As with all technologies developed in the last 30 years, 3D printing is one that changes rapidly. The computer programs that take users of this additive manufacturing tech past the basics can be complex and intimidating. Even if you feel completely at home with them, however, they evolve and shift quickly too. Rather than the model of one-time training with mastery coming only from practice over long periods of time, today’s 3D print designer and maker must be continually educating her/himself just to keep up.
If you’re lucky to find a particularly talented and knowledgeable YouTube contributor and you know exactly what you are looking for, it is possible to keep up on your own. Sifting through the available videos in order to find quality can take an enormous investment in time. After all, everybody can contribute to YouTube and this means you will likely first have to sort through videos of a woman whose pet iguana is named SolidWorks, a diatribe by an unsettled office worker who insists on referring to himself in 3rd person (“Cam Works!”), or a missive from my 11-year-old son Jack who wishes that rather than having to do his own homework he had a work surface that would do all of his assignments for him…an invention he calls his AutoDesk.
In response to the difficulty of finding the appropriate training tools, services have begun to spring up that offer curated content to ensure quality. The most famous of these types of subscription sites is probably Lynda.com which offers a wide variety of video courses from content experts and with high production value. One player for the last 13 years, and with a focus on the types of programs used for design and making with CAD/CAM, is the service offered by SolidProfessor. This site offers comprehensive and continually updated training for a variety of programs such as SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, and CamWorks to individuals, businesses, and educators who sign up to learn.
Co-founder of SolidProfessor Tony Glockler described the impetus for creating such an offering to 3DPrint.com:
“The speed and quantity of feedback means that designers are iterating design ideas at an ever-increasing pace. With this opportunity for rapid design, designers need to be incredibly efficient at using their design tools to keep up with the pace of prototyping. Knowing best practices, the latest functionalities, and the software inside and out will keep designers working at their best.
Staying current means implementing new ways of learning. The evolution needs to be from once and done or at best yearly training to continuous learning as a normal part of a designer’s work week. Training can no longer be done once a year. Instead it must be ongoing and actually scheduled into an engineer’s weekly workload, just like any other task.
Advances in design software and 3D printing happen daily. Keeping up with the pace of technology might seem daunting, but an ongoing skills development program is key to staying on top of the advances made possible by 3D printing.”
With SolidProfessor, you sign up by picking a software and paying the yearly fee, and then are able to get training on the go and on demand. No more hours of YouTube (though SolidProfessor does have a channel!), where it is all too easy to get sidetracked by videos of cats playing patty cake and a spider that is, purportedly, excellent at hiding. Not that I’m suggesting you shouldn’t find a way to inject a little bit of video silliness into your workflow too. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
As Glockler noted to us, “3D printing is changing at a dizzying pace. 3D design training needs to change with it. The days of ‘one and done’ intensive education are obsolete due to the rapid changes made possible by the advancing 3D printing industry.”
With all these constant changes and updates, doesn’t it make sense to keep learning as you–and the tech–evolve? Discuss this initiative in the SolidProfessor Education forum on 3DPB.com.