Freshmade 3D Develops Process and Changes Course
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – At 25, Rich Wetzel is the CEO of his own company and has a patent pending on a 3-D printing process that he and his two team members created.
Freshmade 3D is a custom design and manufacturing firm focused on using 3-D design software, scanning and 3-D printing processes, which he describes as the most cost-effective solution for many businesses.
Wetzel started the company last year, focusing on products for the automotive restoration industry.
About the same time, the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber commissioned Freshmade to make life-sized bobbleheads of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The Trump bobblehead was displayed at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, drawing attention from news organizations from around the world.
(Today the bobbleheads stand in the Soap Gallery in downtown Youngstown.)
“That was a very unique project,” Wetzel says. “It was a chance to get our name out as a startup.”
Because the parts that needed to be printed using 3-D were so large, he had to find a way to make them more affordable for the chamber. “Any conventional printing would have been too expensive,” Wetzel says.
The project required Wetzel to develop his own process, called AMClad, as he worked with Humtown Products in Columbiana, which houses a sand printer that Freshmade uses.
The process starts with sand composite. Normal molds made with sand can break easily if dropped, Wetzel explains.
“We found a way to take this fragile sand piece and turn it into something that’s not going to break,” he says. The new process combines several 3-D printing techniques that use sand, metal and plastic.
As he sits before his desk, Wetzel demonstrates the durability of the new process by hitting a large organ pedal made from AMClad. It doesn’t break.
Recently, Wetzel decided to pivot from automotive restoration to focus on AMClad. “There’s a lot of potential in this market,” he says. “It is presenting a better opportunity for us.”
Wetzel sees a demand for large-scale tools in the manufacturing industry that he can create quicker, enabling companies to more easily meet their production deadlines. He also wants to use his new printers to create custom sculptures and displays for art work in buildings.
“It’s neat stuff to work on,” he says.
Pictured: Rich Wetzel, CEO of Freshmade 3D.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.