09 Dec Importance for New Strategy for Skills in AM
SAM: Why a New Strategy for Skills in Additive Manufacturing is Important for the Industry
Article by Sean McConnell, Senior Technologist, Irish Manufacturing Research for CECIMO Magazine Fall 2020 Edition
Additive Manufacturing is catching on. This may seem implicit given the hype and investment that is present in the industry, but with CAGR’s of 25%+ being touted(1), it is no wonder that many of us adopted the various AM associated terms into our lexicon. Think topology optimisation, biomimicry, anisotropy.
Words that a lot of us are not yet using in our AM conversations are that of; reliability, repeatability and scalability. This is not to say that many companies are not engaging in these activities, but more to say that if we are to truly realise the potential of this technology, we must take the novelty it brings with a healthy dose of traditional engineering realism.
A core tenant of scaling a manufacturing process is that of standardisation. In order to ensure compliance and scalability, we must first ensure that all aspects of the process are captured, understood and standardised. As the various working groups within ISO/ASTM F42 TC 260 work hard to create the standards we all need for this technology, we also need to ensure that the skills and qualifications of the individuals working on this technology are standardised. This is where projects such as SAM and the greater effort of the International Additive Manufacturing Qualification System (IAMQS) come in.
SAM is an initiative funded through the Erasmus+ programme to develop out industry specific qualifications and the governance model for the proliferation of said qualifications under the IAMQS. Having been funded through the EU, the project is actively engaged with industrial partners, with some forming part of the project consortium. This is critical as the purpose of the project is to serve the existing and coming requirements for qualifications for AM training across all industries in Europe. Without the active participation of industry, projects such as this may run the risk of not satisfying the requirements of industry.
Anecdotally, we have seen companies beginning their AM journey looking for generalist staff to design for, operate and control this production process. In an ideal world, these people exist and are transferable across the entire process chain, unfortunately, the depth of knowledge required to get the best out of the process is such that it is not possible to fill a factory with generalists. This is where projects such as SAM come into their own. By providing role definitions and qualifications devised from industry-led forums and workshops, we can leverage a system that makes the scaling of human capital for this technology possible, alleviating the difficulties in training new and existing staff. This in of itself has made projects such as this extremely relevant to industry.
(1) AM Power, 2020, https://additive-manufacturing-report.com/additive-manufacturing-market/