3D printing is revolutionizing the manufacturing, construction, medical, and design industries. The growing demand for 3D printed objects has also led to the creation of new job profiles for artists, engineers and graphic designers.
If you want to switch roles for a career in 3D printing, here’s how you can do it.
Why develop a career in 3D printing?
A lucrative career in an emerging technology field is the main reason to pursue a career in 3D printing. But that is not the only reason. Here’s a look at the scope of the field, the demand for 3D printed products, and the qualifications required to start a career in this field:
Scope of 3D printing
According to a Fortune Business Insights report, the 3D printing industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of 24.3% to become an $83.9 billion industry. This globally flourishing industry is experiencing a strong increase in the number of jobs in industrial sectors such as architecture, scientific modeling, musical instruments, etc.
3D printing offers exciting career opportunities in various vertical industries such as organ printing, robotics, AI, etc. The growing demand for 3D printed products implies a tremendous growth in the scope and size of the industry.
You need a bachelor’s degree in engineering disciplines such as mechanical, chemical, construction, manufacturing, automotive, electronics, computer science, biomedical, and the like to apply for most 3D printing jobs.
You can also pursue a career in 3D printing if you have a pure science degree, such as a bachelor’s degree in chemical sciences, organic chemistry, biotechnology, etc. A fine arts degree can also be helpful in applying for prototype-based 3D printing jobs. .
If you don’t have the necessary educational qualifications, skills and experience in graphic design, animation, sketching, and drawing-related fields can help you make the cut. You need a great portfolio that speaks to your skills and experience. In addition to being good at drawing, you also need good logical reasoning and problem-solving skills.
1. Get started with online courses
If you don’t have the pre-qualifications, certificates, experience, or skills required to start a career in 3D printing, here’s how you can get started.
Learn what 3D printing is and how it works, then enroll in online 3D printing courses or get certifications in creative design, model making, animation, and more to launch your 3D printing career. Here are some courses you can explore:
- Coursera 3D Printing Apps
- Various 3D printing courses offered by Udemy
- Advanced 3D Design and 3D Printing by Lydnow
- Additive Manufacturing by MIT
- Additive Manufacturing by The Open University
2. Develop your technical skills
While having the right qualifications and certificates is a good starting point, a career in 3D printing requires you to master some technical skills. You will put these skills to good use on the job as well as get better opportunities depending on your mastery of the technical skill.
- Basic concepts of additive manufacturing: Additive manufacturing is a vast field, but understanding the basics of 3D printing is a must if you want to work in this field. Learn about the various steps, processes, and principles involved in starting a 3D printing job, from the concept stage to printing the 3D model.
- Design and 3D Modeling: 3D graphics design is very different from normal graphics design. You will create complex 3D objects within simulation software in order to print 3D models.
- Application software: You must be proficient in at least two or more application software and design systems that help design 3D models and print them.
- Additive manufacturing materials: You must learn everything about the additive manufacturing process, from the origin of the materials to their chemical composition. You must learn the what, why and how of the materials used in additive manufacturing.
- Hardware operation: Whether it’s industrial 3D printing or small-scale model printing, understanding details like how the hardware works, how a 3D design is set up and processed on a printer, etc. is important if you want to gain a comprehensive understanding of the field. . .
- Quality and testing procedures: The checks and balances initiated by effective quality and testing procedures ensure that their designs, models and finishes are top-notch.
- Product life cycle: 3D printing belongs to the manufacturing industry that produces tangible goods for various consumer markets. These products also follow the typical product life cycle stages followed by regular products, and knowing these steps allows you to understand how these principles affect the additive manufacturing process and distribution.
3. Develop a portfolio to display your work
Create a portfolio of designs and 3D models to demonstrate your learning and experience.
- Sign up to free websites like Blender and Unreal Engine to learn how to design for additive manufacturing. Since these free services offer limited options, you can pay for other software such as SketchUp, Modo, 3ds Max, etc., to create original and realistic 3D designs that can be exported to printing devices.
- Order 3D printed models of your designs through websites like ProtoLabs, Shapeways, Print Parts, Sculpteo, etc. This will be an expensive task, depending on the complexity of your model and the raw materials required.
- You can also print your own models with a 3D printer if you can afford it.
- Create a professional brand image on social media for your career.
- Promote your skills, designs, and 3D models through social forums like Reddit, Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, etc.
4. Get an entry-level job
You can start small by applying for design and sketch jobs that fall under prototyping – the process of conceptualizing, brainstorming, experimenting, and turning designs into real-life models. Once you gain more experience, you can apply for manufacturing-based jobs such as moulds, tooling, and component printing.
You can search for different levels of 3D printing jobs in the following ways:
- Most entry-level jobs in this field are advertised through generic job portals like ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, etc. Create a profile on these sites and start applying for relevant positions.
- Browse through specialized sites such as 3D Print, 3D Natives, 3D Printing, 3D Heals, etc., to explore opportunities that do not appear in the usual job portals.
- The gig economy also offers a plethora of 3D printing related jobs and remote work opportunities that you can find on Upwork, Flexjobs, Fiverr, CGTrader, etc.
Put your 3D printing career in action
Even if you don’t have any qualifications or experience in 3D printing or adjacent fields, you can start learning today with the resources listed above and switch to a career in 3D printing if you choose. Its scope and applications are limitless, and you can pursue a career in the industry of your choice.