NEO Works to Become ‘Silicon Valley of 3D Printing’

Additive manufacturing (AM) represents the future of the manufacturing industry and Northeast Ohio is working to become the center of AM innovation. Home to America Makes, the national accelerator for additive manufacturing and 3D printing which is located in Youngstown, Northeast Ohio is uniquely-positioned to help businesses adopt and leverage AM technologies. With a strong manufacturing base, a variety of university and institutional resources as well as connections to end-user markets, Northeast Ohio continues to build its reputation as an additive manufacturing hub.

A recent study conducted by the Youngstown Business Incubator, MAGNET (the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network), America Makes and Team NEO took a deep dive into exploring the region’s additive manufacturing potential and found that Northeast Ohio is indeed poised to benefit from this growing area. The study looked at the region’s existing assets, identifying opportunities for growth in the years ahead.

Among Northeast Ohio’s greatest AM-related assets are its:

  • High concentration of universities training 3DP (three-dimensional printing) design talent
  •  Historically strong manufacturing base and associated workforce
  • World-class materials and biomedical resources
  • Growing presence of innovators and innovation service providers

In order to leverage the region’s full AM potential, the study outlined five key goals for Northeast Ohio. The first of these emphasized the need to establish a regional innovation cluster focused on making Northeast Ohio the nexus of additive manufacturing in the Midwest. Development of an AM cluster has already begun with America Makes, MAGNET, Team NEO and the Youngstown Business Incubator taking a leading role in its creation. As development of the cluster continues, its organizers will also look to execute on the remaining four goals outlined in the study, which include:

  • Driving expanded applications of AM for tooling, fixtures, and enhanced manufacturing productivity by making investments in technical support, capital equipment, workforce development, and industry-based educational programs.
  • Using formal education and workforce training initiatives to boost the adoption of AM, and place a strong emphasis on the development and retention of design and engineering talent.
  • Building out supply chain strength in the key market verticals of the automotive, biomedical and aerospace industries, including an attraction strategy for key gaps in the existing supply chains.
  • Establishing a framework that will foster entrepreneurship and commercialization of AM supply chain technologies, as well as the northeast Ohio “maker” community.

While much work remains, many believe that Northeast Ohio has great potential to one day become the ‘Silicon Valley of 3D printing.’ As Brad Whitehead, President of the Fund for Our Economic Future, said in statement, “This report tells us that the opportunities in additive manufacturing are immense for our region and Northeast Ohio can strengthen its manufacturing future and establish a leadership role in additive manufacturing by initiating partnerships with local businesses and neighboring regions that offer complementary assets.”

To learn more about the region’s many additive manufacturing strengths, please follow the links below.