3D Printing Continues Strong $6 Billion Growth Via Wohlers Report

Advances in 3D technology from 3D printing to materials science are driving amazing growth for the manufacturing industry and many others. According to Wohlers Report 2017, 97 manufacturers produced and sold additive manufacturing systems in 2016, up from 62 in 2015. The industry achieved worldwide revenues of $6.063 billion in 2016.

Earlier this month, the TEAMM Network met the day before RAPID + TCT 2017 started. As people arrived in Pittsburgh to meet at one of the largest 3D printing events in the world, we gathered to talk about how technician education continues to change as well as how community colleges across the nation are preparing students for careers in the fast-growing additive manufacturing world. Naturally, the conversations continued as various experts from the TEAMM Network later spent time wandering the show floor.

While there were many innovations and inventions announced at this year’s show, here are a few of the big items:

— Stratasys made several big announcements, including its strategic partnership with Desktop Metal, as well as a continuous build platform that offers a modular bank of printers that can operate with very little help from an operator. You can check it out here.

–HP made numerous announcements around its Jet Fusion 3D Printer which is impressive, to say the least. Seriously impressive.

MarkForged talks about its updates to its carbon fiber 3D printer and had its Metal X, a new metal 3D printer, in demo mode at the show.

Many desktop 3D printing leaders were there:

–Ultimaker showcasing its new and elegant Ultimaker 3 printer.

–The well-known and highly-rated MakerGear team was demonstrating its newest MakerGear M3.

Lulzbot had an active booth due to its ever-popular and easy-to-use TAZ printers, including its newest TAZ 6 and the Lulzbot Mini cranking away on fun projects.

Desktop Metal wowed the crowd with its innovative, and many say revolutionary, new metal 3D printer. It has a Studio System and a Production System.

–SmarTech Publishing had a booth where you could peruse one of their many reports, including a metals report showing almost $1B in revenues.

Impossible Objects (materials science experts)

CMU NextManufacturing Center had a presence to share the many cool things they are doing.

–Resin-based 3D printers were represented by Carbon and FormLabs.

As you can see from this short list alone, there are a ton of great companies showcasing exactly how 3D printing and related 3D tech is keeping the manufacturing industry on its toes. TEAMM Network members were excited to be in the midst of this event packed with almost 350 exhibitors — and the big opportunity they represent for additive manufacturing technicians coming out of college programs.

–An earlier version of this post appeared on Forbes.

Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) from Wohlers Associates with Olaf Diegel and Terry Wohlers

Wohlers Associates and Materialise recently announced a three-day Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) course. This exclusive course is limited to 25 participants and provides training and hands-on learning to understand and practice methods of design for AM. It includes the consolidation of many parts into fewer parts, topology optimization, lattice, mesh, cellular structures and other methods of design for AM.

The course is May 31 – June 2, 2017 at the Materialise headquarters location in Leuven, Belgium. Wohlers Associates has twice offered a similar course for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, which received high marks for its effectiveness.

Associate consultant Olaf Diegel, PhD, will serve as the lead instructor. His rare combination of experience with both conventional design and manufacturing and DfAM makes him one of very few people capable of leading quality DfAM instruction and hands-on learning. “Olaf has created more than 80 commercial products and is an engaging instructor, making him ideal for the course,” Wohlers stated. “The people at NASA had great things to say about him.”

Wohlers Associates is an independent consulting firm that provides technical, market, and strategic advice on the new developments and trends in additive manufacturing, 3D printing, and rapid product development. Most TEAMM Collaboration Network members are familiar with the eponymous Wohlers Report that is published annually.

More details on the course are available at the Wohlers Associates site. It is a packed three days of learning, here is a glimpse of the program outline:

Day 1

  • Introduction to AM, the State of the AM Industry
  • AM Process: from CAD to Part
  • Introduction to Design for AM
  • Introduction to Part Consolidation
  • Part Consolidation Exercise
  • Design for Mass-Customization Exercise

Day 2   

  • AM Process: from CAD to Part
  • Materialise Tour
  • Designing for Metal AM
  • Topology Optimization and Mesh/Lattice Structures

Day 3   

  • Design for Other AM Processes
  • Tooling Applications of AM
  • Lead Time Reduction
  • Economics of AM
  • Panel Session
  • AM in the Near Future

This special, advanced course from Wohlers and Materialise is aimed at industry professionals. For the student or teacher seeking lessons that range from intro to intermediate needs, head to the TEAMM Modules page where you’ll find specific curriculum to help in your additive manufacturing courses. For example, two intermediate courses: 3D Printing In The Classroom and 3-D Spatial Visualization Skill Building for Additive Manufacturing are available for download as PDF, PPT or ZIP files. More Additive Manufacturing and Materials Science course resources are available at the Materials Education site.

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.