Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the industrial production name for the technologies that build 3D objects by adding layers of material to create an object. It’s a transformative process that uses plastic, metal, or concrete materials to build lighter and stronger objects. According to Forbes, the additive manufacturing industry, also known as 3D printing (3DP), grew to almost $12 billion in 2019. And, it is expected to be a $40.8 billion industry by 2024 (Wohlers Associates).
To keep pace with this growing industry, NOCTI partnered with America Makes, the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in AM and 3DP technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation, to develop a secondary-level Essentials of AM credential. Funded through a grant provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), this public-private partnership is focused on innovating and accelerating AM/3DP to increase the nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness.
Additive manufacturing is transforming the engineering and manufacturing industries. The technology allows for rapid prototyping by using CAD or 3D object scanners to direct hardware to deposit material layer upon layer in precise shapes. It’s a single step manufacturing process that brings ultimate efficiency to operations by:
- Creating lighter, stronger parts & systems
- Reducing lead time
- Giving opportunities for rapid prototyping
- Relying on design-driven process
- Allowing freedom for customization
The process also minimizes product waste which reduces a company’s overall environmental impact.
The Need for A New Credential
With the expected growth of the AM/3DP industry comes the need for comprehensive standards, learning tools, and the ability to measure a person’s skill and competence within additive manufacturing. As a national leader in career and technical education (CTE) solutions and resources, NOCTI was the perfect partner to work with America Makes to develop an Essentials of AM credential targeted to high school students utilizing industry-developed standards as the starting point for a high school population.
Standards are important in an emerging field like AM/3DP because they:
- Provide a basis for mutual understanding industry-wide
- Establish common language to measure and evaluate performance
- Assist with making processes and products compatible
- Protect consumers by ensuring safety, durability, and market equity
Importance of the Certificates & Credential
For employers, certificates and credentials are an assurance a candidate has industry-relevant skills, knowledge, and support the need for a highly agile, mobile additive manufacturing workforce. For a rapidly growing field like AM/3DP, this is especially important when it comes to building a pipeline of workers.
For high school students enrolled in programs with additive manufacturing components, the industry standards identified as suitable for a high school student serve as the foundation for learning. The new Essentials of AM credential will not only serve as a validation of student skills but will also provide connections to the industry and can serve as a bridge to professional-level certifications. Educators benefit from having the data they need to target student learning and make informed improvement decisions. Likewise, this credential is a component of the career pathway for industry credentials and can be used in multiple industries including automotive, architecture, medical, and automotive.
As with all NOCTI credentials, the Essentials of AM has knowledge and skill-based components. These are imperative to measuring not just an understanding of the concepts but the implementation of them as well.
The knowledge-based component has 120 questions in the following areas:
- Safety (14%)
- Fundamentals (28%)
- Design (15%)
- Inputs (12%)
- Processes and Materials (22%)
- Secondary and Post Processes (9%)
Similarly, the skill-based component targets four key jobs:
- Slicer Software Set-Up (34%)
- 3D Printer Hardware Set-Up (23%)
- Create a 3D Solid Model Drawing (23%)
- Troubleshoot 3D Printing Projects (20%)
Become a Pilot Test Site
An important step in validating a credential is to go through a pilot testing process to ensure the credential’s validity. Sites that join the Essentials of AM pilot program have the unique opportunity to administer newly developed/revised credentials in a no-pressure practice environment. Pilot testing also enables an evaluation of internal administration procedures and encourages sites to review the curriculum for effectiveness and alignment with standards.
Are you interested in becoming a Pilot Test Site for the Essentials of AM credential? Please complete the Pilot Testing Site Application and we’ll be in touch!