For many years, 3D Printing was an abstract concept. The technology “could” be used to advance innovation, streamline design cycles, and power manufacturing, but there was little or no proof. Industries started to explore how to align additive manufacturing across business, but there were few use-cases to lean on. Fast-forward to present day and industrial-grade additive manufacturing is having a real and significant impact on markets ranging from aerospace to consumer packaged goods. But with this maturity comes an entirely new set of challenges.
The industry is at a place where 3D printing can actually reshape traditional manufacturing processes. As proven by Stratasys use-cases, the technology is quite effective at disrupting legacy models to boost innovation and design, power time-to-market. and accelerate revenue. But be careful – there’s still a ton of work to be done in education and training to bridge the gap between industry and academia.
The new Deloitte Insights report (co-authored by Stratasys and the Lanterman Group) stresses the critical nature of collaboration across business and education environments. Only by working together can the two better prepare and train the next-generation of additive manufacturing talent - effectively scaling AM into production uses. Based on countless interviews with both academics and industry experts, the piece analyzes best approaches to achieving a highly-capable additive manufacturing workforce through education.
Deloitte’s report notes today’s educational institutions are in a unique position to bridge this skills gap. Tools at their disposal include curriculum development, construction of world-class facilities, cutting-edge research, and accelerated internships – each exposing students to the right AM technology, know-how and real-world implementations. The missing element is real and long-lasting partnerships across industry leaders, educators, and even students.
But good news - the market is well aware of this gap, and seems willing to advance both design and process knowledge. To make this possible, both market and academic leaders must start directly focusing on five “musts” in workforce evolution:
- Multi-disciplinary understanding of core AM knowledge sets, including material science, design and engineering
- Robust design education and knowledge – specifically Design-for-AM (DfAM)
- Programs to nurture powerful and innovative thinkers
- Awareness of AM’s link to transforming legacy manufacturing processes
- Construction of a business-case and ROI mindset
And while there’s no single approach to fit every circumstance, there are readily available methodologies, approaches and strategies that every company and academic institution CAN and SHOULD adopt – moving from opportunity to implementation. Now’s the time for each to step back and uncover the best approaches to connecting and collaborating with one another. That’s the only way true transformation is possible.