How 3D Printing is Reshaping Career Skills Students Need
3D printing is such a fascinating development of the modern world. Until recently, it was just a sci-fi dream of some distant future, but now, it's a reality that is just starting to disrupt traditional practices.
While there's not a 3D printer in every home, makerspaces with advanced equipment such as this are popping up in schools around the country. At the same time, 3D printers are making waves in consumer product development, healthcare, aerospace and industrial engineering, defense, education, and more.
The first 3D printer was invented in the early 1980s by Chuck Hull. His first object, the first ever printed, was a small cup meant to be used as an eye wash.
Printers continued to develop, but were only really able to work with plastics. Recently, there has been an explosion of 3D printers able to manipulate carbon fiber, concrete, and even alien dirt (more on this later).
As this technology advances and permeates more industries, the job market our educational institutions are preparing students for will undoubtedly change. In fact, a recent World Economic Forum report cited that "65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist."
Just to give you an idea of how far 3D printing has come and the types of jobs it'll shape, here are five articles that highlight the future of manufacturing.
5 Incredible 3D Printed Breakthroughs That are Transforming their Industries
Welcome to the brave new world of robot manufacturing.
Custom-Fit Footwear [Video]
New Balance is just one of multiple shoe makers tinkering with ways to produce more customized footwear that's designed to meet the buyer's specific needs. The advent of 3D printing has opened the flood gates to new possibilities in this pursuit.
While New Balance is currently only experimenting with printing highly specialized soles for professional athletes, they are already seeing the benefits of being able to rapidly generate custom models by scanning a person's feet and printing shoes to fit.
Medical Devices Designed for Each Patient
One area where 3D printing technology is making huge waves is the medical industry. Whether they're printing custom prosthetics, bone replacements, or anatomical models, these advances are transforming medical practices at a rapid pace.
A shining example of the power 3D printing can have in medicine is the invention of the custom airway stent, a device designed to hold open the trachea of someone who is struggling to breathe. The personalized design enables the stents to fit snugly, keeping them from sliding around in the trachea. Adnan Majid, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and pulmonary specialist says this method "may be faster, cheaper, and could ultimately translate into better patient care."
Six Day Car Printing and Manufacturing [Video]
At the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in 2014, car maker Local Motors broke new ground by 3D printing and assembling a functioning vehicle named Strati. While this is not the first car to be printed, is was to the first to be completed live in front of spectators over just six days. Others have taken months.
This dramatic advancement in 3D printing technology has enabled manufacturers to print up to 40 pounds of carbon infused plastic per hour—a breakthrough that will make waves in more than just car manufacturing.
24 Hour Printed Home [Video]
Apis Cor, a company that specializes in 3D printing developed a printer that looks like a robotic arm on a pedistal and prints using concrete. The result is a home-making machine than can pump out modern 400 square foot concrete homes within 24 hours at a cost of only $10,000.
Space Age Tools Printed from Mars Dust
There are no hardware stores on Mars. At least not yet. So if we're serious about sending people there, astronauts need practical methods to create what they need from the resources they have. On Mars, the most abundant resource is dust.
Scientists at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering have developed a way to turn alien dust into 3D printing material that can be turned into durable building blocks, tools, and other useful materials.
Given how tech is transforming global industries, how are you preparing students for the real world?