Did you know that UL offers a comprehensive series of trying programs for 3D printing?
UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, is perhaps the largest non-profit standards-setting organization in the world today. They provide testing that enables manufacturers to place certification marks on their products. Everyone has seen their familiar “UL” mark.
But did you know UL also provides training? In fact, they do a lot more than certifications. From their mandate:
UL certifies, validates, tests, verifies, inspects, audits, advises and educates. We provide the knowledge and expertise to help customers navigate growing complexities across the supply chain from compliance and regulatory issues to trade challenges and market access.
I’ve noticed they provide 3D print training, which appears to be quite comprehensive. Here’s an outline of their program:
Tier 1: Foundations
Foundations of 3D Printing Workshop and Technology Demo
Foundations of 3D Printing: eLearning
Tier 2: Technical & Economics Training
Fundamentals of AM Designs (AM = Additive Manufacturing)
Design Strategies for AM
Additive Manufacturing Economics
Managing Quality & Safety in AM
Selecting AM Materials & Processes
Tier 3: Advanced AM Training
Advanced Training on Metal Part Production
You’ll note they don’t focus on use of particular machines, but instead center their program around skills transferable to many different 3D printing environments. Such skills are tremendously important because they enable a practitioner to use the equipment in an optimum manner. Design for 3D print is a bit different than one would employ for other manufacturing environments, for example.
I’m also quite pleased to see a segment on the economics of 3D printing, which can be quite confusing in a shared environment, such as what you might find in a 3D print service bureau.
As you might expect, the course program includes a segment on quality an safety. Here’s its description:
Managing Quality and Safety in AM provides students a working knowledge of process and material hazard management and how to assure quality and safety in part production. This course is available at multiple locations including the UL AMCC.
I’m not sure there is another course available that focuses on 3D print safety, which is ignored by many vendors in the space, particularly on low-end equipment, which frequently include multiple hazards when in use.
These courses are available in a variety of formats, including in-person private workshops, occasional public seminars and also online.
You might be wondering why UL would deploy courses of this breadth. I believe it is part of a larger, long-term scheme to nudge the industry towards use of more equipment. If UL can encourage more use - and safe use - of 3D printing equipment, they stand to perform additional certifications.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.