Video: Is There a Personnel Challenge in Additive Manufacturing?

Adam Clark of Tangible Solutions sees the personnel advancing. The discipline of conventional manufacturing is coming to additive.


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During a panel discussion at the most recent Additive Manufacturing Conference, Adam Clark, CEO of Tangible Solutions, riffed on the changes he sees in manufacturing teams engaged in AM. Watch the video or read the transcript below.


Peter Zelinski, Additive Manufacturing

We've talked about technology, we’ve talked about process, design, technical challenges. Once you make the commitment to additive, is there a personnel challenge with that, too? Is there a skills and/or mindset and/or talent type of issue that goes with that?

Adam Clark, Tangible Solutions

I'll jump on that real quick. You know, I look at manufacturing as kind of like a unit, just manufacturing in general. I think you know I'm a veteran myself, but I do see a lot of similarities between manufacturing and the military. The reason I bring that up is because what I'm seeing in additive manufacturing now is more discipline for production, kind of to the point that was made before about using external suppliers or [doing additive] internally, and I think a lot of companies and OEMs are internalizing some of the builds because you can't trust that supplier base. You just can't. I mean, we've had our hurdles that we've had to overcome. But you're starting to see maturity, and with maturity becomes comes experience, and with experience comes discipline, and as you start to see the discipline, you start to see the workforce come out. And I see it, too, because we have millennials; everyone talks about it—I don't really see it as long as they're given the proper guidelines to deliver, and you're timing them and you're making sure everything's staying on a schedule. It's a totally different beast from what we've known for 50 years when it comes to our scheduling and product and shipping and vendors, and it's about developing that vendor network. Even for us, going and educating them and saying, “This is what to expect,” and “This is what we expect back from you,” and “This is what's going to happen here.” The challenges to developing that whole ecosystem comes with the personalities understanding it. You know they say every company needs a company [expletive]. You know, the guy that's going to be going around and just bashing on the table and telling everyone what to do and where to be and—excuse my language. Sorry Pete, my bad.

So anyway, back on point. You’ve got to have that personnel that's going to go around and keep everyone on point and we're starting to see that. We needed that as well. I mean, back in the day [we were] two guys in a garage bouncing around with headphones and whipping out parts to some of our local customers and it's not that case anymore. We had to change ourselves—the way we looked at the industry, the way we wanted to be presented to our customers—and then we just needed to recognize that we didn't know what we didn't know and we needed to bring in the proper type of board that had 30+ years of manufacturing experience to show us how to take new technology in a new industry and apply the disciplines of traditional manufacturing to make it work, and to make it work like American manufacturing should, and that's with excellence and quality. So, it's kind of a new-age old-school way of doing things, and combining it all together.