ASTM to Offer Certification Program for Metal 3D Printer Operators

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Knowledgeable and experienced 3D printing operations people are in short supply. There were very few sites doing any kind of 3D printing at scale ten years ago. People well-versed in machine operations, management of printers, or manufacturing to specifications are rare and prized. To let the market grow, we need more people.

ASTM International is taking a step to help by offering the ¨Powder Bed Fusion – Laser Beam (PBF-LB) Machine Operator Certification program.” Pursuant to its ISO/ASTM 52942:2020 standard for qualifying LPBF machines, ASTM now offers theory and practical tests leading to the certification. Participants go through the Additive Manufacturing Procedure Specification (lists of relevant variables that should be controlled), standard operating procedures, machine management and build process monitoring, post processing, maintenance and materials. The program was codeveloped with EOS and is based on its M290 metal LPBF system.

Image courtesy of EOS.

“To successfully leverage AM technologies, we must pair those who are trained, and ASTM certified, for effective, efficient, and competent machine operations. EOS is proud to serve as the first AM equipment manufacturer to offer this personnel certification program. With ASTM, we are beginning to fill the need starting with the EOS M 290, but plan to expand certifications to cover all our metal and polymer platforms, and all material families,” said Dr. Gregory Hayes, Senior Vice President, Applied Technology at EOS North America.

Of course, it’s nice to be the standard and, in entry level systems, EOS has been the de facto standard, especially in North America for years now. It’s obvious that the firm wishes to leverage this effort into further trainings based on other systems, where EOS dominance is not so assured.

“Certification programs reinforce the use of standards and build trust and confidence in the use of AM technologies. This program is one of the first steps to fulfilling industry personnel certification needs and we look forward to quickly expanding to other machine vendor platforms. Together with key industry stakeholders, we can support reliable and competent use of the technology,” Mohsen Seifi, Ph.D., ASTM International’s director of global additive manufacturing programs, stated.

Certification and qualification is crucial to the further growth of our industry. Certifying operators, standards, quality management and the like, will make or break efforts in actual manufacturing. We are still going from lab to fab and a lot of clipboards and paperwork will be what will get us there.
There are some excellent trainings for 3D printing, such as John Hart’s MIT course on Additive Manufacturing and the classes from Purdue and Barnes. However, there are few courses worldwide and there should be much more on offer. Often universities offer little in the way of actual practical 3D printing instruction, let alone operational competence. Many languages don’t have a definitive 3D printing certification or courses, for example. So we need a lot more in a much broader variety of formats and at different price points.
There should be standard courses available for all levels and all types of machines. Safety and management courses for operating 3D printers in medical facilities, fire safety for powders and powder machines, safety for schools should all be available worldwide. Hopefully, ASTM´s reach and considerable efforts in 3D printing will go far into making a widely accepted certification available globally.

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