Additive Manufacturing Blog

10 Key Skills for Industrial 3D Printing

August 09, 2021 | Reading time: 4 min
With such a disruptive innovation as 3D printing, sector growth has happened much more quickly than the education offering for the workforce. To become Additive Manufacturing (AM) experts, employees need to re-skill or up-skill into new roles.

The know-how you need along the additive manufacturing process chain

Industrial 3D printing offers companies immense potential in the development of new applications. The knowledge needed ranges from basic understanding of the technology to selecting components for production, as well as design and engineering, to scaling and validating production.

We at Additive Minds Academy have made it our mission to enable people and organizations worldwide to use the potential of industrial 3D printing for responsible manufacturing

1. Understanding 3D technologies

First, those interested in additive manufacturing need a comprehensive overview of the stages of the process chain and the different technologies.

2. Design and simulation

Design is one of the most important parts of the additive manufacturing process chain. Without good design, every other stage is unpredictable. An educated and creative designer can greatly contribute to decreasing the consumption of powder, reducing build time, and lowering the overall cost-per-part, making them a vital part of the team. Designing 3D printed parts for real world use requires an in-depth knowledge of methodologies and guidelines and the possibilities and limitations in 3D printing, and how to apply this knowledge to design viable yet innovative parts.

3. Application engineering

To create a great application, you need to master both systems and software. To select the right quality part parameters for each case, you need knowlegde about process parameters such as Up-Skin, Core, Down-skin, overlapping and contours.

Proper part screening and selection are highly important. You need the skill set to decide, which part fits best economically and technically to grant AM success and profitability."

4. Process and materials

Each material has its unique properties and will behave differently in the process. Therefore, you need material specific parameter editor training to understand the values and the implications for data preparation. Furthermore, you will need to dig deeper into the exposure settings for hatch, contour and edge.

At the same time, you need to study the attributes of different materials and decide which material is best for which job. It is important to know which materials shrink or warp when processed and by learning about the qualities of our most common material types, you will gain a deeper understanding of the data preparation stage and its importance.

5. Data preparation skills

Understanding the data preparation process will enable you to optimize job preparation and reduce failed builds, contributing to build. You need to know how to design successful support structures, how to choose appropriate materials and how to select the most beneficial parameters for each part type. 

6. Machine operation

Before you can operate a system, you need intensive training on the safe and efficient operation of the machine itself and its peripherals. This includes the handling of the processing software, the set-up, job start and observation of the process and knowledge of the post-processing procedures as well as machine cleaning and maintenance.

7. Post-processing and surface finishing

Additive manufacturing is not only about designing and preparing your project for 3D printing. A distinguishing professional feature is the level of post-processing skills needed to make realistic and accurate model representations. Therefore, you need to know about different methods and technology to postprocess parts and be able to apply approaches of powder removal, cutting of parts from the platform as well as support removal and surface finishing methods.

8. Definition of quality

Recognize the definition of quality within the 3D printing industry and how to measure it during each stage of the process. You need to learn about quality criteria such as dimensional accuracy, tensile strength, hardness, density, and electrical conductivity.

9. Developing skills for business

Finally, you need to learn how to properly carry out a business case analysis. This will be the moment to integrate your knowledge of the entire process chain. Get to know the impact of key cost levers and how to reduce overall cost-per-part. You need to understand both the quantitative and qualitative side of the different types of business models and how to explain these to the many different stakeholders involved.

10. Distributed production

Before you start serial production, you should simulate your production using a digital twin. As a result, you can forecast the throughput and output of your production site based on the machine park equipment, operator shifts, machine maintenance procedures, etc.

Since the entire process chain from procurement to production is digitally synchronized and all machines are connected and communicate via IIoT platforms, you can easily align your production with local demands while significantly reducing transportation and storage costs. By distributed manufacturing, we mean globally distributed small and flexible production centers that produce where the customers are and where the demand arises.

Comprehensive training programs to grow your expertise

Whether you're a professional seeking further development, or a business and innovation leader seeking new talent to take advantage of the technical advancements, you need to get your workforce trained for these skills.

Additive Minds Academy has developed a comprehensive online training program to optimize onboarding processes and accelerate the knowledge buildup at the forefront of innovation. The portfolio consists of online courses and e-learnings for all levels of expertise making Additive Manufacturing knowledge available anytime, anywhere.

Author: Patrick Schrade