Preparing industry for additive manufacturing and its applications: Summary & recommendations from a National Science Foundation workshop

Timothy W. Simpson, Christopher B. Williams, Michael Hripko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Accompanying the increasing advances and interest in Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies is an increasing demand for an industrial workforce that is knowledgeable about the technologies and how to apply them to solve real-world problems. As a step towards addressing this knowledge gap, a workshop was held at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to discuss the educational needs to prepare industry for AM and its use in different fields. The workshop participants – 66 representatives from academia, industry, and government – identified several key educational themes: (1) AM processes and process/material relationships, (2) engineering fundamentals with an emphasis on materials science and manufacturing, (3) professional skills for problem solving and critical thinking, (4) design practices and tools that leverage the design freedom enabled by AM, and (5) cross-functional teaming and ideation techniques to nurture creativity. This paper summarizes the industry speakers and presentations from the workshop, along with several new educational partnerships identified by small working groups. Based on the presentations and partnerships, the following recommendations are offered to advance the AM workforce. First, ensure that all AM curricula provide students with an understanding of (i) AM and traditional manufacturing processes to enable them to effectively select the appropriate process for product realization; (ii) the relationships between AM processes and material properties; and (iii) “Design for AM”, including computational tools for AM design as well as frameworks for process selection, costing, and solution generation that take advantage of AM capabilities. Second, establish a national network for AM education that, by leveraging existing “distributed” educational models and NSF's Advanced Technology Education (ATE) Programs, provides open source resources as well as packaged activities, courses, and curricula for all educational levels (K-Gray). Third, support K-12 educational programs in STEAM (STEM plus the arts) and across all formal and informal learning environments in order to learn the unique capabilities of AM while engaging students in hands-on, tactile, and visual learning activities to prepare them for jobs in industry while learning how to think differently when designing for AM. Fourth, provide support for collaborative and community-oriented maker spaces that promote awareness of AM among the public and provide AM training programs for incumbent workers in industry and students seeking alternative pathways to gain AM knowledge and experience. Recommendations for scaling and coordination across local, regional, and national levels are also discussed to create synergies among the proposed activities and existing efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-178
Number of pages13
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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