The AM Job Hunt: Skills for AM Across the Board

2019-03-13

Aya Bentur  

Lamborghini Urus Fuel Cover Cap Digitally Manufactured EPX epoxy resin

An industry is defined not only by technology but by its professional workforce. The lack of Additive Manufacturing (AM) skills has been raised across the industry and by initiatives, yet what are those skills and who are those coveted AM professionals that the ecosystem is in need of? Like in any other manufacturing technology the required skills depend on the vertical, the application and stage of development. The job positions relating to AM skills can serve as a barometer of the AM ecosystem, indicating popular verticals, applications, and overall stage of implementation. I decided to see what can we learn from open positions in AM (and also to highlight some of them for those of you looking).

An Expertise Across Fields

Even though the common thread is additive manufacturing, jobs can pertain to different industries or verticals, which makes finding AM related jobs or AM related professionals a bit more challenging. Jobs such as mechanical engineer, represent only a partial picture of the AM workforce. Designers, software developers, supply chain management, marketing, sales, and researchers, are all part of the intricate ecosystem. There is a constant back and forth between hardware, software, materials, applications, and business models that are developed in tandem, one reacting to the other, so it’s only logical that additive manufacturing jobs are dispersed across all fields. The intersection of AM with other fields of expertise is an indication of the ongoing process of AM integration, another is the level of AM-related positions which vary from technician to Vice President of Operations. From a quick internet search on ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and Indeed it looks like there is a demand for skills on all levels. There are attempts to facilitate the job hunt: 3Dprint.com, 3Dprintingindustry.com, 3Dnatives.com, as well as womenin3Dprinting.com, have job boards and Formnext created a platform for careers and networking within the ecosystem. Yet often the jobs are indirect in their relation to AM such as digital supply chain management, or the skills required are a cross-section between AM knowledge and non-AM knowledge. For example, in material development, the “main” profession would be chemistry or materials science together with specific experience in the field of materials for additive manufacturing (below infographic by Manufuture Vision 2030). As LEO Lane, we cannot ignore the software side of AM (we’re always on the lookout for talented full stack developers in Israel! – contact us for details). AM software is an emerging skill set where expertise is only starting to ramp up – a great point in which to enter this fascinating area. At least we think so…

Manufuture-Vision-2030_DIGITAL-29

Job Applications for Specific Applications

The jobs listings also reflect the applications of AM and their status. For example, an advertised position for a Surgical Planner whose job is to generate pre-operative surgical plans using 3D printed anatomical models demonstrates that 3D printed anatomical models are already integrated into pre-surgery preparation. While an intern position in the field of organ 3D printing (at United Therapeutics) suggests a more research-based status. The jobs advertised can reveal the answer to a question raised often in the ecosystem – which applications are actually in regular production and which are still (promising yet not fulfilled) use cases? On the R&D side (without detracting from the importance and the complicated development process), we have jobs such as Additive Manufacturing Research Engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, or Material Scientist at Arevo. On the industrially integrated side, we have Carbon searching for an Automotive Industry Director, which correlates with recent news of Lamborghini adopting Carbon’s 3D printing for automotive production (up top 3D printed Lamborghini Urus Fuel Cover Cap). Less hyped but clearly more of a widespread application is dental, SmileDirectClub is looking for a 3D Printing Specialist and Glidewell Dental is looking for an Implementation Specialist, the job entails traveling to customer sites on a weekly basis to implement their in-office solution which includes 3D printing.

Who’s Looking?

Sintavia Additively Manufactured Metal Parts

An additional aspect worth examining in the job listings are the companies that are advertising. Companies tend to keep their development process under wraps but the job boards can provide a glimpse into the backstage of AM integration, at least in understanding what kind of companies beyond printer manufacturers are looking for skilled AM professionals (of course, keeping in mind that there is some degree of in-direct marketing even in the way a position is described). Facebook, for example, is advertising an Additive Metal Specialist position for their Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) “This role will be responsible for managing the methods, processes, and in-house equipment used to produce complex prototype and production components, mechanisms, and solutions for future consumer virtual reality experiences and testing” they state. While Facebook isn’t a regular player in the AM ecosystem, HP, known for their move from 2D printing to 3D printing is advertising positions from Director, 3D Printing & Planning to 3D Printing Engineering Intern, indicating to the extent of their AM operations. Other examples are Sintavia advertising for positions such as Part Finisher and Quality Inspector, both technical yet necessary aspects of industrial manufacturing (above metal parts additively manufactured by Sintavia). While Deloitte is advertising managerial positions: Manager – Supply Chain Network Operations – Digital Supply Networks (DSN) and Manager – Manufacturing Strategy & Smart Operations- Aerospace & Defense/Military. Another job listing we encountered is a recruiter position at Carbon. Now recruiting for recruiting – that exemplifies the company’s intentions and objectives. It also reflects the current state of the industry – fast growth along with the search for means to facilitate that growth.

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