3D Printing On The Rise
October 29, 2014
At the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., researchers are devoting a lot of attention to what might seem like an old technology: printers.But these aren’t just any printers. These printers are capable of printing, not words or images, but things.
Additive manufacturing — more popularly known as 3D printing — is transforming the manufacturing of everything from medical devices to car parts. The technology can actually print an entire house.
Basically, 3D printing uses a digital image to produce a three-dimensional object from a special printer. Instead of ink, 3D printers can “print” different types of materials including plastics, metals, cement — the list of materials keeps growing.
Tri-C is the only college in Northeast Ohio to offer a certificate program in 3D Digital Design and Manufacturing Technology. The program is funded by a U.S. Department of Labor grant that specifically seeks to recruit veterans, the underemployed and unemployed, though anyone is encouraged to enroll.
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has its own 3D Medical Applications Center. Its mission, along with education and research, is to provide computer-aided design and manufacturing to create medical models and custom implants.
Veterans who have been wounded may require complicated surgical procedures that can be enhanced by using anatomical models. By using additive manufacturing technology, doctors and technicians can create reconstructive plates unique to each veteran.
Additive manufacturing is also being used to design and print customized prostheses for those who have lost limbs as a result of combat. A veteran can receive a custom prosthesis in a matter of weeks when using a 3D printer versus months or years with traditional manufacturing. Often, it is cheaper than traditional manufacturing, too.
Because this is a new technology, there is a growing demand for trained and qualified workers. The additive manufacturing industry hit $3.1 billion in sales in 2013, and is projected to reach $21 billion by 2020 (Wohlers Report, August 2014). Individuals with the right training and hands-on experience will be needed to fill positions such as additive operators, CAD drafters and designers, and more.
For veterans and others looking to start a new career, Tri-C‘s 3D Digital Design and Manufacturing Technology program presents an opportunity to get trained in an emerging technology. With hands-on experience and training, all students are offered a chance to participate in an internship and job placement opportunities. In addition, flexible scheduling for day and evening classes is available.