When Henry Cialone wants to illustrate how EWI’s mission is to help shape the future of manufacturing through innovative technology solutions, he has plenty of success stories he can tell. But a recent one stands out because it ties together launching a new business to help get people into the workforce, innovative technology and Ohio.
As president and CEO of EWI in Columbus, Cialone was hearing about a lack of welders in the industry because many were retiring and few were entering the field. Formerly known as Edison Welding Institute, EWI is a leading engineering and technology organization dedicated to collaborative manufacturing technologies and ways to better join advanced materials.
“Our customers were asking, ‘Why don’t you train more welders?’” Cialone says. “The simple answer was, ‘Well, that’s not what we do. If we started doing it now, we would be the worst trainers in the world.’”
But he still felt he could try to do something about the situation. EWI doesn’t deliver training, but it does develop technology — and that could accelerate welders’ training and meet the demand for skilled workers.
Not only was the technology developed, but the breakthrough spawned a new company, launched job opportunities and was a win-win for Ohio’s workforce and manufacturers.
Cialone says EWI developed the technology, launched a company to sell the products and then sold that company about a year and a half later to Lincoln Electric of Cleveland, the world leader in the welding space.
“It was a nice, successful exit for us and now there is an ongoing relationship between us and Lincoln, which is also a side benefit of this deal,” he says.
The possibilities are unlimited, Cialone says, especially since Ohio has a reputation as a good state in which to do business: “Sometimes I like to say our businesses are from rocket ships to potato chips — because we are working on the cutting edge of commercial space.”
Strength: Lending a hand
The welding motion capture device is just one way technology is helping make Ohio a leader in advanced manufacturing.
Some definitions are in order: advanced manufacturing involves using technology to create complex products faster, more precisely and less expensive than conventional manufacturing.
The term includes methods such as CAD/CAM, in which a piece is designed by computer and instructions are written for its manufacture; robotic assembly; composite materials; and the one that draws the most media coverage, additive manufacturing (which includes rapid prototyping and 3-D printing).
In 3-D printing, an object is created by a printer laying down extremely thin successive layers of material until the entire object is created. This is done over a span of hours or days.
While additive manufacturing dates back to the 1980s, it’s only been in recent years that large 3-D printers have increased in size and decreased in price. A Chinese company named WinSun is reported to use a 132-foot long printer and recycled building material to make parts that become a five-story apartment building.
While apartment buildings aren’t being printed in Ohio, thanks to the rise of many smaller companies, nearly everything else is being made in the state. That’s the word from Ethan Karp, president and CEO of MAGNET and Tim Sweeney, director for advanced manufacturing and aerospace at JobsOhio.
“Ohio has the talent, the research, the R&D, but is also building a reputation as a place for additive manufacturing,” Sweeney says.
JobsOhio is a private, nonprofit economic development corporation that partners with the state of Ohio. It offers multiple resources, financial and nonfinancial, to assist businesses in locating or expanding, including its own financial incentives, which are separate from incentives the state may approve. A JobsOhio Workforce Grant is one example. To receive such a grant, a company has to commit to the job creation and other metrics including using the funds to improve worker skills and abilities in Ohio.
A regional partner of JobsOhio, MAGNET provides consulting services to help companies grow through increased productivity and process improvement programs.
It is a provider of Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) services funded by the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“So much of manufacturing flies under the radar because it is not the stuff you see every day,” Karp says. “Every industry is represented here and the amazing part about that is that the majority of these companies are small.
“They pay dramatically above the average going rate, somewhere around $60,000. Increasingly, these are automated factories, so they have tremendous amounts of technology embedded in them, and that’s what the jobs that are coming available are.”
Karp says one of Ohio’s premier strengths is the support given to manufacturing innovation.
“This is a big role that MAGNET has. We supply one-on-one consulting for companies to help them introduce new processes, or get access to an expert, or get extra capacity,” he says. “If they don’t have enough engineers, we can help supply them.”
MAGNET also leverages NASA scientists, the universities and the community colleges.
“We have a line of institutions that recognize the importance of manufacturing and are willing to lend a hand to have that innovation occur more in those small manufacturers,” Karp says.
Manufacturing education capital of America
Karp’s enthusiasm for manufacturing and education in the state doesn’t stop there. He would like Ohio to be the manufacturing education capital of the United States.
“The community college system that we have and the initiatives we’re doing here to help the major workforce shortage in manufacturing is tremendous,” Karp says. “There are new things going on every day, and that is a real strength.
“Even in additive manufacturing, we have helped design college curricula — so there is an education component for future workers that is very strong and getting stronger here.
Dave Pierson, senior design engineer at MAGNET, echoes those thoughts about the role of education.
“I will be talking to eighth to 10th graders about what manufacturing is and the fact that it is not a dirty, dingy, grimy place to work,” he says. “I work in a very clean office environment, where printers are running 5 feet away, and you can’t hear them.
“They are not disturbing my work. If we had a stamping press here, I don’t think we could say that.”
Getting high school students exposed to plant tours is a huge part of changing that perception, Karp says.
“We have done that over the last eight years but more than that we decided we need to recreate in a truly American fashion a European-style apprenticeship program,” he says. “We have big companies like Lincoln Electric and Swagelok signed up to pioneer with us, we are working with the Cleveland schools and other area schools to make it happen.
“This is envisioning … In five years we will have a pipeline of people that starts in ninth grade.”
OsteoSymbionics at forefront of integrating technology for craniofacial implants
OsteoSymbionics LLC, based in the Incubator at MAGNET in Cleveland, is a medical device company that uses additive manufacturing, art and science to create craniofacial implants for patients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and uses additive manufacturing processes, including special plastics, to form both hard tissue and soft tissue implants.
“They are doing some good things here with additive manufacturing,” says Dave Pierson, senior design engineer at MAGNET.
While specifics on the manufacturing are proprietary information, OsteoSymbionics’ CEO Dorothy Baunach says creating the devices for patients with damage to the face or skull due to injury, disease or deformity requires a very fine-tuned manufacturing process.
Surgeons rely on OsteoSymbionics to manufacture an implant that is a precise fit to ensure maximum protection for patients, she says.
A software modeling program called Freeform® 3-D allows OsteoSymbionics to create craniofacial implants quickly, moving from an STL-format file created from a patient-specific CT scan to a completed 3-D model in as little as a week.
“Machines don’t care how complex a piece is,” Pierson says about the freedom additive manufacturing brings from price and labor concerns. “I tell people complexity is free. With additive manufacturing, it doesn’t matter at all.”
Using the digital technology and custom software, the biomedical engineering experts work closely with classically trained sculptors and artisans to create implants that match both the surgeon’s plan and the patient’s needs. Those cases that require implants that are above average in size or are difficult to design are a specialty.
The company was founded in 2006 by Cynthia Brogan. Although she grew the company through sales as well as personal equity investment, by being in the Incubator at MAGNET, it received the several perks for growth. The Incubator receives funding from Ohio’s Edison Program, now part of the Ohio Third Frontier, which helps tech startups and early-stage tech companies.
OsteoSymbionics is also a member of BioOhio, an Edison/Third Frontier-funded organization providing networking connections and exposure.
The company received attention from President Barack Obama last year when he was in Cleveland to talk at The City Club. Obama visited the MAGNET facility and viewed some of the implants OsteoSymbionics is producing.
How to reach: OsteoSymbionics LLC, (877) 881-6899 or www.osteosymbionics.com
A need is filled
Fabrisonic illustrates how collaboration gave the spark to find AM solution
A company called Fabrisonic LLC was launched because a problem needed to be solved, and the timing was right for a collaborative effort to make it happen.
The problem was if a company uses traditional manufacturing techniques, it was nearly impossible to create complex designs within the metal to embed electronic sensors or components, items that were becoming more in demand.
It took a collaborative effort by EWI and the Ohio Third Frontier Wright Projects program — and a host of others, including Mark Norfolk, president and CEO of Fabrisonic, the company created to use the new solution to manufacturing.
“The team developed and built the first large-scale ultrasonic additive manufacturing system (now called the SonicLayer 7200),” he says. “As a result of the program, the team decided to create a new entity to commercialize the technology and Fabrisonic was formed.”
The UAM process involves building up solid metal objects through ultrasonically welding a succession of metal tapes into a 3-D shape. A solid metal product results, built layer-by-layer, allowing for unique combinations of metals that each retains its own properties.
“Our company was spun out of an Ohio Third Frontier program. The team was awarded a $2.6 million grant matched with $2.6 million of commercial money. It allowed us to develop our technology in a lower risk setting which eventually led to launching Fabrisonic,” Norfolk says.
Norfolk says Ohio’s manufacturing base makes it the ideal state for a 3-D printing business like Fabrisonic.
“Ohio has a great manufacturing history and a critical mass of manufacturing expertise. This makes Ohio a perfect place to grow a business around additive manufacturing.”
Region’s resources aid success
Kenny McDonald, president and chief economic officer, Columbus 2020, agrees that the Columbus region is home to world-class research, academic and professional institutions that benefit manufacturers through collaborative development and production.
Columbus2020 is the economic development organization for the Columbus region and partners with state and local entities to generate opportunity and build capacity for economic growth.
“EWI is the leading engineering and technology organization in North America dedicated to developing, testing and implementing advanced manufacturing technologies for industry,” he says. “There is also the Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest contract R&D organization that’s also a one-stop manufacturing and design source with extensive resources that support all stages of product development.”
In addition, the Columbus region is the star of the Midwest in job growth, population growth and educational attainment, and tops the country on many metrics as well, he says.