YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – When he was a manufacturing engineering student, XJet chief brand officer Dror Danai said he was taught not to design things that cannot be made later. With the XJet Carmel 1400C, the ceramic 3D additive printing machine now operating at the Youngstown Business Incubator, he said that is no longer a concern.
As the XJet Carmel 1400C hummed in the background, YBI staff, the innovators from XJet and other partners celebrated bringing the groundbreaking additive manufacturing technology to the region.
The YBI announced Aug. 31 that it has completed the purchase agreement for the machine, which it
says leverages revolutionary nano-particle jetting technology to create additive manufactured items out of ceramics.
Created by XJet, an Israeli company, the technology is capable of creating small, intricate, highly specialized ceramic items. Earlier efforts in additive manufacturing have involved polymer and metal materials, not ceramics, officials said.
YBI was the first to have the machine in North America and partnered with XJet to help launch the new technology and get the new machine operating here.
Despite a few growing pains and COVID-19 slowing plans, the purchase agreement is now final between YBI and XJet.
“I’m confident with this kind of collaboration we can continue to do great things, continue to change the world,” said XJet CEO Yair Alcobi.
Danai said in choosing a place like Ohio and an organization like YBI, XJet would like to bring a shift into ceramic additive manufacturing across the country.
“Everybody knows why ceramic is so important. But with ceramics it is difficult to create different shapes,” Danai said. “This is why 3D printing makes a difference. Because now you are unlimited with the geometries that you can make.”
Resistant to heats and certain chemicals, the ceramic products are not susceptible to the pressures of wear and are able to insulate in electrical applications.
Danai said there are applications that can be done only with ceramics. He sees additive manufacturing as the start of the next industrial revolution because it can be used to create complexity without added cost.
The machine prints items with moving parts in one shot.
Danai said the 3D printing technology is aided by another jetted-support material that is used as a space holder and then disappears because it is water soluble. He told how an innovative piston for a European Chaos car was recently created with an XJet machine.
“This shows you the opportunities that additive manufacturing is opening for creative people. It allows them to think about a few things that were impossible before,” Danai said.
The machine at YBI is now ready to begin taking on more commercial projects.
YBI reports the ceramic 3D printing market is expected to grow seven-fold by 2032, reaching $400 million. The technology can be used to create parts for vehicles, medical, industrial and consumer products.
YBI CEO Barb Ewing said YBI staff were approached by five or six people interested in creating something with the technology while attending the recent Ceramics Expo event.
The XJet Carmel 1400C machine came to YBI following a 2017 trip to Israel sponsored by the Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.
YBI officials and Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel were among those who made the trip.
“We’ve been partnering with YBI since 2013,” said Lisa Long, the financial resource development director and administrator of the Thomases Family Endowment.
“This trip in 2017 was third time’s a charm. We had been trying some business development missions and we just struck gold with this one. … It was the right people at the right time.”
The Thomases Family Endowment gave the program a $127,000 grant to bring the new technology there. The grant was one of the foundation’s largest outside investments in 2021.
“In our realm we call it I-YBI,” Long said. “We’re so passionate about Youngstown and we’re so passionate about Israel,” Long said.
Israel is on the cutting edge of technology, as is the Youngstown region, so it made sense for the foundation to help make this happen, she explained.
Tressel said the trip included meetings with six companies and five universities. “This is one of the great things that have come [from this trip],” he said. “This is going to be huge for our country, our state and region.”
John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes, noted that over the past 10 years the institute has learned the importance of bringing new additive manufacturing technologies here and using them to create regional opportunities.
“We’re very excited, very proud of the team that made all this possible,” Wilczynski said. “But ultimately, we’re most excited about the opportunity we have over the coming years. What we hope to be celebrating in the coming years is the success of this and how we can use it in new fields.”
Pictured at top: Introducing the new technology are Myra Benedikt, Youngstown Area Jewish Foundation; Lisa Long, foundation financial resource development director; Dror Danai, XJet chief brand officer; Barb Ewing, YBI CEO; James Dascenzo, YBI executive committee; Yair Alcobi, XJet CEO; YSU President Jim Tressel; John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes; and Bonnie Burdman, executive director of community relations/government affairs at the Youngstown Area Jewish Foundation.