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3D Printing vs Traditional Engineering: New Era of Engineering

  • by: Conor McKeon
  • On: 7, Dec 2017
3 min read

This year’s FormNext engineering & manufacturing event in Frankfurt revealed mammoth strides in 3D Printing, along with a wealth of upcoming engineering innovations. Will the recent technological advances signal a new era of engineering?

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers reports that UK companies will need to hire 265,000 new engineers every year for the next six years. Environmentally efficient vehicles such as electric and autonomous cars and green airplanes are increasing in popularity, opening up new opportunities for growth across industries and transforming business requirements for skilled labourers.

With engineering companies facing the prospect of recruiting for constantly evolving skillsets and serving a rapidly growing market of consumers, will new technology result in an engineering skills shortage or a welcome new era of engineering?

Strides in 3D Printing: A New Era of Engineering?

Technology has advanced more rapidly in the past 150 years than history ever predicted. The engineering industry is embracing new technologies and new methods and processes, with technology evolving to fit business, social and medical needs. Just this week a UCL laboratory is experimenting with printed children’s medicines, 3D Printing offers customised prosthetics to reverse hearing loss, and ‘living ink’ used in Switzerland sparks hope of creating 3D Printed human organs to aid organ transplantation and save lives.

Traditional technology and engineering brands are also embracing new methods of engineering. Celebrating its 130th year of trading, Kodak is developing a new 3D Printer and will incorporate 3D Printing into is product range to offer the Kodak 3D Printing Filament.Whilst Brexit is negatively affecting some UK industries including Financial Services, many international engineering companies are investing in UK industry. Autonomous vehicles are growing in popularity, and last week’s UK Autumn Budget awarded a £2.3bn investment into research and development, positioning engineering as a close partner for the automotive and transport industries for the next two years.

Engineering Skills Shortage: Inspiring a New Generation


Earlier this year 22% of UK manufacturing and engineering businesses put engineering skills shortages at the top of their agenda. As more seasoned workers enter retirement, engineering businesses are tasked with attracting, engaging and retaining a younger and more diverse talent pool of potential technical workers. How can UK engineering companies recruit the technical skills they need?

The UK engineering industry can look to business leaders in China for inspiration. Following the slow-down of growth in the Chinese economy, leaders are now looking to incorporate design methodologies into traditional engineering and MBA education programmes. The Chinese government and industry experts believe that by approaching engineering in a different way, the country can stimulate productivity and growth by combining two previously opposing ways of thinking to create unprecedented levels of innovation.

To attract new talent into the industry, engineering companies can embrace new technology or new ways of working, or embark upon research into what really interests potential technicians in the engineering industry. Businesses leaders not already investing in 3D Printing and other new technologies won’t necessarily miss out on the top talent – recruiting the best engineers simply requires an effective recruitment strategy that appeals to the needs of potential candidates and offers opportunities to learn.

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