America Makes is the US national additive manufacturing innovation institute, based in Youngstown, Ohio. The Lanterman Group is a 3D printing consultancy, chaired by Anthony Hughes. These two groups have now come together to create ACADEMI, a national 3D printing education program directed towards those working in any skill or profession.
ACADEMI is an acronym for Advanced Curriculum in Additive Design, Engineering, and Manufacturing Innovation. It is a recognized and certified academic program for designing and producing products, which aims to be cost effective, and to implement and meet the needs of a wide range of learners across industries.
The need for a US-wide program
At the “National Forum on AM Education and Training” in 2016, a consortium spearheaded by The Lanterman Group noted that the current state of training in additive manufacturing technologies does not meet the needs of the workforce.
Their observations included the superficial and overly-theoretical nature of training, a lack of awareness of the business case for 3D printing, a lack of objectivity when using products for training, and the lack of integration of diverse disciplines in training courses, such as biomimicry, reverse engineering and design simulation.
Orientated towards application
To address these concerns, the ACADEMI program features a specific, “end-to-end approach to 3D printing training” involving the background, theory and practise of 3D printing. Hughes, noting that technological developments are forcing manufacturing to go through a renaissance, set up the program to give employees a practical means to apply their technology within their companies.
In an interview, Hughes noted the greater importance of making ACADEMI “application orientated”. He stated that “the true game-changer” is in “design innovation”, since the value of 3D printing can only be truly realised “if we free ourselves from thinking that a product or part must look the same as it always has”.
More complicated than a single skill
While many programs exist to teach people how to 3D print, the ACADEMI program tailors the 3D printing skills it teaches to specific industries. For this, Hughes notes the importance of retraining, stating that “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 3D printed parts is a lot more complicated than picking up a single skill”.
So far, ACADEMI has trained up technicians from the United States Department of Defense and the Air Force in 3D metal printing technologies. Eventually, both America Makes and The Lanterman Group hope to train up more people from other industries and in other varieties of 3D printing.
In the UK, the recently published UK Additive Manufacturing National Strategy also identified development of 3D printing skills in current and future workforce as a core recommendation.
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Featured image shows students being taught about 3D printing in small groups as part of ACADEMI. Photo via America Makes.