With two children, I (Tom) often think, “What should they study for career success?” If either one expressed an interest in making a mark in the 3D printing industry, I probably would recommend studying one or more of the following.
With every product, first comes the design. Becoming proficient in design techniques and the use of design tools such as CAD software will provide the opportunity to bring marketable skills to the 3D printing industry.
Coding has become the lingua franca of the modern world bringing together every aspect of commerce and making them all more efficient with the computer-aided processes. Becoming proficient, or at least conversant, in coding concepts and certain programming languages allows entry into most areas of commerce including 3D printing, where every product is first a design stored and transferred by computer systems. Innovation in the computer-augmented aspects of 3D printing will play a significant role in its continued expansion.
3. Chemical Engineering/Materials Science/Mechanical Engineering/Physics
Likely the greatest strides that will be taken in the realization of a 3D Printing Revolution will occur on the molecular level. I have lumped these disciplines together because they all focus on the building blocks needed for 3D printing. Currently, limitations in the choice of materials of construction and build times prevent wider penetration of 3D printing technology. Those with a thorough understanding of chemistry, fluid dynamics, materials science, heat transfer, and physics will most likely be the ones overcoming these hurdles. New polymers, alloys, and binders will offer a wider range of performance characteristics. New delivery and deposition systems will allow for more precise and efficient buildups. Methods for managing heat will allow for faster build times. Those with an understanding of the fundamentals of the physical phenomena that comprise the 3D printing process will be the ones driving these innovations.
If a 3D printing venture is to be viable, the business must be both understood and executed effectively. Those with a business and finance background form an integral part of any team that is putting a product or service in the marketplace. A successful team needs a depth of knowledge in accounting, marketing, sales, finance, and other core business processes. A 3D printing team is no different.
While there are other areas that may provide skills that can prove useful in a 3D printing venture, these will have special prominence on those ventures poised to succeed.