Study Shows Path to Additive Manufacturing Cluster

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A recently concluded study to determine the feasibility for an additive manufacturing cluster will be discussed Aug. 2 at America Makes.

Results of the study, supported by the Fund for Our Economic Future, an alliance of funders dedicated to advancing economic growth and equitable access to opportunity for the people of northeastern Ohio, were announced today in Akron at the University of Akron Research Foundation.

The study was conducted by a project team of technology-based economic development organizations composed of the Youngstown Business Incubator, Team NEO, Magnet and America Makes.

The objective of the study is to develop a roadmap and an execution plan for northeastern Ohio to evolve additive manufacturing as a key growth opportunity for the region.
 The study uncovered three key areas of strengths in the region – materials, product manufacture and design engineering.

“This document literally gives us a roadmap to make northeast Ohio the center of the additive manufacturing revolution,” said Barb Ewing, YBI’s chief operating officer, who spearheaded the effort, said.

“By working together and engaging with the other economic development organizations, colleges and universities, government and industry, we can create the atmosphere that we need to support the industry – and create sustainable jobs and wealth in our communities,” she continued.

Most analysts predict a compound annual growth rate of more than 25% for the additive manufacturing sector through 2020. With the resources in northeastern Ohio, home to more than 2,000 companies in the metal fabrication or plastics and rubber processing sector, there is an opportunity to integrate the additive manufacturing supply chain in the area to build a robust cluster, according to a news release announcing the study today.

“When you couple those facts with the rich design/engineering resources we have in our universities such as the University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University and Youngstown State University, you realize that the region has an opportunity to not only be at the center of the supply chain for additive manufacturing, but to also produce the leaders of this design transformation,” said Tim Fahey, vice president of industry and innovation at Team NEO.

According to Ethan Karp, CEO of MAGNET, the strength of the industrial base in northeastern Ohio is one of the assets that can be built upon to build the cluster.

“We have an opportunity to transform how manufacturing happens in Northeast Ohio. By developing programs to help companies integrate additive manufacturing into their existing manufacturing process, whether it’s through low volume tooling or hybrid manufacturing, we can position Ohio manufacturers to be at the forefront of advanced manufacturing,” he said.

“Additive Manufacturing will change not only how we make things, but what we make.  We see opportunities in aerospace, bioscience, and automotive that simply weren’t there before this technology began to unfold. This is a great time to be a manufacturer in northeast Ohio because of the opportunities that are going to open up for us,” said 
Rob Gorham, Ohio operations manager of America Makes.

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