Youngstown Startup replaces old-school methods with cutting-edge 3D printing
When most people think of manufacturing, they think of a process that has existed for decades: pouring steel, assembly lines or handheld equipment. But at Youngstown’s JuggerBot 3D, a team of engineers is changing how people think about manufacturing’s high-tech revolution, and they’re doing it with 3D printers.
“We design and build the finest 3D printing solutions in the world,” said co-founder and president Zac DiVencenzo. “We want to create tools for the everyday engineer, technician or practitioner. We’re 3D-printing experts who partner very closely with materials companies to produce what they need, and our machines use a wide variety of materials for any solution.”
JuggerBot’s leaders call the company an additive manufacturing machine builder. They create products specifically designed for their customers’ needs, which range from tools for robot arms to prosthetics and medical devices. And while the phrase might be a mouthful, DiVencenzo says it’s much simpler to picture their 3D-printing technology than you might think.
“Material extrusion is like automating a hot glue gun — that’s how I’d explain it to my grandma,” said DiVencenzo. “It’s taking a hot glue gun and melting down plastic layer-by-layer. We load 3D models into our machines and slice those models into individual layers that our machines build.”
JuggerBot was formed when DiVencenzo and his co-founder Dan Fernback graduated from Youngstown State University. The pair weren’t sure where to turn, or whether they should leave Ohio to pursue their dreams. But thanks to the Youngstown Business Incubator, they found that JuggerBot’s ideal home was right in front of them.
“Coming out of college, we didn’t know how to start a company and didn’t know what to do,” said DiVencenzo. “But the Youngstown Business Incubator was known as being one of the leading innovation incubators associated with universities and became a partner with America Makes. When we realized that, we said, ‘Let’s do it here. This is perfect.’”
Five years later, JuggerBot has many customers and a reputation to match. They manufacture products made specifically for their customers’ needs and provide consulting and engineering services to help find solutions for companies who require intricate designs and improved machine performance. They’ve recently wrapped up a project developing biopolymers for Mercy Health, and are about to begin printing tires for Goodyear. DiVencenzo says it’s been gratifying to move from the “bootstrapping” early days of the startup to a more comfortable business environment where JuggerBot can take care of its employees and begin thinking about its next evolution.
“There’s really no ceiling or limit to what we can do,” DiVencenzo said. “We’re still a startup, but I think we’re like a mom-and-pop company now. We have employees, products, consistent revenue and expenses. Now, we’re positioning ourselves to take it to the next level and take that next leap.”
Whatever that leap may be, JuggerBot is enthusiastic about using its northeast Ohio roots to bring Youngstown’s manufacturing history into the 21st century. DiVencenzo said he values the entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit in the city and has found that other entrepreneurs in the area are gritty and determined. Between the support from organizations like the Youngstown Business Incubator and its reputation for manufacturing, northeast Ohio provides JuggerBot all it needs to grow.
“Even if Dan and I didn’t have our Youngstown roots, this would still be the perfect place for our company,” DiVencenzo said. “Every company has to assess the right location for their specific job. Youngstown is a hub for manufacturing and has a huge amount of industry that’s relevant and important to our business. We’re in an area where we can make a tremendous impact.”