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3D printer firm being relocated to Fargo; 50 people to be hired

Gov. Doug Burgum 1 / 3
Illustration by Troy Becker / Forum News Service2 / 3
Ron Bergan announces Wednesday, Dec. 18, during a press conference in Richard H. Barry Hall, 811 2nd Ave. N., Fargo, the relocation of his newly acquired LulzBot 3-D printer company to Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor 3 / 3

FARGO — A 3D printer manufacturing company is being relocated to Fargo, bringing at least another 50 jobs to the area, Gov. Doug Burgum announced Wednesday, Dec. 18, at a news conference at North Dakota State University's downtown Richard H. Barry Hall.

Burgum said the manufacturing and business operations of Aleph Objects Inc., which makes LulzBot printers, were acquired in November by Fargo Additive Manufacturing Equipment 3D LLC.

FAME 3D is owned by longtime Fargo entrepreneur Ron Bergan.

Thirteen of the original Aleph Objects employees will relocate to Fargo, and FAME 3D plans to hire 50 new employees as soon as possible for light assembly, customer service, support and other positions, with training offered, Bergan said.

The governor said he expects the company will create "dozens and dozens of jobs" for the Fargo area, which has been cited for its healthy job market.

Burgum said 3D printing is an exciting area for manufacturing and materials science, leading to innovation in alloys, ceramics, plastics and other materials for a wide range of industries, including agriculture, aviation, transportation, manufacturing and medical devices. The explosion in modern computing power combined with 3D printers "will change everything," he said.

The printers also reduce complexity in manufacturing, allowing creation of parts and machines virtually anywhere.

"This micro-manufacturing is going to completely change the supply chain," Burgum said. "To me, this is as exciting as it gets. ... It is absolutely incredible."

To accommodate the LulzBot manufacturing line, FAME 3D is outfitting the vacant building at 1001 25th St. N, the former corporate headquarters for Vanity clothing. The building is in one of 25 areas of North Dakota that Burgum designated in April 2018 as Opportunity Zones under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Bergan sold Fargo Assembly Co. in 2017 after owning the business with his wife, Mary Alice, for 42 years.

Bergan said FAME 3D has begun setting up an assembly line in Fargo and hopes to be operating after the New Year. He said assemblers and other positions will be hired and trained as quickly as possible. He said starting assemblers may earn about $12 an hour.

In the meantime, Bergan said 3D printers will continue to be built in Colorado through the end of January.

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Aleph Objects was founded in 2011 and was based in Loveland, Colo. The company employed 113 people before running into financial difficulties.

In November, FAME 3D acquired all assets of Aleph Objects Inc. with the intent to move all business functions to Fargo. Bergan said he had to act on the deal quickly, in order to keep printer production from being interrupted or having the company close its doors, which could have led to a loss of customers and market share.

He said he hopes to grow the 3D printer business beyond its peak in Colorado.

Bergan said the 3D printers used at Fargo Assembly were reliable, despite being run 21 hours a day.

"We ran them hard," Bergan said.

There are three models of LulzBots, running from about $1,500 for the smallest, to about $5,000 for the largest models, Bergan said. He said the company is now working on a prototype "bio" printer, to make materials that can be used in medical applications. A high heat printer is also in development for use with materials that melt at high temperatures, he said.

"We need people to build the printers," Bergan said, adding, "This should be an interesting venture going forward."

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