As 3D printing grows and makes its presence known in industries across the world, there’s still the question of how to get workers caught up on the technology. 3D printing is being taught in more and more schools, from elementary to college level, but there’s still a generation of workers who have been in the workforce longer than 3D printing has. Those workers need to be trained in 3D printing, and that’s a big job. There are several training and certification programs available, but they generally only teach people the basics of 3D printing software and equipment. ACADEMI, however, is different.

ACADEMI (Advanced Curriculum in Additive Design, Engineering and Manufacturing Innovation) is the brainchild of Anthony Hughes, Founder and President of The Lanterman Group, a 3D printing innovation strategy and design firm. As part of a long-term strategic alliance with America Makes, Hughes and The Lanterman Group are launching ACADEMI, the first hands-on certification program in the United States focused on designing and producing products for 3D printing.

ACADEMI teaches not only the basics of 3D printing, but how to apply it within companies to become more competitive.

“The manufacturing field is going through a huge rebirth right now. We need to think differently about how we are going to give workers the right set of skills to thrive during this change, because making 3-D printed parts is a lot more complicated than picking up a single skill. What we need are people who think differently about product development: from designers, to material engineers, to manufacturing engineers—people who push their companies to think innovatively,” said Hughes.

“Many people think 3-D printing is an interesting way to make products faster, and hopefully cheaper. But they are missing the larger opportunity. The true game-changer is in design innovation. 3-D printing provides enormous design freedoms that can unlock a multitude of benefits if we free ourselves from thinking that a product or part must look the same as it always has. I want to teach people how to explore new possibilities and create the products of tomorrow.”

[Image: 3D PARS]

The ACADEMI program offers hands-on skills training in addition to advanced education about 3D design and 3D printing. Hughes compares it to the Lean Six Sigma program, which many businesses use to improve performance and business processes. ACADEMI, like Lean Six Sigma, is application-oriented and team-based, and it draws from field-tested research, courtesy of America Makes.

“What ACADEMI is bringing to the table is an end-to-end approach to 3-D printing training, which is: you start with a problem statement built around a real, industrial-based application need, and you end with a capstone project that is actually demonstrating and validating the learnings in a real-world environment,” said Rob Gorham, Executive Director of America Makes.

Anthony Hughes

ACADEMI just launched this fall, with the Air Force and United States Department of Defense the first groups to participate in the program. Metal 3D printing is the focus of the first training sessions, but Hughes plans to expand the program to encompass polymer and composite materials soon. He plans to make additional expansions to ACADEMI, as well: right now, it’s geared toward technicians, but he wants to add courses for executives and managers in the near future.

“In the grand scheme of things, I would like for ACADEMI to have a significant impact on the productivity of individual companies as well as be a catalyst for broad industry adoption,” said Hughes. “I hope companies can look at us and say, ‘You allowed us to significantly cut the time it took for us to get our 3-D printed innovation to market, from two years to six months.'”

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[Source: Carnegie Mellon University]

 

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