There is a Scarcity of Skilled Labor with Additive Manufacturing Knowledge.
Recently, we attended the most significant professional 3D printing conference of the year, The Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) event in St. Louis, Missouri. During our time there, we had the opportunity to discuss the lack of skilled labor with additive manufacturing knowledge.
The Majority of Engineers Don’t Know Enough About 3D Printing
Traditional machining has been taught and standardized for decades, but the majority of engineers today are unaware of how to design parts that are optimized for additive manufacturing processes. This slows companies’ abilities to implement 3D printing in any capacity. The majority of engineers do not know when 3D printing could be a good fit for a component, or how existing designs could be modified to be 3D-printable. The conversation of sessions we attended generally shifted towards a consensus that 3D printing should be taught in schools, particularly in higher education.
College Classes Haven’t Caught Up
Today, higher education programs specializing in 3D printing are just starting to emerge. Some community colleges, and some masters-level programs were mentioned, but there are very few to choose from. At one session, Stratasys revealed they have been partnering with some universities to implement training courses for 3D printing, to be a class offering as part of an engineering curriculum. The Stratasys Certification Program aims to help develop the workforce with 3D printing-knowledgeable engineers. As the 3D printing industry grows, so will the need for skilled workers to create and maintain the technology.