On the banks of the Mahoning River in Northeast Ohio, not far from where the first steel mill in the area once operated, sits a warehouse where the future of manufacturing is slowly taking shape.
A massive 3D printer fills the space: A 12-foot by 25-foot steel plate on the floor is surrounded by 8-foot steel walls, and on top, a beam holds what looks like a giant ballpoint pen. Proprietor Michael Garvey has been test-running the machine on large hunks of black plastic, which could eventually take the shape of anything from a boat hull to an airplane wing.
Although 3D printing is currently just a side project for Garvey, he plans to scale the business rapidly. He's already staked out a facility where he can put several more of these gigantic, room-sized printers, fed by melted-down plastic pellets, which he figures he can bring in by railcar loads.