3D printing technology has grown so rapidly that it’s making waves across every industry. Though the technology is fairly new, it’s application has become so versatile and so in-demand that there’s a growing need for people who can understand, operate, and provide innovation through 3D printers and 3D modeling concepts.
The chief driving force behind the explosion in job growth and industry demand is that even traditional organizations are realizing the potential of 3D printers and interest is expanding with a phenomenal momentum. An increasing number of job postings are calling for engineers who can implement 3D printing and additive manufacturing into company processes. If you are seeking challenging opportunities in an exciting industry poised to revolutionize business, now is the time to sharpen your skills and increase your knowledge of the 3D industry.
The Necessary Skills
If you are intrigued with new technologies and have an eye for precision and detail, then the expanding world of 3D printing could become your field of expertise. To work in this field, you will need to be familiar with 3D CAD (computer-aided design) in order to plan and design projects.
You’ll also need to attain working knowledge of the mechanical operation and manufacturing applications of 3D printers. This involves understanding all the advantages and drawbacks to implementing 3D printers into any process. If you commit to pursuing a career in 3D printing, you’ll have to stay abreast of the latest technical breakthroughs and market demands for 3D printing, whether it’s custom prosthetics or high-tech fashions.
The most important factor is the readiness to commit to a career that blends innovative design with the mathematical precision of advanced mechanical engineering. If you’re interested and willing to learn, you’re urged to take advantage of online tutorials or attend a course on 3D design and printing.
Top Degrees for a Career in 3D Printing
There are as yet few accreditations in 3D printing, so academic credentials aren’t as much value to your career as proven skills and experiences in using 3D software. However, there are several degree programs which are a perfect fit as a background for careers in 3D printing.
3D printers are a rapidly-advancing technology that calls for engineers who can understand, maintain, and operate the equipment. Mechanical, industrial, or software engineers will have a better grasp of what’s involved in producing accurate working models and components for manufacturing and architectural designs.
Animation and Design
A related field that uses many of the same tools is 3D animation, used in many venues from web graphics to feature-length films. The 3D design software is used in translating visual concepts into tangible objects. A background in 3D animation ensures you already have an understanding of the software and the modeling concepts involved.
The constant demand for better healthcare treatments has also become part of the expanding market for 3D printers. Medical researchers can create working organic models and even functional arterial implants from 3D materials. Biomedical experts can lead the way in developing new medical solutions through this new 3D technology.
The current state of 3D printing software is much less user-friendly than mainstream applications, but as the technology progresses there will be opportunities for programmers who can develop cross-platform software, better interfaces, and more features and functions that make using 3D printers easier and more productive.
3D printing is a specialized area of knowledge, but the applications are so varied that anyone with knowledge of how they can be best adapted and utilized could find excellent employment opportunities. Here are several profitable positions available in this revolutionary field.
As a 3D designer your job is to materialize concepts by exploring ideas, addressing flaws, and refining models into market-ready products. Designing for 3D printers allows your ideas to evolve logically into digital versions that can be printed anywhere.
3D Printing Specialist
As a specialist you can prepare files for 3D printing. You must have the ability to make designs meet customer specifications, such as debugging, adjusting, and formatting them to various printers for the best output.
3D Customization & Prototyping
As manufacturers provide larger and more complex 3D printers, customization of a variety of objects such as furniture or medical prosthetics becomes more commonplace. As a 3D prototyper, you’ll have to be able to deliver these altered versions in a timely and cost-effective manner.
When marketing these customized products and prototypes you’ll have to have an understanding of 3D printing techniques, software and printer capabilities, and materials, as well as manage client info, technical advice, pricing, scheduling, and more.
The growth of 3D printing has opened up opportunities in many areas of education. Many schools are including 3D printing as a means of hands-on instruction in subjects such as science or business development. The growing use of 3D printers requires qualified instructors to provide training at many levels, such as company crash courses, or more involved curriculum at universities and technical schools.
As 3D printers appear that utilize metallic as well as plastic materials, there’s a demand for companies that can provide replacement parts for out-of-stock or unique products such as antique cars, artwork, home décor, and more that can’t be repaired or replaced except through new parts. This was formerly an expensive mold casting process that’s much faster, cheaper, and easier with the advent of 3D printers.
The growth of 3D printing and its dramatic effect on the manufacturing process is creating a number of rewarding new job roles which those who are both creatively and mechanically inclined can adopt with the right training and knowledge. Degrees in such fields as engineering, design, animation, medical technologies, and software development can serve as a springboard into new vocations centered around 3D printing. A level of expertise at 3D design software and printer operation is leading to new job opportunities for customization, fabrication, prototyping, sales, education, and much more.
About the Author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. She spends her free time trying out new recipes or reading Scandinavian crime novels. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.