Bridging the Workforce Development Gap with Additive Manufacturing Education

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Bridging the Workforce Development Gap with Additive Manufacturing Education

Recording the statistics coming out of an industry is the best way to feel the pulse and measure the industry’s growth. And the statistics coming out of the additive manufacturing industry are great!

This is due to the ability of the 3D printer to be integrated into any industry or activity that requires manufacturing, thereby increasing the purchase of 3D printers exponentially.

According to Forbes statistics, 64% of the A&D companies worldwide currently use 3D printing in production while early users have scaled up their commitment to additive manufacturing by 70%. This belies the effectiveness of the 3D printer in production cycles and its ability to help companies save cost.

But with all this great news comes some problems, and the most important issue companies looking to integrate additive manufacturing face, is the struggle to find professionals to add to their workforce.

To bridge the gap in the workforce means colleges and trade schools must consider integrating additive manufacturing courses into their curriculum in order to develop ready-made professionals.

Understanding the need for a professional workforce for the additive manufacturing industry, the Kirkwood Community College has created a 3D printing course for students in its Mechanical engineering program.

This coupled with other informal courses which can be found on Udemy and other e-learning platforms are the few certified 3D printing courses available to an industry consisting of hundreds of thousands.

Making the Case for Additive Manufacturing in Secondary Institutions

Capturing the interest of students at a young age is the best way to go where additive manufacturing is concerned. This is why it has been recommended that 3D printing should be added to the STEM curriculum for high schoolers as a way to prepare them for the workspace of the future.

There are great and very affordable 3D printer options for kids which middle and high school management can consider purchasing for use. Some options below $300 include:

- Creality 10s

- WanHao Duplicator i3

- Creality Ender 3 etc.

And for tips on setting up an additive manufacturing facility, here is a simple guide that should prove helpful if your school is ready to make the decision. These facilities will enhance STEM studies while getting students interested in additive manufacturing as they grow older.

Thankfully, educators have taken on the challenge and this has led to the creation of 3D printing camps and the holiday 3D printing activities that continue to spring up everywhere.

Making the Case for Additive Manufacturing Education in Higher Institutions

As STEM education becomes more practical in higher institutions, additive manufacturing courses can play a huge role in preparing students for the future. And the future foreseen for the Mechanical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Robotics and Tech industries is one that will be heavily reliant on 3D printing.

Therefore, making it imperative for STEM and design faculties to focus on developing additive manufacturing departments to aid learning.

There are also a couple of industrial-grade 3D printers and tools which can be purchased as equipment for these facilities. A couple of great options include the:

- Creatbot DX series

- Ultimaker Replicator and

- The WanHao Duplicator D series

While these facilities will ensure an additive manufacturing savvy workforce is produced, they can also awaken entrepreneurial ideas and pursuits in the mind of students.

Making the Case for Additive Manufacturing Education in Professional Settings

Ensuring staff stay motivated and pursue professional development also falls under the responsibilities of an employer. Therefore, employers are also saddled with bridging the widening workforce gap in the additive manufacturing industry. Thankfully, there are a lot of third party educators and facilities provided for the education of an aging workforce on how to take advantage of 3D printing.

Enrolling production personnel in these programs is also cost effective and a great way to save cost because hiring new technicians to manage the firm’s 3D printing needs does not come cheaply.


Additive manufacturing is set to introduce the fourth industrial age to mankind and it is only fair that we prepare the next generation of workers for this inevitable change. And the responsibility of carrying out this educational process, rests squarely on the schools, colleges and educators of today.