About TJ McCue

I research and write about many STEM topics -- from Materials Science to 3D Printing to Nanotechnology, among other tech topics.

May Roundup of Materials Science News Updates

In our April post: Keeping Up with Materials Science Research and Trends Impacting Education and the Workforce, we highlighted a number of sites that offer research you can use to evaluate and understand the world of materials science and additive manufacturing, including a curated list of relevant World Economic Forum posts, along with their Transformation Map on Advanced Materials (well worth the time to study). 

Liquid Molten Steel Industry

In case you missed it, Materials Education experts added new modules to help educators, students, and others to teach and learn about materials science. Check out all the new Powerpoint and PDF downloads here: New Modules on MatEdU. To give you an idea of the topic diversity:

  • Introduction to Magnetic Composites – PDF
  • Additive Manufacturing of Magnetic Materials – PDF
  • Fused Filament Manufacturing of Magnetic Composites – PDF
  • Lithium, The 3rd Element
  • 3D Printing Filament Recycling and Re-Use
  • Very Berry Solar Cells
  • The Global Impact of Design and Innovation
  • Videoing Individual Relationships with Earth’s Elements and Materials
  • Evaluating the Next Generation of Solar Cells

Some of the big news late last year included that Wohlers Associates was acquired by ASTM International. The well-known publisher of the 3D Printing “Bible” and a major resource to those developing and exploring new materials, Wohlers Associates, will continue to work with ASTM to produce the annual Wohlers Report (link takes you to the MatEdU Post with a short list of the top materials updates from the annual report).

At the Federal level, the White House announced a new program for Additive Manufacturing, called AM Forward, that will likely drive innovation within the Materials world. According to the announcement and Fact Sheet

“AM Forward builds on that work and advances key Administration goals:

  • More resilient and innovative supply chains, by investing in small and medium sized companies;
  • Growing industries of the future, overcoming coordination challenges that limit adoption of new technologies like additive manufacturing; and
  • Both inventing and making more in America, through investments in regional manufacturing ecosystems.

Each of these goals is also advanced by the Bipartisan Innovation Act (BIA), which establishes a Supply Chain Office at the Department of Commerce, supports foundational technologies such as additive manufacturing, and invests in regional tech hubs as well as increasing funding for Manufacturing USA Institutes and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.”

Materials Science on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram

As you would expect, we follow and track various hashtags, such as #MaterialsScience across a range of platforms. We even keep up on TikTok around #MaterialScience (although we prefer to spell it with an “S” on the end). 

Let us know if you find any interesting posts on social media and we’ll check them out, too. 

Wohlers Report 2022 Finds Strong Industry-Wide Growth

Wohlers Associates, the well-known additive manufacturing consultancy firm, and close ally of both MatEdU and TEAMM, recently acquired by ASTM International, released its annual report: Wohlers Report 2022.

MatEdU News and AM News (from our sister organization TEAMM) have both published details from the report over its many years of serving the AM industry (links below). The annual report focuses on the state of 3D printing and often highlights important advances within materials science. 

Key takeaways from the 425-page 2022 report show the additive manufacturing industry grew by 19.5 percent in 2021, which is up from 7.5% growth in 2020. This is largely attributed to a sustained, global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Polymer Powder

As the above image shows, from the report, “As the technology and industry mature, a growing number of companies are using AM for custom products and series production, according to the new report. A sign is the growth of polymer powder consumption in 2021, which grew by 43.3% to overtake photopolymers as the most used AM material.”

The materials section digs in the companies producing new materials or modifying materials for industry needs. Many of these smaller, nimble materials manufacturers are often of interest to academic partners within the National Science Foundation network for their research projects and community initiatives. 

3D Printing Materials

Some useful examples from the materials chapter:

  • Taulman3D offers t-glase, a tough, clear PET material, which has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for food contact and containers. TreeD makes a range of ‘exotic’ filaments, including clay-filled and bone-like materials.
  • Materials provider Proto-pasta creates filaments in brass, bronze, copper, iron, or steel powder with a PLA binder. ColorFabb of the Netherlands produces a variety of metal-filled PLA filaments. Parts can be polished, tarnished, and rusted like traditional metal parts.
  • Some suppliers are producing metal-filled filaments to create a metal part… BASF announced its Ultrafuse filament. Many small and large printer manufacturers, such as BCN3D, Desktop Metal, and Markforged have integrated this capability into proprietary systems.

Although the report section on materials and processes is a favorite here at MatEdU News, it also covers almost everything you need to know to stay informed about additive manufacturing in the USA and around the world — one of the reasons it is called the “Bible of 3D printing.” 

Here are some of the new and expanded features of Wohlers Report 2022:    

  • scaling AM into production;
  • workforce development and sustainability;
  • Women in 3D Printing;
  • ground-breaking R&D programs;
  • reports from industry experts in 34 countries; and
  • the future of AM

More information on Wohlers Report 2022 is available here.

As mentioned above, here are three recent posts from MatEdU News and TEAMM:

  • Wohlers Associates Report on Additive Manufacturing Post-Processing – Materials Education (MatEdU)
    • Post-processing is one of three major phases of producing 3D-printed parts. According to research conducted for Wohlers Report 2021, nearly 27% of the cost of producing AM parts comes from post-processing. The study involved input from 124 service providers in 27 countries. The following chart presents the cost segmentation between pre-processing, printing, and post-processing among companies that offer both metal and polymer AM.

Keeping Up with Materials Science Research and Trends Impacting Education and the Workforce

In late 2021, Mel Cossette, Executive Director and Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education-funded Online Instructional Resources for Material Science Technology Education (home of MatEdU News) spoke about Industry 4.0 and what it means for the manufacturing workforce. 

Yellow off road traffic sign with industry 4.0 ahead text on blue sky. Horizontal composition with copy space.

Learn more about her presentation: Manufacturing Jobs Are Big Part Of The Future Of Work

The three biggest trends to watch, according to many of these reports and links, include:

  1. Using artificial intelligence (AI) to create new materials, known as “Generative AI” an engineer enters project parameters and the software creates multiple versions. It is like putting 1,000 (or more) materials scientist brains against a question or idea and speeding up the process of discovery. 
  2. Materials advances in biological areas from pharmaceutical (3D printing personalized medicines) to implants to research (that will undoubtedly lead to more new areas where materials will guide healthcare). 
  3. Sustainability in Materials Science is the last major trend we spotted in this exploration. Although there are many other big changes coming to the world of materials, finding a way to combine Industry 4.0 concepts with the Circular Economy (aka sustainability) is crucial to smart science.

Industry 4.0, as a quick refresher, is shorthand for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and sometimes abbreviated as 4IR. It has given and is currently providing innovation on an unprecedented scale, including robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing (additive manufacturing), biotechnology, and nanotechnology (post on a Micro Nano partner site highlighting growing in materials scientist jobs), to name but a few. Research and trends around Industry 4.0 frequently include how materials science is influencing this larger trend.

Starting with the first trend and speaking to Mel Cossette’s insights about how manufacturing jobs are building our future, Generative AI for New Materials advances, is the focus of this Redshift by Autodesk piece: AI in Manufacturing: How It’s Used and Why It’s Important for Future Factories.

One of the top resources for keeping up with current research and trends in materials science and connected industries and niches is the World Economic Forum. There is a free level account and it grants you access to the many ways that they curate and then organize data on a wide range of topics impacting the world’s economies. 

We did a search on materials science and here is a glimpse of the many posts that they pull into what they call “Transformation Maps.” This chart is interactive and allows you to see related concepts and topics and to click into those sections. It is robust and extremely helpful if you are trying to get a sense of the space. Hang on for a big list of resource and trend links below…

Screenshot of WEF Transformation Map on “Advanced Materials” with related categories.

The Top Tech Trends post by McKinsey shows materials advances will impact many industries: 

Graphene Research at Rice University

“Developments in materials science have the potential to transform multiple market sectors, including pharma, energy, transportation, health, semiconductors and manufacturing. Such materials include graphene – a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice configuration, which is around 200 times stronger than steel, despite its incredible thinness. It is also a very efficient conductor and promises to revolutionize semiconductor performance. Another is molybdenum disulfide – nanoparticles of which are already being used in flexible electronics.”

— McKinsey Top Tech Trends

McKinsey also highlights that a bio revolution is underway thanks to these materials advances: “Propelled by AI, automation and DNA sequencing, the bio revolution promises the development of gene-therapies, hyper-personalized medicines and genetics-based guidance on food and exercise.”

These changes also mean job opportunities, and that is why the National Science Foundation funds a wide and deep range of advanced technological education projects like MatEdU and the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) (with its many partners including InnovATEBIO profiled here in 2021) to build the curriculum and training modules needed by students and industry. Biotech Careers offers a detailed look at that intersection where trends meet job opportunity. The MNT-EC Industry Partner page gives an idea of how NSF projects pull in companies looking to be part of the work to build educational programs that meet student interest and employer needs.

Materials advances through the methods mentioned above only give a glimpse into part of what makes rapid iterations work — researchers cannot iterate without testing and it happens in a big way through 3D Printing. ASME recently posted: Metamaterials Expand Possibilities in Biomedical Engineering and it confirms, at least in part, how metamaterials are fabricated quickly using additive manufacturing (aka 3D Printing).

The National Library of Medicine: National Center of Biotechnology Information has a large volume (of course) of materials-oriented nanobio medical and health articles. Here are a few:

For the mega-trend of sustainability, the World Economic Forum kicks things into gear: Upskill for Green Jobs of the Future. ASME explains how Ceramic Materials Advance Climate Change Efforts.

Greentown Labs is aiming to be the leading hub for startups (and the wonderful people building them) to work toward the shared goal of a sustainable, renewable future. Their relatively new Careers in Climatetech newsletter provides a glimpse into the materials science work happening, but also across clean tech / green tech science and engineering.

We will continue to add insights, trends, and research that can help you keep up with the world of materials science and education. If you know of some interesting research or have trend data, send it our way.

New Modules on MatEdU

One of the primary goals of our materials education “MatEdU” site is to provide educators with ready-to-use educational materials, or more specifically course curriculum in the form of modules that can be downloaded as PDFs or PowerPoint slides or occasionally other document formats. In the last month, nine new modules were added and they focus on topics that are in high demand.

When you click the links below, your browser will likely download the file automatically and not open a specific web page. However, you can also go and search within the MatEdU Modules section for these titles to read a bit more about them (search for the title or author to quickly get the module you want). The new modules cover composites, solar cells, Lithium, 3D printing, design, and materials (in general).

Introduction to Magnetic Composites – PDF

Introduction to Magnetic Composites – PPTX

Grady, K., “Introduction to Magnetic Composites,” 2020. Middle School, High School and Introductory College levels.

Additive Manufacturing of Magnetic Materials – PDF

Additive Manufacturing of Magnetic Materials – PPTX

Hasanov, S., “Additive Manufacturing of Magnetic Materials,” 2020.    Advanced High School and Introductory College levels.

Fused Filament Manufacturing of Magnetic Composites – PDF

Fused Filament Manufacturing of Magnetic Composites – PPTX

Hasanov, S., “Fused Filament Manufacturing of Magnetic Composites,” 2020. Advanced High School and Introductory College levels.

Lithium, The 3rd ElementPDF

Grady, K., Liu, J., and Stoebe, T., “Lithium, The 3rd Element,” 2021. High School and Introductory College levels.

3D Printing Filament Recycling and Re-Use – PDF

Chinn, B., “3D Printing Filament Recycling and Re-Use,”  2021. Advanced High School and Introductory College level.

Very Berry Solar CellsPDF

Solomonson, C., “Very berry solar cells,”  2021. Advanced High School and Introductory College levels.

The Global Impact of Design and InnovationPDF

Davishahl, J and Misasi, J, “The Global Impact of Design and Innovation,” 2021. Advanced High School and Introductory College levels.

Videoing Individual Relationships with Earth’s Elements and MaterialsPDF

Johnson, Craig, “Videoing individual’s relationships with Earth’s elements and Materials,”  2021. High School and Introductory College levels.

Evaluating the Next Generation of Solar CellsPDF

Schlenker, Cody and Hendrickson, Danica, “Evaluating the Next Generation of Solar Cells,” 2021. College level.

If you are an educator in need of lessons for your classroom around materials science, there are dozens here that may be of use in the MatEdU Modules (link above) or you can also check out the larger collection under Instructional Resources.

Monthly Roundup of Materials Science Trends, News, and Updates

On our sister site TEAMM AM News (focused on additive manufacturing and materials), we introduced a section called the Editor’s Corner, to share a monthly list of curated articles, videos, and social feeds that we discovered as we worked on the website and met with our partners. We want to share the same approach here on the Online Instructional Resources for Material Science Technology Education (MatEdU)

We are honored to report a small (big) mention on the National Science Foundation (NSF) Crosscutting Activities in Materials Research (XC) page. The site mentions both the National Resource Center for Materials Education, focusing on community college-level education and the M-STEM (Materials in STEM) annual workshop archives. The recognition is appreciated. 

NSF Science Nation

Speaking of NSF, they have a YouTube channel section or series called Science Nation, where they profile a variety of materials science advances (as you know, MatSci is in everything, but the channel is not entirely focused on materials…). This 2021 video on Quantum Crystals highlights how “Josh Goldberger and his team at the Ohio University have created a crystal that may one day re-write the book on how electronics operate,” according to the YouTube summary. 

The summary also explains a bit more about the research: “Cornell University will lead a Materials Innovation Platform, a new NSF mid-scale instrumentation program supported in the Division of Materials Research (PARADIM). The platform seeks to advance fundamental understanding of oxide-based hetero-interfaces with a range of two-dimensional (2D) material systems including oxides, chalcogenides and graphene through transformational research and mid-scale investments in instrumentation for bulk and thin film crystal growth and characterization. The research in this episode was supported by grant: #1539918. 

Clean Drinking Water from Air

This one sounds like an idea out of Star Trek – water from air. But if you follow this link, you will find out there’s been some innovative materials science and micro nano sensor work making it possible to extract water from air with solar powered hydropanels. 

According to Forbes, “An Arizona company, SOURCE, and its founder, Cody Friesen, a materials scientist and associate professor at Arizona State University, spent nearly seven years developing the Source Hydropanel… Pure water is mineralized with magnesium and calcium to achieve an ideal taste profile. Finally, sensors in each hydropanel monitor and optimize the water to maintain quality. The hydropanels produce an average of 3-5 liters of clean drinking water per day (or up to 1.3 gallons).”  This post was originally shared on the Micro Nano Education news page

Two more clean energy mentions: One of our partners and collaborators, the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials (JCDREAM), is on the right track with its goal to find and explore existing alternatives and future alternatives with “earth-abundant materials.” More and more clean energy experts and analysts are calling attention to challenges ahead. Twitter account Soli shared this: “Some individual minerals will see particularly sharp jumps. The World Bank says, “graphite and lithium demand are so high that current production would need to ramp up by nearly 500% by 2050 under a [2 degree scenario] just to meet demand.”). JCDREAM is working hard to find alternatives. 

Jobs, Research, Internships

Deadline approaching for Research Associate at the Louisiana State University Audubon Sugar Institute on February 2, 2022: “We are hiring! Come work with me at the Audubon Sugar Institute @LSUAgCenter to research exciting issues about LA sugarcane. If you are interested in sensors, data science, sustainability and renewable materials, please apply…”

If you know of upcoming research opportunities, internships, or jobs for two year and four year students, please send them to us. We cannot include all of them, but a big part of our mission is to help students find meaningful career opportunities.

Related to work, in a recent national presentation, Principal Investigator Mel Cossette shared how manufacturing is a big part of the future of work

Materials Science on Twitter

The Society of Women Engineers has a wide range of excellent resources and attention-getting blog posts. A recent share on Twitter led us to this post from the SWE:  Check out the interviews below with Materials Science and Engineering students Katherine and Andrea to learn more about their experiences and how you can #BeThatEngineer!

The SWE article also pointed us to this fascinating, in-depth piece on the James Webb telescope and the work of Sandra Irish. If you are not following the NASA Webb account on Twitter, start now.

Until next month,

Manufacturing Jobs Are Big Part Of The Future Of Work

Manufacturing Day is held on the first Friday of October. Organized by the National Association of Manufacturers, the nationwide event seeks to increase awareness among students, parents, educators and the general public about modern manufacturing and to make it clear that there are many career opportunities, in addition to pointing out that manufacturing has changed dramatically — it is cleaner, with advanced technology, and far more hip than its smokestack past. 

Most states do as the name suggests — have a one day event filled with factory tours and event presentations. But in New Mexico, they run Manufacturing Day for the entire month. 

The New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) organizes and sponsors events and a 3-Day Advanced Manufacturing Summit (that link takes you to each day’s virtual presentations on YouTube).

Mel Cossette, Executive Director and Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education funded Online Instructional Resources for Material Science Technology Education (home of MatEdU News) housed at Edmonds College in Lynnwood, WA, presented on Workforce Development. She is also the Co-PI on a newly funded NSF ATE Micro Nano Technology Education Center and Co-PI on the MANEUVER Project with Purdue Northwest. Mel has 20+ years of experience in manufacturing education focusing on technician education and workforce development. 

Ms. Cossette opened with the importance of embracing the future workforce, with all of its changes and opportunities. As you can see in the image above, people are searching for manufacturing jobs. She then went through a variety of manufacturing areas and how they all lead to growth in manufacturing as a career:

  • Additive Manufacturing (aka 3D Printing)
  • ASTM and technician training and core competencies (and how the Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials — TEAMM was a big part of defining those new standards)
  • Manufacturing Workforce and new skills needed

She highlighted a variety of statistics to help attendees wrap their minds around just how big and vast the manufacturing job market is:

  • Preliminary numbers indicate there will be 942,000 manufacturing job openings – from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2021.
  • Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute (NAM) reported — 2.4 million manufacturing jobs may go unfilled by 2028.

“To be prepared, not only for today’s jobs but for those of a rapidly changing, highly automated future, technicians will need skills beyond those required by their specific role and industry,” she said. 

In summary, Ms. Cossette said that “we need to embrace the future of the manufacturing workforce… as the start of my presentation I heard this cool comment made by one of the manufacturing folks here. Powell has said, manufacturing is a cool career. I agree.”

PAC Maritime Receives Center of Excellence Designation

On May 19, 2021, the Pacific Northwest Maritime Education Alliance (PAC Maritime) was designated as Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD). MatEdU News would like to offer congratulations to our long-time partner and ally, NW Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing & Technology, and the PAC Maritime team, for this recognition and important work building up Washington and Oregon maritime workforces.

Northwest Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing and Technology

According to the MARAD news release: “The Maritime Administration is pleased to announce the designation of 27 Centers of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (CoE). These CoEs include 19 community or technical colleges, 6 maritime training centers, and 2 groups of community or technical colleges and maritime training centers. The 27 CoE designees are in 36 cities in 16 states and 1 union territory.  CoE designees are committed to assisting the maritime industry in obtaining and maintaining a high quality and diverse workforce.” 

The Initiative is a collaboration of six community and technical colleges and the (NW) Center of Excellence and is a response to federal legislation signed into law December 12, 2017.  The college partners are:

  1. Skagit Valley College (lead institution)
  2. North Seattle College
  3. Seattle Central College
  4. South Seattle College
  5. Clark College
  6. Portland Community College

As MatEdU News readers know, materials are at the center of many industries (dare we say, all industries). Ann Avary’s work and commitment has led her to create and assist in materials education for the region. She has recently spearheaded several other initiatives that involves materials, in various ways:

Composites Washington 

Composites Washington was another alliance (similar to the CoE above) of community and technical colleges, formed to advance Washington’s leadership role in manufacturing, this time in the global composites industry. The consortiums’ efforts were focused on enhancing the competitiveness of Washington’s exceptional composites workforce by providing innovative, relevant education and training to faculty, students, and the incumbent workforce.  

Other industries, such as aviation, are keenly interested in those who have training in composites and an understanding of materials science. Here are a few from Edmonds College: 

Under the Washington Aerospace Training & Research (WATR) Center, there is a Composites Certificate. In the Engineering Technology program, there are two degrees with a Composites training built into the curriculum.

Nine additional Washington two-year schools were part of the Composites Washington initiative and have committed to materials education in their programs, they include: 

  1. Bellingham Technical College
  2. Clover Park Technical College
  3. Edmonds Community College 
  4. Everett Community College 
  5. Olympic College
  6. Peninsula College 
  7. Skagit Valley College
  8. South Seattle Community College 
  9. Spokane Community College 
  10. Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing 
  11. Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing and Technology 

The work of Composites Washington evolved into the formation of Materials Washington, recognizing the broad impact and scope of multiple material platforms utilized across industry sectors in Washington and nationally.

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Project 

A marine technology project the NW Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing & Technology is sponsoring includes the ROV Project via the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center based at Monterey Peninsula College in California. This project will provide an experiential platform for students from NW Career and Technical Academy in Anacortes.

The rationale for this proof-of-concept pilot is to provide access for high school students to a hands-on marine technology project, utilizing Pufferfish ROV kits from the MATE Center.  The project will incorporate hands-on learning, problem solving, data analysis, teamwork, and marine technology/STEM concepts.  It will also introduce an ROV pathway for students and instructors.

The NSF-funded MATE Center mission is to help prepare America’s future workforce for ocean-related occupations. The Center utilizes information from employers to improve and develop educational programs with a focus on marine technology.

Workforce Data Pilot

Most NSF-funded projects and initiatives are deeply interested and committed to delivering workforce success stories. The goal of most educational programs is to help students, veterans, and those considering a change in careers (returning adult students) find the job that is right for them. As part of that, ten Washington State Centers of Excellence are leading a workforce data project to study industry needs combined with education and training data. 

According to Ms. Avary, “The Workforce Data Pilot will identify, extract, format and deliver workforce and related data, using the Chmura JobsEQ RTI platform. This project will demonstrate the use and effectiveness of occupational, industry and other data to the workforce education and training system. Ten Centers of Excellence are participating in the pilot project and will fully engage in the development of the project rubric, collection of data, and the report of findings and recommendations at the end of the pilot.”

For those who want to learn more about the proprietary Chmura JobsEQ RTI workforce and economic management tools, visit this page. The company also offers several workforce- and education-specific blog posts and case studies aimed at secondary and postsecondary institutions. Here are a few: 

We will be keeping track of Ann Avary and her team’s success at these important projects and pilots and will report back with details from the various reports and summaries when they are completed.

Wohlers Associates Report on Additive Manufacturing Post-Processing

As a close ally of the Online Instructional Resources for Material Science Technology Education (MatEdU), Wohlers Associates is a helpful and well-known resource for those interested in materials science, additive manufacturing (AM), and other advanced technology areas that impact technician education and materials education.

Photo by Minkus on Unsplash

In fact, many educators who have downloaded lessons and coursework from the MatEdU Module library, specifically around Materials Processing, will be keen to learn a bit about Wohlers Associates new report, Post-Processing of AM and 3D-Printed Parts. In it, the firm explains methods that industrial additive manufacturers are using to efficiently removing support material (if you click through to the order page, you can see some of the following methods listed out):

  • 11 approaches to finishing and smoothing surfaces of parts
  • 7 ways to color, coat, and protect parts
  • 7 methods of heat treatment

There are many educational institutions that purchase various reports from Wohlers Associates, so readers may be able to find them in school libraries or through inter-library loans. 

Post-processing is one of three major phases of producing 3D-printed parts. According to research conducted for Wohlers Report 2021, nearly 27% of the cost of producing AM parts comes from post-processing. The study involved input from 124 service providers in 27 countries. The following chart presents the cost segmentation between pre-processing, printing, and post-processing among companies that offer both metal and polymer AM.

Wohlers Associates Post Processing Report Chart

For 2-year and 4-year college students working on ideas and methods for producing parts on a 3D printer, post-processing is a large part of the production calculation. For instance, according to Wohlers Associates, “the post-processing steps for metal powder bed fusion (PBF) include the removal of powder, thermal stress relief, and the separation of parts and support material from the build plate. They also include the removal of supports from parts, media blasting, and machining and grinding. Some parts may require hot isotropic pressing, additional heat treatment, anodizing, and inspection. If post-processing is not scaled and streamlined accordingly, bottlenecks will occur, especially with large quantities.”

A tip from Wohlers: “Design for additive manufacturing is a key to reducing time and costs associated with post-processing. For example, orient metal PBF parts so the faces to be machined are facing downward. These down-facing surfaces will be rough due to the support material, so use this to your advantage.”

You can search the Wohlers Associates blog for Additive Manufacturing Processing tips as well as ideas around designing for additive manufacturing in various blog posts. 

MatEdU Modules on Additive Manufacturing offer course frameworks and lessons for those who are new to 3D printing and looking to introduce the technology to students. If you are interested in a detailed, high-level module on Additive Manufacturing of Magnetic Materials, then scroll down in the above linked list for the post by Dr. Seymur Hasanov and Dr. Ismail Fidan at Tennessee Tech University. 

Sign Up Now: TTU Offers Digital Manufacturing Instruction using Virtual Reality

In a study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute (2021), an estimated 2.1 million manufacturing-related jobs may go unfilled by 2030 — and this could cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion. MatEdU News and its partners have reported on the manufacturing skills gap before (in this Materials Science Careers post, for example) and offered educational strategies to help mitigate it, including a new training workshop in early 2022.


A wide range of universities and colleges, including Tennessee Tech University, Edmonds College, Purdue University Northwest (links go to related programs or professors), and many others, are lining up to help educators guide students to deeper understanding and knowledge of advanced manufacturing methods, using cutting edge technology and innovative approaches. 

Using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), the upcoming workshop in January 2022 will give educators the tools to, at minimum, keep up with, and hopefully outrun this seemingly faster skills gap. Manufacturers are looking for new ways to teach workers new skills and VR and AR are increasingly being used. Community college professors and high school educators can use this workshop to move to the forefront of this shift to speed up and improve training for and student awareness of manufacturing. 

From January 10 – 14, 2022, this NSF-funded virtual workshop on Digital Manufacturing (DM) Instruction using Virtual Reality (VR) technology will cover VR-based digital manufacturing instruction practices. 

The workshop is directed toward community college instructors and high-school teachers interested in digital manufacturing instruction using virtual reality tools and techniques. A stipend of $600 and a high-tech VR headset will be provided.

Please apply for the workshop only if you can commit to attend the entire workshop and complete the workshop requirements. Application deadline is December 10, 2021. Applicants can apply via the 2022 Digital Manufacturing online application here, including the full expectations and requirements. The number of participants is limited to 30 and successful applicants will be announced by mid-December. Contact information for the outreach coordinator, Michelle Davis, at the Center for Manufacturing Research, Tennessee Tech University, is also at the main application link above.

Learn more about how Project MANEUVER (Manufacturing Education Using Virtual Environment Resources; NSF Award # 1700674) is developing an affordable VR framework.

MatEdU Welcomes InnovATEBIO As New Partner And Ally

In a National Science Foundation (NSF) article in late 2020, The future of how things are made, the NSF began asking researchers to “reimagine the future of how things are made, laying the groundwork for manufacturing that is sustainable; takes full advantage of artificial intelligence;  incorporates advancements in fields such as bioengineering and materials science…” 

NSF is already helping those imaginations to move fast, by investing approximately $250 million per year in advanced manufacturing research. The article states that “advances in computer-aided design to drive development of 3D printing and sustained advanced nanomaterials, NSF’s decades-long investment in fundamental research has transformed manufacturing, resulting in products modern society has come to depend on.” 

Advanced manufacturing, for many people, brings to mind large machinery that melts, cuts, and bends metal, among other things, but a fundamental part of innovation in manufacturing and many other industries, is the field of materials science. 

Materials science is increasingly joining together with other specialties, in this post we’re highlighting how biology, or more specifically, Biotechnology experts are teaming up with Materials Science experts. MatEdU and InnovATEBIO, led by NSF Principal Investigator, Dr. Linnea Fletcher, and based at Austin Community College, are teaming up to create and increase technician-level skill to serve the companies, new and old, at the intersection of these two fields. 

The InnovATEBIO website states: “Advancing the U.S. bioeconomy will require a growing biotechnology workforce that is well educated and diverse. Located at Austin Community College in Texas and partnering with institutions of higher education, high schools, industry, and non-profits throughout the country, the InnovATEBIO National Biotechnology Education Center, an NSF-funded Advanced Technological Education Center, works with the biotech community to scope out workforce needs and address them by educating highly skilled technicians. InnovATEBIO supports a cadre of well-trained instructors and is helping to increase the number and quality of biotechnology education programs, as well as introducing a wide range of underrepresented students to biotechnology.”

For example, in her detailed InnovATEBIO presentation, Bio-inspired and Sustainable Design: Towards Functional Materials (YouTube video link), Dr. LaShanda Korley, at the University of Delaware, highlighted how her Center (funded under the NSF PIRE program) takes inspiration from “nature to design new materials that can change toughness in response to their environment, are safer and more effective biological implants, will transmit nerve-like electrical signals, and can respond to the environment to initiate biological processes with an eye toward soft robotic applications.” 

Like MatEdU with its National Online Resource Center and course modules, InnovATEBIO offers “Courses in a box” with materials to help instructors get a new course off the ground quickly. 

These resources may include:

  • course description
  • student outcomes
  • reading assignments or references to a textbook or articles
  • laboratory exercises
  • lecture materials
  • classroom activities
  • homework assignments
  • exams and quizzes
  • videos

Here are a few of the InnovATEBIO courses: 

Bioinformatics for Biology and Biotech

Contributed By: Sandra Porter

This bioinformatics course was developed by Dr. Sandra Porter over a ten year period as a semester-long course in the biotechnology program at Austin Community College with a …

Chromatography Techniques

Contributed By: Oana Martin

This course introduces the basic concepts involved in the separation of molecules. The purpose of this course is to give students a basic understanding of the basic underlying …

Hazardous Materials

Contributed By: Mary Ellen Kraus

Welcome to the Hazardous Materials course-in-a-box. This course is not designed as a safety training course. The educational philosophy of this course, like that of most of the … 

Laboratory Math for Biotechnology

Contributed By: Mary Ellen Kraus

Bench work in the biotechnology laboratory requires that technicians possess certain fundamental math skills and the ability to apply these skills. 

If you are interested in Biotechnology jobs, including biomaterials jobs, you will want to visit the BioTech Careers page on LinkedIn (via InnovATEBIO) as well as the main Biotech-Careers.org site that is run by the Digital World Biology team (again funded via InnovATEBIO). The site receives 500,000-plus visitors each year and helps students find biotech careers. 

Finally, our recent MatEdU post: HI-TEC Event Supports Materials Science Workforce Of The Future, reports on related biotech presentations and materials science resources.