A new survey has revealed that, when it comes to additive manufacturing, manufacturers still have much to learn. More education, skills, and training are all crucial to realising the potential of additive manufacturing within their production operations.
These findings were announced by Essentium, Inc., a provider of industrial additive manufacturing (AM) solutions. It is the third such survey based on independent global research to be carried out on the company’s behalf examining the current and future use of industrial 3D printing.
Almost a third - 28% - of respondents reported their personnel lacked AM skills and emphasised the need for organisational change in order to be able to effectively implement AM in their manufacturing environment.
Notwithstanding continued optimism among manufacturing executives in the potential of industrial-scale 3D printing to save billions in manufacturing costs [90% agree], drive competitive advantage [84% agree], and provide economic advantage [85% agree], the research showed that realising this vision requires change and development throughout the workforce, from designers and engineers to finance and procurement.
The top needed organisational change cited was the expertise of designers [55%], followed by a shift in mindset by production teams [44%], and evolving procurement strategies [38%].
Almost a third of respondents [29%] said they wanted their finance teams to develop a deeper understanding of AM’s cost and value implications, while 26% said it was important to re-educate procurement teams on buying materials for 3D printing rather than focusing on the assets of components.
Addressing the AM skills gap is crucial to scaling AM. The survey is a strong signal to AM solution providers of the continuing need for targeted education and training. This includes enabling engineering designers to design for AM by adopting new principles to optimise a part’s functionality while reducing material, time, and cost.
“Realising the true value of industrial-scale additive manufacturing is highly dependent on a skilled manufacturing workforce that has the expertise to hone, advance, and support AM processes,” said Blake Teipel, CEO of Essentium.
Without a well-trained workforce capable of adapting to AM, organisations will not be capable of effectively taking advantage of and deploying AM processes in a way that benefits production, quality, innovation, and growth.
“We are supporting customers, partners, and universities as they respond to this urgent industrial need for an AM-ready workforce primed to transform the world of manufacturing and the products it creates for both competitive and economic advantage,” Teipel concluded.
Essentium manufactures and delivers industrial 3D printers and materials, enabling manufacturers to bridge the gap between 3D printing and machining. The company also provides education around procurement and finance strategies on new cost structures, and how AM will impact the supply chain. Essentium, Inc. is ISO 9001:2015 and ITAR certified.