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WORKFORCE PIPELINE A MONTHLY FEATURE ABOUT TRAINING, EDUCATION & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT


w Bringing Competitive Excitement to Additive Manufacturing A


s the impact of additive manufacturing, or 3D print- ing, on business continues to surge, the need for career development in this rapidly growing industry is also rising. Four years ago, SME decided to collaborate with Stratasys, the 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) solutions company, on an initiative to attract students to the emerging tools and technologies involved in AM and 3D printing. After a number of discussions and months of planning, we developed the SkillsUSA Additive Manufactur- ing Competition to test high school and post-secondary students on their knowledge and skills in this space.


contest winners—competed in 100 different hands-on trade, technical and leadership fi elds, highlighting capabili- ties in their respective fi elds. Created by SME and co-sponsored with Stratasys, the Additive Manufacturing Competition challenges students to think beyond traditional manufacturing applications and gain hands-on experience with the latest 3D printing software and technology, including the new Stratasys F123 Series. The contest has benefi tted from steady growth over the


Davis Turpen (left) and Briana Lundquist from Hastings (NE) Senior High School testing the prototype of their track piece fi xture to see what adjustments are needed.


This contest is part of the SkillsUSA National Leader- ship and Skills Conference, an annual event that attracts thousands of students, teachers and business partners to participate in week-long activities to showcase the talents of America’s future skilled-trade workforce. This year’s national event was held in Louisville, KY, June 19–23. Over 6000 career and technical education students—all state


94 AdvancedManufacturing.org | August 2017


past three years, with 34 teams—representing 26 states— competing in this year’s event. This competition highlights many of the benefi ts of AM as well as challenging students to expand their design capabilities. The main design challenge for this year’s Additive Manu- facturing Competition was centered on form, fi t and function of end-use, or “production,” parts. On the fi rst day of the contest, students were challenged to create a fi xture that would attach to a ramp and move a marble from the ramp to a designated target. Competitors were given a block of time to design a prototype of their fi xture. Restrictions were placed on print time, build envelope and material usage, giving the students a chance to face the same types of chal- lenges they would encounter in the workforce. On day two of the contest, the students were presented with 3D printed prototypes of their designs and given time to make design modifi cations before their fi nal “production part” was printed. Many of the students found that what they be- lieved to be a great design, in theory, did not live up to their expectations. They soon realized that their fi xture may have taken too long to print, was not the correct size to fi t onto the ramp, or did not have the correct tolerances needed for the 3D printers they were using.


Although the competition was designed to be fun, it was also supposed to emulate real-word situations. While design- ing a marble ramp might not be something a person would encounter in the workforce, the same principles of solving


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