Justin Wenning’s first interest in technical matters came at a young age. His father ran a family heating and air conditioning business.
“I did service calls with him when I was five years old,” Wenning said. “That got me wanting to know better ways to do things.” Years later, “I was his apprentice for several years growing up. That got me to being hands on, seeing what a design flaw really looks like in the field.”
Wenning decided to pursue engineering as a career, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in welding engineering from Ohio State University. He supplemented his education with work experience.
At Wayne Trail Technology (Fort Loramie, OH), part of Lincoln Electric Co., he was a welding engineering intern from May through August of 2013. Wenning dealt with “automation systems for MIG, laser, and resistance spot welding systems. That really broadened my scope. I was dealing with every problem they could throw my way during a very busy summer…They knew how to teach me how to logically work through problems and come up with creative solutions.”
He then became a welding engineering intern at Deere & Co., from May through August 2014. His duties included performing robot welding for FANUC MIG welding systems and tooling design for manual and robotic MIG welding systems.
Wenning then landed at his present job, 3D printing startup Fabrisonic LLC (Columbus, OH).
During his senior year, Wenning met Mark Norfolk, Fabrisonic’s founder and president, at a welding class. “He said he was looking for an intern.”
Wenning began this internship in January 2015 and concluded it when he graduated from Ohio State in May. He began full time at Fabrisonic in June 2015.
Fabrisonic was founded in 2011. The company uses Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) technology, in which ultrasonic vibration waves weld layers of metal foil. With UAM, metals aren’t heated above 93 degrees C. There is no melting and metals aren’t altered. Fabrisonic also sells custom 3D printing machines, performs custom additive-subtractive production as well as other 3D printing services.
“It is so different from every other additive technique out there,” Wenning said. “Everything we do is solid state, no melting, which allows us to do material combinations that other people didn’t find possible.”
Wenning said Fabrisonic has challenges but also a potentially bright future.
“All other 3D printing technologies have a 10-year head start on us. They have a lot more backers.” At the same time, “It’s extremely exciting to be here. It’s cool from that aspect of seeing it physically growing.”
What’s more, working at a small startup with fewer than 10 employees, provides experiences at multiple tasks.
“We wear every hat,” Wenning said. Mark Norfolk, the company president, “is on the road a lot” and Wenning said he at times has taken on such jobs as customer relations.
“I’m in at 7,” Wenning said, when asked to describe a typical work day. Employees review the previous day’s work and plan out the new day.
“I was in 7 to 9:30 [PM] two days. There are so many jobs I have going on.” Some days he mostly runs machines. “There’s always something to do here.”
At times, he has performed design engineering to improve Fabrisonic technology. He also has done research and development to improve the capability of UAM. “I actually redesigned part of our machine to improve upon the concepts.”
This article was first published in the July 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read all of the 2016 30 Under 30 Profiles as a PDF.