SAM project announces results of 3D printing sustainability survey


The SAM (Sector Skills Strategy in Additive Manufacturing) project has published the preliminary results of its 3D printing survey, which among other things assessed the role of additive manufacturing education for environmental sustainability.

The EU-funded project is coordinated by the European Welding Federation (EWF), of which the 3D printing industry is an associate partner of SAM, and is developing a European AM Observatory to identify skills needed for the technology and supply them to industry.

In this context, the project plays a key role in the consolidation of the International AM Qualification System (IAMQS) and, following the results of the survey, proposed a new unit of competence to address the topic of sustainability in the additive manufacturing.

The SAM project coordinated by EWF released its first report on the skills gap in the 3D printing workforce in 2020. Photo via the SAM project.

The SAM project

In February, the SAM project published a European roadmap for additive manufacturing with the aim of closing skills gaps in the sector. The roadmap outlines the critical skills shortage challenges that the 3D printing industry currently faces and proposes how it intends to address them through to 2030.

Along with the roadmap, the SAM project also introduced IAMQS. Backed by a quality assurance system, IAMQS is comprised of a set of qualifications for different skill levels in 3D printing technologies that are aligned with industry requirements and validated by experts.

IAMQS is deployed through a network of selected training providers with connections to multiple industries that benefit from 3D printing. The SAM project has now published a new set of survey results related to additive manufacturing education for sustainability.

"Green skills" addressed by current training courses in additive manufacturing.  Image via the SAM project.
“Green skills” addressed by current training courses in additive manufacturing. Image via the SAM project.

SAM survey results

The role of environmental sustainability education is becoming increasingly important as European citizens face new professional challenges in a multitude of different industrial sectors. To adapt to these changes, many workers will need to retrain to acquire new skills or expand their existing skills, and the need to provide green, digital and entrepreneurial skills, alongside technical skills, will become increasingly crucial. in order to show the benefits of implementing sustainable processes in industrial ecosystems.

While environmental and climate goals appear to be viewed with great importance by the European Commission and United Nations policy agendas, these goals are not achievable without an education for sustainable development approach, SAM says.

Currently, IAMQS covers metal additive manufacturing processing qualifications for operators, designers, supervisors, inspectors, coordinators and engineers, as well as a polymer qualification for designers. Although environmentally conscious elements such as life cycle assessments, waste management and material reuse appear in these qualifications, there has not yet been a dedicated training program on the sustainability aspects of 3D printing.

The 2020 survey conducted by SAM on the analysis of additive manufacturing needs saw more than 100 European training centers offering 3D printing courses contacted to understand and map the educational practices employed. Thanks to this survey, it was possible to assess the skills most discussed, namely: technological (related to AM), green, digital and entrepreneurial.

The “green skills” identified by the SAM project are linked to resource efficiency, environmental awareness, life cycle analyzes, eco-design, circular economy, green resources and green products. The survey identified that eco-design (37%), circular economy (35%) and life cycle analysis (32%) were the “green skills” most addressed by training courses current on 3D printing.

For workers, the top three green skills that should be covered in additive manufacturing training courses are eco-design, circular economy and life cycle analysis, the survey found. A similar point of view is shared by managers, 86% of survey respondents wanting green skills to be developed within their workforce.

The relevance of "green skills" within additive manufacturing.  Image via the SAM project.
The relevance of “green skills” within additive manufacturing. Image via the SAM project.

A new training unit for sustainable development

After validation by the Industry Council, one of the pillars of the European Observatory, the SAM consortium has decided to develop a training unit on sustainable development for additive manufacturing, within which green awareness will be addressed. , the circular economy and life cycle analyzes. The course is designed to educate all 3D printing professionals, from operators to designers and engineers.

The course is aligned with level 3 of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and aims to provide students with a basic knowledge of the economic and social context of sustainable development policies, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN, and how to integrate sustainability throughout the life cycle of a product.

Students of the course will also learn how the additive manufacturing industry is currently implementing sustainable practices, as well as their limitations and benefits. From a skills perspective, the course will teach participants how to spot ideas and opportunities for more sustainable processes and methods in 3D printing operations, and help them identify cases where 3D printing could lead. to more sustainable products.

In practice, the course will last seven hours recommended, which corresponds to 14 hours of workload including self-study. At the end of the course, participants’ knowledge and skills regarding sustainability in additive manufacturing will be assessed via a short written multiple-choice assessment.

More information on the Additive Manufacturing Sustainability Survey can be found in the article titled: “Impact of additive manufacturing on environmental sustainability”, co-written by S. Masurtschak and A. Almeida.

The SAM project also has another survey underway aimed at Research and Development organizations, called: “AM skills and trends survey for RTOs”, in which interested parties can participate here.

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Featured Image Shows “Green skills” addressed by current training courses in additive manufacturing. Image via the SAM project.