3D printing. Not just for rocket scientist and brain surgeons.

3d printing, caterpillar

We have stressed the importance of enabling students in Australia to have to access to 3D printing and the technology in order to prepare them for the workforce of the future. This article is all about Caterpillar Inc. and their intensive use of Additive Manufacturing (AM). It shows that as the knowledge of 3D printing and its capabilities rapidly increase, businesses are eager to learn how to incorporate the technology effectively into their day-to-day business activities. The rapid adoption of the technology across the business world means it is crucial to give our kids a head start.

Caterpillar Inc. may not be the obvious choice when you suggest global companies with a high involvement in 3D printing, but they have successfully implemented the technology into everyday operations worldwide.

According to Caterpillar’s Additive Manufacturing product manager, Stacey DelVecchio, the best strategy when implementing 3D printing is to “Think big, start small, and act fast”. In 1991 Caterpillar installed their first stereolithography printer into their rapid prototyping lab. Once desktop 3D printers became available it was a common occurrence at caterpillar for engineers to have them on their desks.  The strategy to undertake the implementation of the printers was to start small, they started out by test piloting programs and working with early adopters on products before they implemented the strategy worldwide.

Forward-thinking executives at Caterpillar gave the go ahead to purchase AM systems and the printers were distributed across Caterpillar manufacturing facilities throughout the US and engineers were encouraged to use the machines and experiment with the technology. There was some success achieved through the machines but at first a lot of engineers were unsure of how to approach the technology. Caterpillar offered sessions and presentations designed to get the employees thinking about the technology.

Although the technology may seem as if it is new, it’s not and it’s already becoming a large part of business operations. 3D printing is a technology that will have a large impact on the world much like computers and introducing to kids young will ensure they are confident with the technology when they enter the workplace and are able to capitalise on the printer’s capabilities.

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