There are times when age and knowledge become big factors when deciding for a career change. When it comes to learning something new, though, it’s never too late. The same is true when you want to get educated and embark on a 3D printing career. Tom and Tracy Hazzard answer the questions of a follower with regards to shifting into the 3D printing industry. It is certainly a growing industry and will be a big part of the future. They discuss the different approaches you may consider, education and skill-wise, along with the tools available that are beginner-friendly.
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How Can I Get Educated For A Career In 3D Printing?
This is the Ask Us Anything segment. This question came in over Facebook from a gentleman named Jacob. He is in the military but will be retiring soon. A lot of people don’t spend their entire careers in the military. They retire after a certain period of time where they have opportunities to retire at certain points along the way. He’s got some years built upon the GI Bill where you can get some education. He wants to start a new career in the 3D printing industry. If you’re thinking about starting a new career, this is a growing economy with a lot of opportunities.
There are a lot of excitement and challenges. My dad is a retired veteran as well and we have military people in our family. They have great discipline and work ethic that they learned. I find, especially the Air Force, that there’s a huge education opportunity from within. There’s lifelong learning going on. That kind of person is perfect for the growing 3D printing world because it’s going to change every day.
There’s so much opportunity if you had to pick a new career field to go into. You couldn’t pick a better one, especially at this point in time. He’s asking some good questions. He probably recognizes the opportunity here, too, that’s why he asked the question.
He mentioned that he has some tech background and interest at least in that area.
Also, some creative backgrounds, some design backgrounds. He’s asking what degree or education path would we recommend to benefit him the most to become a valuable asset in the coming years. That’s the first part of his question and the second part is, are there any minimum software certifications that he should know about? These are great questions.
If you have an interest in the creative and the tech, and you have both, this is a great opportunity to go for a design degree. I would think that the GI Bill is a perfect application. Being able to use it to get a real design degree, which can be expensive, would be an ideal way to go about it. You’re going to get an industrial design degree or a product design degree because some schools have it under both names.
Industrial design is probably the most common one. I agree with you, Tracy. Since you have an interest in creativity and design, I would recommend going for that because on the technical side of things, you can get a lot of training in other ways. It doesn’t have to cost you anything. Plus, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of certifications in that at this point.
There are certain software types and things like that, and there are programs and tutorials. There are also schools you can go to and you can take a week-long crash course. There are some of those popping up. HoneyPoint3D comes to mind and they teach Meshmixer, which was an Autodesk program but there are other ones. SolidWorks and Rhino have one software.
There are ways you can get educated in certain software, which is a critical component of learning to design things for 3D printing. You’ve got to be able to create it on the computer if you’re going to print it.
You need the design process first.
Here’s the thing. This is the big missing thing and the big opportunity, for you, Jacob. We had a good, trusted business person who we’ve worked with for years. As we told him, we were getting into 3D printing. This goes back several years that we were getting into this industry, he said, “I had a major business meeting in New York City with a whole bunch of different executives from similar companies to mine. We were all told that in several years, we’re all going to be 3D printing our clothing and all kinds of products.”
The point of what they were being told was manufacturers, these were all hard product manufacturers, are going to be the dinosaurs in the future of this 3D printing economy. You’re going to have to change your businesses to remain relevant but the big news that came out of that was what they were saying is the hot commodity, the jobs that are going to be in most demand are for designers. The people creating the things that everyone is going to need and want to 3D print. That’s why we’re designers, take that with a little grain of salt, but the reality is it is easier and a lot more available whether it’s local community colleges or there are different kinds of vocational schools. We have a Vocademy on the West Coast.
That’s for younger kids now.
Makerspaces and education programs that you can get into to learn the tech, to practice and get good at it. Fortunately, desktop 3D printers are getting inexpensive now. You can probably afford to buy one and use it. You can also get software training online or in your other regional opportunities to get an education in that. That’s why I find that it is necessary but the hard part is, “What are you going to make? What are you going to design? What are people going to want to 3D print?”
The approach to how to design it is also a thought process like, “Do I make it in parts? Do I make it all in one piece? How do I approach that design process?” Thinking of it is also just as critical. We feel strongly that it’s difficult to teach someone to design thinking without a lot of time. I can’t just teach it in a tutorial. I wish I could. I’m trying to teach it to many people but it’s too hard.
We can take a designer who understands the creative aspect of how to go through a process of deciding what a design should be, and teach them and train them in the tech, slicing software, CAD software and understanding the machines. That is easier to teach and if they have that creative ability, that’s more valuable to me.
I need them to be able to visualize what to make first. We hope that helps you. There are some other points like HoneyPoint3D and there are some other companies that have their software programs. I don’t know that there are all official certifications, but there are tutorials.
When it comes to software certifications, it matters a lot less exactly what software you learn. There are a lot of different ones and there’s a lot of competition between them. There’s a lot of similarity between them all as well. The most important thing is to learn certain CAD software. In one way or another, most of them will give you the capability to make whatever you want to make. Getting that general education and understanding of how you use it will benefit you. You can always pick up a different program along the way if you need to.
Start with a lower-cost one, raise your skill and get a higher-cost one.
Community colleges are a great resource for this. There have been a lot in the news in Montclair, New Jersey. Their community college has now gotten an innovation lab and has a lot of 3D printers that happen to be from MakerBot but everywhere in that town all the way from elementary school up through the community college has them. They’re putting programs in place and teaching them. It doesn’t have to be a MakerBot printer and you’ve got to go to a community college near you wherever you live in your community, but I’m sure there is one. They’re putting these things in place so you can get that help.
We hope that helps you and please go into 3D design. We would love that. Keep us posted on how you’re doing.
There are lots of jobs waiting for you.
Let us know when you’re drained and what you’re doing because we’d love to hear that.
Keep us apprised of different projects you’re doing and how long your education path. We’d love to hear about that and highlight that on the podcast as well. That was a wonderful, detailed question. It’s great to have someone reach out in such detail. You reached us on Facebook and we responded the same day because we saw it and it was of interest to us. For the rest of you out there, if you have some questions, please ask. We’re happy to help you out and address it if it’s appropriate for our audience.
Anywhere on social media @HazzDesign. Thank you so much, Jacob, and I wish you luck in your new endeavor.
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