Raytheon is hiring 4,500 engineers this year but can’t find enough qualified candidates. “That’s a frightening problem for a company like ours,” CEO William Swanson said in remarks prepared for a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce this week.
Thirty percent of the four million Americans in ninth grade in 2001 dropped out of high school, Swanson said. And fewer than 280,000 majored in a technical field in college, and only 167,000 will earn a scientific or technical degree by 2011. And a mere 64,000 will become engineers. “Compared to China, India, and other parts of the world,” he said, “it’s a drop in the bucket.”
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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