SME, a non-profit professional association dedicated to advancing manufacturing, and Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP), a global organization with a mission to close the gender gap in Additive Manufacturing (AM), are partnering to attract and build a diverse next gen workforce to advance the AM industry.
“SME has been enabling the development and growth of the Additive Manufacturing industry since the late 1980’s and we continue to be inspired by its people and technology,” said Robert Willig, CEO, SME. “Collaboration is crucial, and we are excited to embark on this strategic partnership with Women in 3D Printing, an organization that shares our passion for promoting and advancing Additive Manufacturing and creating a more inclusive industry for everyone.”
Willig said combining SME’s 90-years of manufacturing experience, vast resources, and scope with Wi3DP’s passionate network and robust programs will accelerate their shared mission to develop technology, connection, inclusivity, and opportunities to introduce the next generation to the benefits of a career in AM. This is an important step in closing the skills gap.
“It is important that the Additive Manufacturing industry is reflective of the real world, and we want to send a clear message that it is for everyone,” said Nora Toure, Founder, Women in 3D Printing, an all-volunteer organization. “We were looking for a partner to help us access even more people in the Additive community in more ways, and we are proud to join SME, with its decades of expertise, on this important mission.”
With a mission of promoting, supporting, and inspiring women using AM technologies, Wi3DP seeks to foster a more diverse industry. In just seven years, Wi3DP has grown from a simple blog to one of the largest AM communities worldwide, with over 80 chapters in 36 countries.
The collaboration initially includes four initiatives:
• TIPE 2023 Conference, focused on Technology, Industry, People and Economics, will now be co-produced and powered by SME and Wi3DP. This supports a shared goal of offering AM engagement and education year-round, including through digital platforms.
• SME’s 2023 RAPID + TCT. SME and Wi3DP will launch the “Wi3DP Showcase” at RAPID + TCT next year in Chicago. This important showcase will extend the value of TIPE with an in-person experience.
• NextGen Mentorship Pilot. Recognizing the importance of workforce development, with a shared commitment to the next generation, SME and Wi3DP will partner on a NextGen Mentorship pilot program, expanding on Wi3DP’s existing program.
• Diversity for Additive Manufacturing 2023 Annual Report. Wi3DP and SME will co-author this annual measure of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Additive Industry. The report will look at how organizations are expanding and developing their workforce, while providing resources to make DEI accessible, understandable, and actionable.
SME has a long history in the AM world. Back in 1987, SME hosted its first Rapid Modeling Clinic. In the early 90s, what was known as the Rapid Prototyping Association, joined SME to become the Rapid Prototyping Association of SME. More recent milestones include: In 2008, SME/RTAM approached ASTM to form standards committee F-42; in 2012, SME played a key role in the launch of NAMII, now known as America Makes; in 2015, Tooling U-SME launched its first AM classes; in 2016, SME’s medical advisory group first approached DICOM to establish 3D printing standards; and in 2017, SME & Rapids News Group joined forces to expand and grow RAPID + TCT.
Today, the industry is growing and thriving, with SME offering a wide variety of AM resources to inspire, prepare and support companies, educators, and individuals. These include online classes, instructor-led training, Additive Virtual Reality Labs, certifications, scholarships, mentoring, events, webinars, networking, and more.
Recognizing the power of collaboration to create a more productive and competitive manufacturing environment, SME continues to grow its strategic partnerships with like-minded partners including American Makes, TCT, Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG), and now with Wi3DP.