Terry Wohlers will collaborate with Protolabs on a Designing for Additive Manufacturing design course. (Photo courtesy of Terry Wohlers)

The event follows the digital manufacturer’s recent initiatives with GE Additive and MIT, aimed at advancing 3D printing.

MINNEAPOLIS—Knowledge of design for manufacturing (DFM) is crucial for engineers responsible for producing parts via processes like casting, machining, or molding. But when it comes to the various additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing technologies, the number of designers and engineers who know how to design for these processes pales by comparison.

That’s why the digital manufacturer Protolabs has teamed with Wohlers Associates, a prominent additive manufacturing (AM) consulting firm, in a joint effort to accelerate educational opportunities in design for additive manufacturing (DfAM). The two like-minded organizations bring decades of combined AM experience to an immersive course created to help engineers and designers develop practical methods and strategies to get the most from different 3D printing technologies.

The invitation-only course, titled Designing for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM), will take place over three days near Raleigh, North Carolina, and will conclude at Protolabs’ state-of-the-art 3D printing facility, reported to be the largest in North America at 77,000 square feet.

Leading the discussion will be Olaf Diegel, associate consultant at Wohlers Associates, and Terry Wohlers, principal consultant and president at the company. Diegel also serves as head of the Creative Design and Additive Manufacturing Lab at the University of Auckland. Joining Wohlers and Diegel are additive manufacturing engineers from Protolabs, with expertise in both polymer and metal 3D printing technologies.

“Designing for AM offers unique challenges and opportunities not found in traditional design methods,” said Wohlers in a press release. “Protolabs brings tremendous depth of expertise and leadership in 3D printing. We’re thrilled to work together to equip attendees with technical skills and manufacturing knowledge needed to unlock the full potential of additive manufacturing.”

The course is another step towards Protolabs’ larger goal of advancing industrial 3D printing as a legitimate production player in the manufacturing industry. Last year, the company joined GE Additive’s Manufacturing Partner Network and later became a founding member of MIT’s Center for Additive and Digital Advanced Production Technologies (ADAPT)—a consortium focused on scaling new manufacturing technology through research, education, actionable insights, and an MIT-based ecosystem that pairs industry and academia.

“Additive manufacturing has moved well beyond this worn-out notion that it has to prove its worth—we’ve seen firsthand its maturation over the years and have literally 3D printed millions of parts during that time,” said Protolabs President and CEO, Vicki Holt. “We know it’s an extremely valuable prototyping tool, but it has now made significant strides in materials and technology, where production is its logical next phase. Collaborating with the world’s leading additive experts—and those who look to leverage that technology to its fullest—will serve to proliferate the education and adoption of 3D printing.”

Protolabs (www.protolabs.com) is a digital manufacturing source for rapid prototyping and on-demand production. The technology-enabled company produces custom parts and assemblies in as fast as one day with automated 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, and injection molding processes. Its digital approach to manufacturing enables accelerated time to market, reduces development and production costs, and minimizes risk throughout the product life cycle, the company said.

Wohlers Associates (www.wohlersassociates.com) provides technical, market, and strategic advice on the new developments and trends in rapid product development and additive manufacturing.

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