Disruptive Insight editorial comment, Issue 8

This month has thrown up some really interesting issues and debates, disseminated here for readers of Disruptive Insight from a variety of industry sources. I truly hope you find as much value in reading this issue as I have in putting it together. If you have an opinion, on any side of any of the debates and issues raised, then do let us know by sharing your thoughts with us directly or via the various social media channels of Disruptive Magazine.

One of the lengthier op-ed pieces comes from Russian national Fedor Antonov, who takes an interesting, and controversial, stance on the industry’s obsession with metal processes for production applications. Outlining the reasons for why this is so, the author posits his own views on why he believes this is the wrong approach.

My own op-ed piece focuses on the endlessly debated skills gap. This issue is approaching critical levels across the additive manufacturing (AM)/3D printing (3DP) industry, particularly for metal processes operating in manufacturing environments (ironically). Thus, I do not apologize for bringing it up again here and presenting new and different perspectives.

One trend I have picked up on is the need to differentiate between the AM/3DP skills required for research and production applications. Understanding the difference is vital to progress the technology in terms of process/material capabilities on the one hand and making it a true, workable solution for manufacturing applications on the shop floor.

Some people can get prickly about this, and it’s particularly noticeable if you talk about research and academia in industrial circles or vice versa. This needs to change. The point being, this is not a competition—both are really important to the future of the industry, but they require different approaches in terms of developing the skills required.

On the research side of things, it is timely to highlight some of the amazing projects coming out of the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing. As this feature shows, the breadth and depth of skills and insight driving future industrial processes and applications is both inspiring and reassuring.

On a final note, I have to return to the hype nonsense again. The award for most ridiculous 3D printing headline this month goes to Forbes (really should know better) for this priceless gem: ‘Who needs the Paris Climate Accords, when you have 3D Printing?’

I know the climate change debate is heated in the US right now, but from every angle (whether your thing is global sustainability, or 3D printing, or both) this headline is idiotic.

And, for the record, the answer would be ‘the world!’.




About Rachel Park

Rachel is a passionate advocate of additive manufacturing/3D printing technologies and the industry that has sprung up around it. However, as the hype and hyperbole has gathered momentum, her aim is always to offer a reasoned voice in the midst of inflated expectations and to cut through the noise in order to provide a realistic outlook of how things are.