 2012 and housed in a YBI building on West Boardman Street.

ARC has been “a great partner” to YBI over the years, providing money five years ago for a milling machine and renovations to the first floor of the incubator’s original West Federal Street building, Dascenzo added.

Using the grant funds, YBI has installed a National Machine Tool wire electrical discharge machining, or EDM, machine in Tech Block Building No. 5. The machine slices metal parts off the build plates used for additive manufacturing, according to a YBI release. A 3D Systems ProJet printer also was purchased and installed in YSU’s Moser Hall.

YBI is acquiring 3D milling software that will be used with a five-axis milling machine purchased using a previous ARC grant. Additionalequipment, such as grinders and surface plates, will be purchased as well.

“We are very familiar with this incubator and the good work that it does. We are very comfortable with an additional investment,” Thomas said.

“In metal printing, it’s not just about printing the part. It’s also about post-processing,” said Barb Ewing, YBI’s CEO. “You have to be able to take the products down to the final tolerances and machine them down to get the feel that you want. This equipment, this award, will take us toward being able to do that more cost effectively and in-house.”

The equipment and software are “tools of necessity to keep additive manufacturing competitive,” but such resources often are beyond the financial reach of small and midsize companies, Thomas remarked. “This investment will enable YBI to fill that gap by purchasing, housing and maintaining this equipment for use by emerging advanced manufacturers,” he said.

“It’s about returning communities like ours to the forefront of economic growth in our country,” Ryan added.

The congressman reflected on recent events in the Mahoning Valley, from Saturday night’s record-breaking concert by Florida Georgia Line to acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s performance Monday in Warren and the visit by the traveling Vietnam War memorial, “The Wall That Heals,” in Warren.

“We’re fighting on all fronts,” he said. “Our community was behind for a while and we are now leading the way.”

Pictured: U.S. Rep Tim Ryan; Jason Wilson, director of Ohio Governor’s Office of Appalachia; Barb Ewing, CEO, Youngstown Business Incubator; Tim Thomas, federal co-chairman, Appalachian Regional Commission; Kathy Zook, ARC program manager for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments; James Dascenzo, chairman of the YBI board of directors; Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.