VR Lab at The FACILITY Makerspace at Edmonds Community College

Edmonds Community College is known for its work in training technicians in additive manufacturing and materials science. Now they are adding a project to an existing on-campus makerspace that will expand its value to students and the community: A Virtual Reality (VR) Lab.

Many colleges and universities around the nation and the world have makerspaces, but most are available only to students. Edmonds Community College takes a wider view and started THE FACILITY as a community-based makerspace in addition to student access.

According to the website: “The FACILITY is housed in Monroe Hall, (an 11,000 square foot building with state-of-the-art equipment) to the local community and provides a collaborative space where ordinary people with extraordinary ideas can come together and gain access to the tools, training, and community you need to turn your thoughts into things.

“The FACILITY is based on a DIY philosophy and the launch of our Rapid Proto Lab gives you hands on access to the most essential, exciting, and versatile Makerspace equipment: a Laser Cutter, 3D Printers, a CNC Router, and 3D Scanners. This is a game changing opportunity for Makers of all kinds: artists, inventors, entrepreneurs, students, educators, hobbyists, side-giggers, and world changers.”

Now, thanks to collaboration in another National Science Foundation grant (the college is already known for its national Materials Science education website known as MatEdU), and in partnership with Purdue University, “the college is working on developing an innovative multi-modal VR framework for Digital Manufacturing instruction. One of the priorities is to establish a VR Immersion Lab that can provide design and development opportunities to the local community, and collaboration with other makerspaces, as part of The FACILITY,” David Voetmann, director of The FACILITY, said.

Stay tuned for more immersive experiences and news.

3D Printing and Materials Skills In Demand

Over the last couple of months, we have been studying the job market to see if 3D printing skills were in demand. As you would have guessed, they are in high demand. In fact, most experts agree we have a shortage of skilled workers in additive manufacturing.

According to the World Economic Forum, the organization sees both positive and negative in 3D/AM employment trends for 2015-2020. WEF notes an overall negative number (-3.6%) in manufacturing job growth, but for architecture and engineering, however, they show 3.3 percent growth.

Based on the TEAMM network goal of helping technicians understand material properties both individually and as they are combined during the AM process, we wanted to look at what the job marketplace was looking for. Here are a few simple nationwide findings that show promise (as of this April 24, 2017 posting):

LinkedIn:

  • 587 jobs with 3D Printing in description or title. Most of them posted in the last month.
  • 298 LinkedIn jobs with Additive Manufacturing in description or title.
  • 1,567 LinkedIn jobs with Materials Science in description or title.

Monster.com: 

  • 600 Jobs with Additive Manufacturing in title or description
  • 918 Jobs with 3D Printing in title or description
  • 1,000+ Jobs with Materials Science in title or description

Indeed.com:

  • 912 Jobs with Additive Manufacturing in title or description
  • 1,067 Jobs with 3D Printing in title or description
  • 2,440 Jobs with Materials Science in title or description

In his post, 3D Printing Skills Is Accelerating Globally Forbes contributor Louis Columbus showed that the number of job advertisements calling for 3D printing skills increased 1,834% between August 2010 and August 2014, with industrial engineers, mechanical engineers, software developers, and industrial designers among the most sought-after professionals. It increased 103% when comparing August 2014 to August 2013.

Based on his post, and to broaden the perspective beyond traditional 9 to 5 jobs, there is also a growing need and interest in project-based or freelance, on-demand work opportunities for those who earn and rent out time on their 3D printers.

In April 2017, we turned to the 3D Hubs platform for that data:

  • 781,498 parts printed
  • 48 hours avg. turnaround time
  • 6,938 services listed online (totaling over 30,000 printers in use on the worldwide network)

The freelancer platform Upwork has over 200 open 3D Printing Projects listed

CAD Crowd has 300+ 3D printing freelance experts and provides a global map of their locations. There are over 14,000 designers from around the world listed on this site. Important to note: These are freelancers, not job listings. However, given the increasing growth in contract work, this is a significant trend to track.

Overall, there is solid growth within the type of education and training that TEAMM Network members offer to their respective communities. As our members could have probably told the “experts” – there is a huge need for skilled technical workers in additive manufacturing and materials science.

University of Washington Hosts Functional Materials and AM Symposium

Materials science is on the move at many universities and colleges across the nation. The University of Washington created the Advanced Materials & Additive Manufacturing (AM) Initiative and held their inaugural 3D Printing Symposium last March (2016) as a one day event.

Last year’s event had over 100 attendees with 28 percent industry and 72 percent UW students, faculty or alumni. They plan to continue the event this year, but expand it to a 2-day event this June 22 – 23, 2017.

The Additive Manufacturing and Functional Materials Symposium will bring together an international audience to discuss the cutting edge of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. It will focus on the interface between AM and functional polymeric materials.
Confirmed speakers include:

  • Annalisa Chioppone (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)
  • Michael Dickey (NC State)
  • Igor Drstvenšek (University of Maribor)
  • Howon Lee (Rutgers)
  • Michael McAlpine (UMN)
  • Alshakim Nelson (UW-Seattle)
  • Eujin Pei (Brunel University London)
  • Kristina Shea (ETH Zurich)
  • Scott Phillips (Penn State University)

Registration is $50 for regular admission; $25 for students.
More details will be posted here.

In addition to the materials-focused event, under the same Advanced Materials & Additive Manufacturing Initiative, the University also held a Printed Electronics Summit earlier this month. You can read about it here.

Senvol Database Helps Technicians Understand Materials

As industrial additive manufacturing continues to grow, it is more and more difficult to keep up with the materials and machines. Enter the Senvol Database.

Users can search this publicly available and free online database with over 30 fields, such as machine build size, material type, and material tensile strength. The sheer quantity and dynamic nature of the search fields enable users to search in powerful ways and to quickly get the information that they need.

The database is in use by Fortune 500 companies and government agencies in Industries such as Aerospace, Oil and Gas, Consumer Products, and Automotive. According to the website, Senvol developed the database as an internal tool initially: “For client projects, we frequently found ourselves asking questions such as ‘Which machines take titanium?’ or ‘Which polymers have a tensile strength of at least 50 MPa?’ There was no easy way to find answers to these questions, however, and we were tired of sifting through hundreds of pages of spec sheets! As a result, we created the Senvol Database to solve this problem.

“Once the database was completed, we quickly realize that it was quite powerful and that it could be of great value to the entire industry. With that in mind, we put the Senvol Database on our website so that everyone can use it.”

The database includes all industrial (that is, professional-grade) manufacturing machines and materials. The database does not include desktop machines or materials.

Senvol Database Learning Tools

Senvol recently created hypothetical scenarios that allow a user to learn about AM machines and material selection. The learning tool exercises help AM users get the most out of the powerful search features of the Senvol Database by introducing various ways to narrow down the options, such as by analyzing machine and material compatibility, build envelope size, total cost of ownership, and mechanical properties.  The learning tool exercises, like the Senvol Database, are online and free to use.

You can also download the Additive Manufacturing and Materials Learning Tool Exercises as a PDF.

Materials Science and Additive Manufacturing Technology Convergence

As we launch into 2017, a look back at some of the additive manufacturing highlights in 2016 were summarized well on the Diamandis tech blog written by X Prize Foundation founder, Peter Diamandis, who frequently talks about materials science and AM.

The post (and video embedded below) is from a talk by Jeff Carbeck who presented at the Abundance annual event (also run by Diamandis) and he shared some materials science predictions for 2016 through 2018.

Like many of us in the TEAMM Network, Diamandis and Carbeck see the huge potential materials science presents for Additive Manufacturing. The opportunity for manufacturing professionals and students is to track the way that technology leaders, like Diamandis, and others in Silicon Valley (and tech centers around the world) are studying it. The fusion of technology and materials is daily increasing leaving us with new ways to manufacture everything from autos to airplanes.

You can read his full post here: Materials Science Technology Convergence. Or watch this terrific materials science video (by Jeff Carbeck):

Last, Diamandis maintains a Facebook page that is mostly dedicated to how materials science and manufacturing technology connect (some of it may be more mat sci specific, but often it has to do with making things, manufacturing).