By Kelcey Norris
The Youngstown Business Incubator hosted a screening of a video, “Rethinking Manufacturing,” produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, which acknowledges the efforts of two Youngstown State University graduates and a professor.
“Rethinking Manufacturing” was filmed in Youngstown, and the subjects discuss the manufacturing history of the city and the future of the industry.
YSU graduates Ashley Totin and Zac Divencenzo, as well as their mentor and professor Martin Cala, were featured in the film.
Divencenzo said the NIST wanted to create a video that exhibits the growth of Youngstown.
“Fifteen to 20 years ago, this area experienced a huge shift,” he said. “We were once known as the epicenter of steel manufacturing, but after the closing of the mills many thought that manufacturing would go elsewhere.”
While steel had stimulated the economy of Youngstown and all seemed lost, engineers like Totin and Divencenzo saw opportunity in additive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is one of the many emerging technologies being introduced around the globe.
Divencenzo said his career led him to create his own company, Juggerbot 3D, from the basement of YSU.
“I got lucky and had the chance to work with new equipment in the basement and basically fostered a company out of the basement with my business partner Dan Fernback,” Divencenzo, president and co-founder of Juggerbot 3D, said.
With a mission to revolutionize current 3D printing equipment and techniques in additive manufacturing, the business partners decided to stay close to home.
“The ‘Rethinking Manufacturing’ video uses my story and Ashley’s story to show that we wanted to be involved in Youngstown,” Divencenzo said. “We knew that manufacturing didn’t have to go anywhere else. Additive manufacturing was interesting and should be thought about.”
Divencenzo said Juggerbot 3D made the decision to make additive manufacturing more than what it was.
“We were so happy to have the support of America Makes and the Youngstown Business Incubator,” he said.
America Makes is one of the nation’s top research centers for additive manufacturing, and one of its four locations is on West Boardman Street in Youngstown.
“[The NIST] chose America Makes because we are the flagship institute. It was also because of the story of Youngstown and how bringing additive manufacturing has really affected Youngstown,” Totin, project manager at America Makes, said.
With businesses launching from within the city, such as Juggerbot 3D, and others coming from California and international locations to bring their technology to Youngstown, the city is booming with potential.
“In 2012, America Makes and Youngstown State University increased research opportunities. Now, the Youngstown Business Incubator gives the opportunity to startups and new businesses,” Totin said. “An entire ecosystem is developing in Youngstown and seems to be bringing people back into the area.”
During her early years of education, Totin took an interest in math instinctively but did not find the dirtiness of industrial factories appealing. However, as products changed quickly, so did work conditions.
“Now, going into this new advanced technology, this new age of manufacturing, it is a very clean facility manufacturing 3D printers quickly and selling them,” Totin said. “It’s cleaner, it’s economical and it’s cost-effective.”
Totin has dedicated her time and experience with America Makes and educating the younger generations on additive manufacturing and new, emerging technology.
Cala, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at YSU, said he remembers introducing Totin to manufacturing plants during her collegiate experience.
“She probably thought that meant an extra paper, but I had her put steel-toe covers over her shoes and she went right into a manufacturing plant,” Cala said.
Both graduates credit Cala, also featured in the “Rethinking Manufacturing” video, as their greatest mentor and guide through their academic and personal lives.
Cala recalled his first time meeting Divencenzo.
“When I met Zac, he was working underneath one of my rusty cars in his grandfather’s shop and I asked him what he was going to school for,” Cala said. “He told me he was going to be a doctor, and I said, ‘No, you’re going to be an engineer.’”
The “Rethinking Manufacturing” video can be found on YouTube at https://youtu.be/_ao50qkNZsI.