In 2019, Jon Rehwaldt launched The Workbench Fort Wayne as a Northeast Indiana resource for entrepreneurs to design and prototype physical products for manufacturing. Focusing on digital design and fabrication, prototyping, and computerized production, the company provides space, equipment, and services to aid entrepreneurs in bringing their ideas to 3D reality. The Workbench is located […]
In 2019, Jon Rehwaldt launched The Workbench Fort Wayne as a Northeast Indiana resource for entrepreneurs to design and prototype physical products for manufacturing. Focusing on digital design and fabrication, prototyping, and computerized production, the company provides space, equipment, and services to aid entrepreneurs in bringing their ideas to 3D reality.
The Workbench is located on the city’s Southeast side, at 1830 Wayne Trace in the SEED Enterprise Center.
“The Southeast feels like Downtown did in 2009,” said Rehwaldt. “It’s hard to explain, but there is tremendous energy here, waiting to transform this part of the community.”
This year, The Workbench joined another wider community, with the other makers and tinkerers who fought the spread of COVID-19 by making face masks and face shields for health care workers and first responders.
“While we started out using one 3D printer and sewing machine to do the same [work], it became clear that our time was better spent consulting with people who were designing items to aid health systems worldwide,” Rehwaldt said.
After regional manufacturers took over the mask and shield production, The Workbench pivoted to supplementary assistance that included designing and reviewing components for teams around the world, pressure analysis and compiling results for use by teams designing emergency ventilators and PPE. (The Open Source Medical Supplies organization has compiled and made available research and analysis information on their Facebook page: OpenSourceMedical Supplies.)
“One of the best things that we contributed to was a database of mask filter materials and their compliance to standards,” Rehwaldt said. “Wearing a mask helps contain the spread of COVID-19, and the data on that is conclusive. Everyone should be wearing masks in public.”
Most of the Workbench’s clients are from healthcare, which follows national trends for startups, according to Rehwaldt, who noted that his company primarily works with women on projects inside their expertise. “They see a problem, are ready to solve it, and want to work hard on building something.” Since the company focuses on manufacturing, their clients make physical goods.
Motorsports is a niche The Workbench wants to cater to, but new equipment is needed to compete.
In 2007, Rehwaldt moved to Fort Wayne to teach and coach at Concordia Lutheran High School. He still scratches that teaching itch as an instructor for the SEED’s Build Institute Fort Wayne program for rookie entrepreneurs. “That first few weeks of figuring out how to make a business work is such a great journey,” he said, “and it’s been awesome to be involved with so many businesses getting their start in Fort Wayne.”
For more information about The Workbench, visit their website at TheWorkBenchFW.com.