Published: 07th February 2018
Turning concepts and ideas into three-dimensional works of daily art
3D printing application engineer helps bring a fragile idea or concept to use with 3D printing technology or additive manufacturing
The future of manufacturing will be Hybrid Digital Fabrication. CNC, robotics and 3D printing will work together to form a formidable hybrid system that will make anything. Manufacturing is going to get smarter with a never-seen-before IT leverage. Experts call it Industry 4.0.
Hybrid manufacturing needs a lot of programming to convert ideas into solutions and products. There will be a need for programming skills in design synthesis and optimising compilation for running systems and process runtime monitoring.
We need to first convert fragile ideas into digital models through 3D modelling. The digital solutions created need to be further optimised for building (3D printing). This is achieved through the strategic building of programmes to get the best output. Computing estimate of processing time and runtime monitoring together form the world of 3D printer programming.
Staying abreast: In this field, it is important to keep abreast of new developments too
Consumption in the future will be driven by the power of design. Design thinking needs are important to create solutions. We can also call this conceptualisation. 3D modelling is all about the creation of a digital entity, assembly and subsystems through manipulation of points, lines, and surfaces. They form the first step after conceptualisation.
3D model data usually goes as a Stereolithography (STL) file and needs to be zipped, converted, sliced, supported, fixed, and manipulated to make it ready for digital fabrication or simply put, 3D printing. This and file encryption makes for the second and inevitable processioning step. In order to pack more information and ensure security, new file formats such as 3MF and AMF are being developed and will drive portability and data security.
Hardware such as a CNC/3D printer and robots need to be further monitored to avoid rejection, system failure and resource wastage. This is done with the help of sensors which sense and inform the system CPU about the progress in real-time. This can be called runtime monitoring. This is an important process which needs a lot of programming skills to optimise the process to get the right outputs the first time.
This field requires people who can use software to create 3D content, run 3D printers, advise others on how to choose a specific process and know the post process of 3D printing
We may broadly group programming for Advanced Manufacturing as follows:
The advent of 3D printing and its manufacturing democratisation effect is creating rewarding new jobs which both the creatively and mechanically inclined can opt for. Professional courses in such fields as engineering, design, animation, medical technologies, and software development can serve as launch pads into vocations centred around it.
Sara Angeles, Business News Daily Staff Writer (2013), explained in her article how 3D printing will fuel as many as ten growing sectors and create career opportunities in 3D design, 3D Computer-aided Design (CAD) modelling, Research and Development (R&D), biological and scientific modelling, architecture/construction modelling, education, lawyers and legal professionals, business opportunities, 3D-printing as a service franchises, operations and administrative positions. The Upwork Skill Index for 2017 lists 20 fastest growing skills and 3D printing is in the top three!
(Guruprasad Rao is the Director and part of the Mentor-Leadership team at Imaginarium India, one of Asia’s largest 3D printing companies. His current focus is on building the Imaginarium Academy, technology partnerships and technology mentoring at Imaginarium. Rao is a technocrat with 30 years of experience encompassing industry and academia. He holds a BE (Mech) with PG in Tool Engineering from GTTC and an M Des in Product Design from IISc, Bengaluru. He is currently busy concluding his research at IIT Bombay and Medical Law from NLSIU. His industrial assignments include Titan, Tanishq and Crompton Greaves and more. He has taught Design at IISc, NIFT, JSSATE and NTTF. He holds eight patents and has over 100 design registrations. He is also a member of FICCI’s capital goods committee and a trained assessor for CII-EFQM and a Business Excellence Award Assessor.)