Introducing The AM News ‘Editor’s Corner’ Column

AM News is adding a new section called the Editor’s Corner. This new section will provide a way for us to share a variety of resources, links, projects, and other stories that we come across in our research for this site. TJ McCue, our editor, will begin sharing some personalized posts this week.

TJ here: In my work on various National Science Foundation (NSF) projects, particularly here on TEAMM and AM News, I am constantly researching and reviewing a wide range of topics that matter for technician education, materials science, and additive manufacturing. I am active in the industries that touch our educational efforts having worked as a consultant or contractor for many of the large brands that you know and love.

I have put pen to paper for a number of publications you know as well, from the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and currently Forbes in their Innovation and Consumer Tech section. I spent almost a full year on the road for a large national project known as 3DRV where I traveled the USA researching and reporting on 3D printing and 3D scanning. All that said, I am passionate about this space and care deeply about how we educate our young people to keep them ready for the future of work.

Every year, there are conferences and events that capture our attention and time. Depending on your specialties, you may visit an event focused on Materials Science, STEM Education, or 3D Printing, to name just a few that are of interest to our readers here. 

TEAMM was part of the annual M-STEM event held last year at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. The event is sponsored by the National Science Foundation as part of an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) with MatEdU, our sister organization at Edmonds Community College. If you have not visited before, MatEdU is a clearinghouse of teaching materials including labs, hands-on demonstrations, modules and papers, which can easily be integrated into a variety of courses, class-room settings, and industry. 

At the M-STEM event, two graduate students presented (and won) an award for their work at Tennessee Tech University building a mobile 3D printer. It can work with a variety of materials from cake frosting (you read that right) to cement to paint. You can check out the YouTube video here. Although they were not present at M-STEM, TEAMM Network Member, Somerset Community College, is doing some amazing 3D printing work as well converting a $450 polymer (FFF) machine into a metal 3D printer.

If you have not visited MatEdU before, it is a clearinghouse of teaching materials including labs, hands-on demonstrations, modules and papers, which can easily be integrated into a variety of courses, class-room settings, and industry. 

An event to mark on your calendars for April 20 – 23, 2020 is probably one of the best-known conferences for 3D (celebrating its 30th Year): RAPID + TCT, the largest 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing event in North America (scroll down on that page to find student and educator discounts).

I’ll be attending this year’s RAPID+TCT event in Anaheim, California and will be reporting back to you on some of the developments for education, as well as advances in Medical Additive Manufacturing (AM), and new AM Startups (this section is not published yet) shaking up the already fast-moving world of 3D printing. Plus, there is a Student Summit

One of the goals of this new section is to give a shout out to various organizations, colleges and universities, companies, and other resources that can help you in your work with students and the public at large. Some weeks, it might be a long list; other weeks I might only have one item to share with you. 

This week I wanted to draw your attention to an affordable, do-it-yourself type microscope known as the Foldscope. According to the website, Foldscope was “invented by Manu Prakash and Jim Cybulski who asked themselves: What is the best microscope you can build for under $1 in parts?

Image Courtesy: Foldscope.com

“Their inspiration for the Foldscope originated from field visits around the world, where they continually encountered bulky, broken microscopes, or a lack of microscopes entirely. As traditional microscopes are often expensive or cumbersome, they realized the universal scale of this problem and the need for a low-cost, revolutionary solution.”

At the end of 2019, one million Foldscopes were found in the wild helping children and adults become citizen scientists.

May your weekend be filled with all the good materials.

NOTE: The Foldscope is made up of common, easy to get and affordable materials, however on their website a deluxe microscope sells for around $30 for one unit. I presume this is partly to fund other parts of the initiative. They sell a classroom kit of $20 that works out to a bit over $1.75 per unit. Still a deal.

An earlier version of this post was published at Medium.  

Wohlers Report 2019 Academic Activities Chapter By Dr. Ismail Fidan

Dr. Ismail Fidan from Tennessee Tech University is in the news often. The engineering department professor is actively serving the AM community; from his students at TTU to the larger group of professionals and analysts who read the annual Wohlers Report. Dr. Fidan contributes a thorough chapter each year on the activities and capabilities within academia.

He notes there is a strong and growing demand for workers trained in additive manufacturing. There are many colleges and universities adding certificates and degrees centered on AM processes. Many of these institutions are conducting research and forming industry-level partnerships within AM.

In the report, he states, “Professional survey results and interviews suggest that skill sets developed using AM technologies are vital for graduating students who are entering the workforce. In response to the growing opportunities in the AM job market, interest among students in AM-related design and manufacturing courses has increased significantly.”

“AM provides students with the opportunity to take their designs to the next level by allowing them to get involved in the fabrication stage. In response to this need, the number  of newly established AM- based makerspaces and innovation institutes around the world has grown significantly.”

As a TEAMM Network member, Dr. Fidan is committed to technician education. In approximately 15 pages, in the Academic activities and capabilities chapter, he chronicles the many academic projects and initiatives taking place around the world. It is a veritable Who’s Who in additive manufacturing.

According to his Wohlers Report 2019 chapter, there are 125 academic institutions and 14 research institutes listed along with short summaries of the areas of focus, including the individuals to contact. The 125 academic institutions are located in the following regions:

      • 28 in Asia/Pacific
      • 34 in Europe
      • 57 in North America
      • 6 in Africa and South America

Dr. Fidan has served as a member of the Wohlers Report team for the last three years. In his role, he collects and reports on the worldwide academic AM practices, trends, and innovations. Currently, he is one of the associate authors of the report. TEAMM continues to look to Dr. Ismail Fidan for his thought leadership within AM and education.

TEAMM Network Principal Investigator Mel Cossette Reports On Materials Education

According to Forbes and the Wohlers Report 2019, the additive manufacturing forecast for 2020 is $15.8 billion for all AM products and services worldwide. The company expects that revenue forecast to climb to $23.9 billion in 2022, and $35.6 billion in 2024.

Mel Cossette at Edmonds Workshop

This year the report is at 369 pages. Wohlers Report 2019 draws upon expertise of 80 authors and contributors located in 32 countries. Wohlers Associates also received input from 127 service providers, 71 manufacturers of industrial systems, and 30 producers of desktop 3D printers and third-party materials around the world. It is filled with insights and data, such as,

  • Benefits and challenges of designing for AM
  • The overall materials segment of the industry saw record growth in 2018. A great deal of research and development was carried out in this area in 2018, particularly on high-performance thermoplastics.

Among the important trends, particularly relevant to the Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials (TEAMM), are knowledge and skills development, and materials development, as well as industry standards. In addition to these AM trends, among the 80 authors in the report, the TEAMM Network’s Principal Investigator, Mel Cossette, contributed a section within Part 7: Research and Development of the Wohlers Report 2019.

Ms. Cossette provided an overview of the TEAMM project summarizing some of its work over the last year, including:

      • “The role of materials development in advancing AM process capabilities is vital. With newly developed materials available for 3D printing, it is important for AM technicians to understand the properties they can provide.”
      • Highlights of TEAMM’s work with the AM News blog on the 4TEAMM.org website.
      • The TEAMM Network facilitates the delivery of annual workshops and presentations focused on AM and materials.
      • TEAMM and Tennessee Tech collaborated with Purdue University to develop and present a virtual reality curriculum using VR as a tool to teach AM.

Edmonds VR Workshop

With the AM industry on a radical growth curve, heading toward a big jump in overall revenue of $15.8 billion for all AM products and services worldwide in 2020, TEAMM and its Network partners are in a good place for serving the needs of AM and Materials Science technicians.

NOTE: Wohlers Associates is also a TEAMM Network member.

Met-L-Flo Adds Value To Technician Education In AM

With its heritage as the second largest manufacturing city in the U.S., for much of the 20th century, Chicago was well known for metal fabrication. Although large manufacturing plants with booming smokestacks are a stereotypical image for the industry, much of America’s manufacturing output came from small and midsize family-owned businesses. Their impact was far from small: From electrical machinery to iron and steel products, machine tools to fabricated metals, Chicago sold manufactured goods all over the world.

UPDATE 15APR: At AMUG this year, Met-L-Flo tied for First Place with its entry of the “Master Chief” print. Congratulations to Bill Braune and the team.

Met-L-Flo ties for First Place Award at AMUG 2019 with "Master Chief"
Met-L-Flo ties for First Place Award at AMUG 2019 with “Master Chief”

As manufacturing shifts to more advanced methods, it is not surprising to find that only an hour straight west of Chicago sits a well-known voice in the world of additive manufacturing (AM). Met-L-Flo is a 3D printing and rapid prototyping service bureau headed by Carl Dekker, President of the company, and active advocate in two of the most prominent AM organizations: the ASTM F42 Committee and the Additive Manufacturing Users Group known as AMUG.

AMUG Board 2018 2019
Newly elected AMUG Board. Front row (L to R): Mark Barfoot, Leslie Frost, Carl Dekker and Tom Sorovetz. Back row (L to R): Vince Anewenter, Jamie Cone, Paul Bates, Todd Grimm and Gary Rabinovitzrof
   Note: You can read the full news post on the AMUG Board here.

Met-L-Flo Engineering was founded in 1969 as a consulting firm for the metal forging industry. Carl Dekker, current president of the company, introduced Additive Manufacturing in 1991 and Met-L-Flo, the service bureau, was born. The service company offers a wide range of rapid prototyping methods; rotational molding/casting, fiber-reinforced plastics, composites, and vacuum/thermoforming. Their services also include most of the leading additive technologies (3D Printing) in SLA, SLS, FDM, Direct Metal and Polyjet.

Carl served as the Chairman and Past Chairman (current) on the ASTM Committee F42. He is now serving as a vice president for AMUG.  With a background in additive manufacturing and his work on international standards, it makes a lot of sense that Carl would join the TEAMM Coordination Network.

With the Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials (TEAMM) project working to address critical gaps in technician education involving additive and materials science, having someone deeply familiar with the ASTM skills standards is essential to helping support the TEAMM Network. We are happy to have Carl and Met-L-Flo involved and sharing the value of higher skills for technicians.

TEAMM Network Member Dr. Ismail Fidan Profiled In News

At TEAMM and AM News, we like to celebrate when our members receive recognition for their accomplishments. Recently, Dr. Ismail Fidan from Tennessee Tech University (TTU) was profiled in the regional newspaper, the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, for being a researcher focused on how additive manufacturing is making an impact on everyday life.

Dr. Ismail Fidan profiled in Cookeville Herald-Citizen

The article highlighted that, “Fidan Is working towards securing his 10th grant funded by the National Science Foundation, which would bring the amount of grants funded for his research to more than $4.6 million during his time at TTU, all related to additive manufacturing. He has been working in the field for nearly 15 years.”

The profile also mentions how he has worked “with other institutions to establish an additive manufacturing laboratory framework, including a smartphone app that helps institutions work together, collaborate and share resources for 3D printing projects.” This includes the AM lab at Edmonds Community College.

AM News, of course, has written about the importance of Dr. Fidan’s Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Virtual Lecture Series (SEE NOTE for last two events for Spring 2019 below), a web-based presentation series given by national and international experts in additive manufacturing. So far, the series has trained more than 500 people in the diverse applications of additive manufactur­ing. In addition to these web-based lectures, Fidan organizes an annual workshop on additive manufacturing to address gaps in the current knowledge base of technicians through the development of curriculum and educational materials and sup­port to more than 30 community college and high school instructors per year.

There is still time to join in on the final two lectures (click that above link for more info OR you can click this Zoom link in any web browser at 11am U.S. Central Standard Time):

      • Thursday, March 28: Preparing Your Model for 3D Printing with Adam Wills, Master II Instructor, Computer Aided Design Technology, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Nashville
      • Thursday, April 18: Project iGen: Using Additive Manufacturing for Service Learning with Amy Fricks, Math Teacher, DeKalb County High School, Tennessee.

You can also peruse the entire 2016 through 2018 Additively Innovative Lecture Series archive here.

Hats off to Dr. Fidan for the recent media mention as well as his commitment to the combination of additive manufacturing and technician education.