Help shape the future of additive manufacturing in the UK

At the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, Martin Dury, Learning Design Manager, and his team are working to address the manufacturing skills gap, encouraging UK businesses to be agile and adopt new technologies. Currently, Dury is mapping a number of Additive Manufacturing Competency Frameworks for all roles in AM.

The frameworks are intended to define the skills, knowledge and behaviour required for newly developed AM roles and identify appropriate training programs for every step of the process, from requirement capture, design, material selection and manufacture through to post-processing, inspection and verification.

To help form a comprehensive outline of the roles and skills needed in additive manufacturing in the UK, the MTC is seeking input and contributions from industry experts.

The call is non-process specific, and contributions are welcome from any sector – anyone with additive manufacturing expertise is welcome to contribute. The goal is simply to provide the UK with a pipeline of trained additive manufacturing professionals and at present, the MTC is “the UK’s best kept secret with regards to additive training.”

Wall of members at Coventry's MTC, including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, EOS and Autodesk. Photo by Beau Jackson
Wall of members at Coventry’s MTC, including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, EOS and Autodesk. Photo by Beau Jackson

Pinpointing the AM skills gap

The MTC’s Additive Manufacturing Competency Frameworks will be developed to include role descriptions for Design, Materials, Non-destructive testing, Metrology and Manufacturing engineers, plus Manufacturing, Materials, NDT and Metrology Technicians.

Once defined, Dury and the team will compare these descriptions with any existing training programs in the UK, making recommendations for national additive manufacturing curricular.

For any gaps identified, Dury and the team will then work to develop appropriate AM apprenticeship and upskilling programs over the next 12 months, working with the MTC’s 100+ industry members.

A national hub for additive manufacturing

Since its inauguration as an independent Research & Technology Organisation (RTO) in 2010, the MTC has maintained an advantage over cutting edge developments in the manufacturing industry.

MTC specialisms include metrology, augmented reality (AR), automation, CNC machining and additive manufacturing.

On a recent tour of the MTC’s National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, I saw firsthand how the facility is contributing to the UK’s strong engineering sector. Well-equipped with over 20 different 3D printing systems, for both polymers and metals, the MTC offers experienced advice and research abilities to any partners seeking to adopt an additive manufacturing process.

The centre’s current membership covers over 100 companies from across manufacturing industries, including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, GE Power, Renishaw, Autodesk, Skanska and Stratasys.

Renishaw 3D printing system inside the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing. Photo via the MTC
Renishaw 3D printing system inside the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing. Photo via the MTC

Shape the future of UK additive manufacturing

The MTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre (AMTC) already offers a number of additive manufacturing training courses designed for decision makers, and developed as an introduction to industrial 3D printing. Included in these courses is a free-learning guide to give an insight into all seven defined 3D printing processes.

Contributions for the MTC’s Additive Manufacturing Skills Competencies Framework close 31 March 2018. Contact the MTC at [email protected] to give your input and help shape the future of AM in the UK.

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Featured image shows powder sample handling at the MTC’s National Centre for Additive Manufacturing. Photo via the MTC