Youngstown’s America Makes paving the way for 3D printing technology

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A company in downtown Youngstown celebrated five years in business on Wednesday but what exactly does America Makes make?

The easiest explanation is that it experiments with 3D printing — but what does that mean?

“What a lot of people don’t understand is exactly how 3D printing works,” said Executive Director Rob Gorham.

America Makes is housed in an old building on W. Boardman Street and from the outside, it doesn’t look very high-tech. But inside, 3D printers are creating items like simple brackets used on airplanes, ships, or in construction.

A normal bracket is heavy and bulky but with titanium powder, lasers, and 3D printing, it becomes much lighter.

“The exact same part, the exact same need,” Gorham said.

On Wednesday, about 75 people gathered to celebrate America Makes’ 5th birthday. There was even a cake with five candles.

Ed Morris was the executive director for four and a half years before retiring in May. He flew in from Texas for the celebration.

Morris said when he started the business, he knew it would be a success but…

“Did we know how we were going to make it? No.”

Ralph Resnick, America Makes’ founding director, was also recognized.

“We are having impact and we continue to have impact and are looking for an additional five years,” he said.

America Makes is a public-private partnership. It gets money from the government but companies also pay to be part of it.

It started with 14 companies. Today there are 185.

“These are companies like Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, General Electric, as well as small businesses. Even small businesses in the area like the Youngstown Business Incubator, or M7, or AST-2,” Gorham said.

America Makes was the first Manufacturing USA institute in the United States. Now there are 14.