Additive manufacturing is increasingly being adopted by consumer brands who take advantage of improved customization, lighter products and faster product development. The consumer sector of additive manufacturing encompasses eyewear, footwear, sports equipment, jewelry and fashion, among others.
While this sector grows, with more applications of additive manufacturing technology throughout, so does the demand for talented professionals AND the demand for knowledge among those creative professionals looking to make their business happen with additive manufacturing.
The demand for knowledge
An increased demand for knowledge saturates the AM industry with organizations and individuals alike, seeking to upskill themselves to take better advantage of the technology.
The 2019 Additive Manufacturing Salary Survey by Alexander Daniels Global shows a distinct demand for knowledge among AM professionals, with 29% of survey respondents planning to attend specific AM courses, and 31% planning to attend internal company trainings on AM. Furthermore, the survey shows a specific demand for courses around ‘General AM’ and ‘Design for AM.’
Both general AM knowledge and Design for AM (DfAM) are particularly useful for these consumer verticals, especially if they wish to turn their current portfolio into 3D printable files and products.
The Additive Manufacturing Salary Survey is freely available for download here.
The demand for professionals
The skills gap and talent shortage that saturates the additive manufacturing industry is also applicable to the consumer vertical. As the sector grows, companies are demanding knowledgeable professionals to a higher extent than what exists in the market.
For the consumer sector, a lot of the traditional jobs are being outsourced into the well-established 3D printing infrastructure. For example, a jewelry designer can outsource the actual printing and post-processing of their products to a service bureau and they can get assistance on materials and applications from 3D printing consultancies. Therefore, jobs like process engineering, service and technicians are not always necessary for organizations in the consumer sector. The demand for professionals is thus focused around developing a 3D printing strategy, for which design and application professionals are crucial.
Developing a 3D printing strategy involves answering key questions like “What can we print?”, “With which machines?”, “Which printing type?”, “What materials?”, “What can we do in-house and what needs outsourcing?” and many more. Application Engineers are key to identifying and developing production applications of 3D printing; having engineers with knowledge and experience with AM use cases, machines and materials is crucial to understanding where and how a company can get the most out of additive manufacturing.
Design professionals are instrumental for companies to convert parts from their current product portfolio for 3D printing – designers look at the portfolio and, together with the application engineers, look at where, how and why products can be 3D printed to leverage advantages like customization and waste- and risk reductions.
The skills in demand
Besides specific job disciplines being in high demand for consumer verticals, there is a set of skills and experience highly sought after in every professional looking to be successful within the consumer vertical of additive manufacturing.
- Finding new applications for AM, printing new parts using AM and inventing new materials for printing, all require creativity – especially when it comes to creating consumer products.
Experience working with plastics and polymers
- Currently, the majority of consumer applications for 3D printing technology use plastics and polymers. Having experience working with these materials may provide an advantage for professionals in understanding the scope and possibilities of production.
Broad knowledge of manufacturing
- Additive Manufacturing is not a single technology, but a whole integrated set of manufacturing technologies and processes. Having a broad knowledge of manufacturing enables professionals to better understand the relationship between the different processes, materials and technologies. This will help them to innovate and optimize consumer products using additive manufacturing.
The growth in adoption of additive manufacturing in the consumer sector has brought with it these three areas of demand, among others. If the consumer sector is to continue its growth, knowledge and experience is key to succeed.
Are you looking for talented additive manufacturing professionals in the consumer sector to join your team? Get in touch with Alexander Daniels Global to learn more.
This article was published in partnership with Alexander Daniels Global.