SME Connect Seeks To Connect Professionals and Students With Additive Manufacturing

The Society for Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is well-known as a resource for engineers, students, and those working in manufacturing. It sponsors many industry events and tradeshows, such as RAPID TCT for 3D printing, WESTEC, and many others.

But fewer people are aware of the community forum that it runs, called SME Connect, that is available to members and non-members alike. Non-members cannot post to the forum, but they can view or read various content posted to it. Many SME members post useful information, but also link back to more details on sites outside of SME Connect as well. So it is often possible to keep up with industry information that you might otherwise miss.

NOTE: Of course, as the TEAMM Network is often involved with various SME events, we encourage those new to the industry to consider membership, too, because SME benefits extend far beyond the community forum.

To give you an idea of the range of topics and activity, we ran a few searches sorted on “most recent” on the main SME Connect page:

Materials Science: 181 results with 71 as events – that means that local chapters post news or other relevant information. There are often national competitions or challenges listed for a term. The remaining 110 (in this search total) are often user-generated posts that might be about a particular technology, a new methodology, or material testing process that another engineer or specialist might want to know about. Since the regional WESTEC show is upcoming in September, details and a link are posted on the community forum.

3D Printing: 103 results with 41 events. Again, it gives you an idea of local or regional activity as chapter meetings are often posted.

Additive Manufacturing (yes, it is often considered synonymous with 3D Printing, but some prefer the AM term and it yields far more additional good information): 556 results with 227 of the total as events. The #2 result is the big SME’s Digital Manufacturing Challenge coming up in February 2018; a good post to read if you are a student.

Technician Education: This search is obviously core to the TEAMM Network and is a growing area of interest for students and educators. It has 119 results with 48 as events. In this search, we found an event notice, held at the SME Toronto office, Impressions of RAPID 2017, about the popular RAPID TCT 3D Printing show that took place in Pittsburgh in May of this year. There is also a popular FAQ in this section that explains how to use the Connections community as a member so that you can find other members, post within the forum and create useful discussions, and technical topics such as searching for specific titles or filetypes.

So, if you find yourself needing more technical or specific information around additive manufacturing or materials science, take a look at SME Connect.

One last thing: You do have to register with email and a username/password, but again, the community forum is free to view or read.

TEAMM Network Member Creates Additive Manufacturing Studio

As Additive Manufacturing, aka 3D Printing, gains momentum in various industries, experts predict there will be a shortage of trained workers. According to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 9 out of 10 manufacturers are struggling to find the required skilled workers for 3D technologies and other manufacturing skills.

Dr. Ismail Fidan from Tennessee Technological University wants to bridge the 3D printing knowledge gap before it starts with a new “train the trainer” workshop called the Additive Manufacturing Studio aimed at STEM educators. The workshop is part of the National Science Foundation’s Additive Manufacturing Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH). It is funded by a grant that brings together the Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials (TEAMM) housed at Edmonds Community College, Tennessee Tech University, and Sinclair Community College.

From the program overview:

The Studio shares with faculty how to conduct AM courses and corresponding lab experiences and provides an active and cooperative learning environment.  The class has been highly successful on a national level.  Integrate the latest 3D printing technologies into your STEM curriculum.  You’ll build a printer and work on a project in class.  And, as an added incentive, you’ll take that printer back to your institution for use in your own programs!

In July, 15 educators in Washington State attended a workshop at Edmonds CC’s Materials Science lab in Monroe Hall. Most of them were from community or technical colleges, but four high school teachers participated as well. They learned how to build and use 3D printers.

Members of each institution will work together to develop curriculum and educational materials, professional development activities, outreach targeting K-12 teachers and students, and other efforts. TEAMM is housed at Edmonds CC and funded by the NSF Advanced Technological Education directorate.

According to Mel Cossette, TEAMM’s executive director and principal investigator, 3D printing is an emerging technology that will eventually be used in every sector of manufacturing industry, from aerospace to medical.

In addition to the workshop training at Monroe Hall, attendees were able to go on a factory tour of the Fathom 3D Printing Studio in Seattle.

Learn more about Summer 2018 workshops by emailing Robin Ballard at Or you can keep tabs on the TTU AM-WATCH website.

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.

Mark Your Calendar: Additive Aerospace Conference Scheduled

In its fifth year, the Additive Aerospace conference is scheduled for October 18 through 20, 2017 in downtown Los Angeles. With a major lineup of speakers from industry and government: NASA, FAA, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, GE, US Navy, US Air Force, and others will share their expertise about how additive manufacturing is advancing within the aerospace and aviation industries.

As an organization that supports materials science and additive manufacturing (and standards around both), the TEAMM Network is pleased to report that two of its members will be presenting on one of the event panels. Carl Dekker, owner of Met-L-Flo and the ASTM F42 Committee chairman and Pat A. Picariello, Director, Developmental Operations of ASTM International.

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The Power Of A 3D Printer In Business

With our jobs post, 3D Printing and Materials Skills In Demand, we had a number of conversations about entrepreneurial opportunities in the world of Additive Manufacturing. Since many new graduates from various materials science or additive manufacturing technician programs often contemplate starting their own 3D printing businesses, this post will take a look at some of the non-traditional paths that AM offers to the startup-mindset.

We mentioned 3D Hubs in the April 2017 AM News and it provides a good base of ideas for ways people are operating small print shops. 3D Hubs is an online network of 3D printer owners who operate as mini service bureaus to print parts for customers. It does an annual 3D printer guide (link at end of post) that is one of the best anywhere due to the fact that they have so many owners gathered in one place who are willing to provide input and feedback about their particular models. These are the super-users, the experts who are printing hundreds of objects over many hours, so they have invested a lot more time than the standard hobbyist.

Here is an ongoing, working list of business types that are actively building out 3D printing services to an existing business or a creating a new venture:

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