Networking on employment in the 3D printing industry

Felip Fenollosa and Roger Uceda participate in a session organized by Barcelona Activa and the BCN Vocational Training Foundation where present and future job opportunities in the 3D printing sector and related companies are presented in a combination of lectures, round table and, above all, networking.

At the end of October, Felip Fenollosa, R&D director at CIM UPC, and Roger Uceda participated in a conference organized by Barcelona Activa and the BCN Vocational Training Foundation. The aim of the session was to share knowledge about 3D printing and the companies orbiting around it, in order to exemplify the present applications and future prospects of this technology, as well as the options it offers in relation to the world of work due to its rapid development.

The conference took place on the afternoon of October 27th in an online format. Barcelona Activa, the local development agency focused on promoting the economic competitiveness of the city, and the BCN Vocational Training Foundation launched a session with the participation of several agents related to the 3D printing sector and the city’s commerce and industry. The day began with an initial presentation by Felip Fenollosa and the presentation of the study ‘Training needs and trends in 3D Printing‘ by Pau Alarcón, technician of the Observatory of the BCN Vocational Training Foundation.

Felip Fenollosa presented in his presentation the state of the art in the 3D printing sector. He began with a portrait of the wide range of technologies that are part of this industry (photopolymerization in tank, extrusion of material, conglomerate projection, layer lamination…) and the products they produce (visualization and test prototypes, final parts…). He then pointed out how 3D printing can and does have a place in a wide variety of industrial sectors, as it makes it possible to manufacture any geometry and customize a product in an immediate execution time, which speeds up, makes more flexible and more competitive the development and manufacturing process. In addition, Fenollosa also argued that 3D printing has great potential to have an impact on many other sectors apart from the purely industrial, and, in fact, it already does, which opens up even wider employment possibilities.

This is a rapidly and constantly evolving ecosystem in Catalonia, which explains why more than 35% of the companies involved are less than 10 years old. Likewise, the sector already involves 1,321 workers and has a turnover of 325 million euros. The speaker presented as examples of spaces that create employability the Spin-Off of the CIM UPC, BCN3D, the company HP and the Ateneus de Fabricació and FabLabs such as those that the CIM center has spread around Barcelona, but also pointed out that these are just a few examples of the many companies that are increasingly incorporating 3D printing in a more or less profound way in their production processes. For all this Fenollosa argues the need to take advantage of the great competitiveness of the Catalan ecosystem to match the companies around the world that have already applied 3D printing comprehensively, and make the sector starring an industrial relocation in our region. In fact, there is already a very strong research system in Catalonia, but it is necessary to translate this into industrial results to bring to the market, taking advantage of the momentum already taken by many SMEs that already use 3D printing intensively.

Felip Fenollosa concluded the presentation by insisting on the great future possibilities of the sector, especially as a tool to face many of the current challenges, most of them rooted in the need to achieve sustainable development. These possibilities were later materialized in Pau Alarcón’s presentation of the study ‘Training needs and trends in 3D Printing’, all of which rounded off a conference opening focused on the immediate future of the sector’s employability and potential.

The session continued with a round table where representatives of different companies belonging to the 3D Printing sector or related to it discussed about the industry. Participants included Israel Arias, co-founder and CEO of Drukatt, a company focused on additive manufacturing; Roger Uceda, co-founder and CEO of BCN3D, the CIM UPC spin-off; Francesc Adell, 3D technology advisor at SICNOVA, a distributor of professional 3D printers; and Slivia Nualart, director of retail services at Horizons Optical, which produces custom glasses through 3D printing.

In this part of the day, the aforementioned participants discussed different issues related to the labor market in the 3D printing sector. The diversity of profiles in the speakers, complemented with the study of the BCN Vocational Training Foundation that had been previously presented, allowed to observe common trends in the different areas involved in this industry. For example, in relation to the professional profiles most in demand by companies, the designer is the most frequently hired role, followed by sales. These profiles are also difficult to find, especially due to the low level of specialization of the training offer, which does not respond to the needs of the market. It is for this reason that one of the challenges of the sector in the future is an adaptation of training in the industry, diversifying and specializing the former to adapt to the constant changes of the latter. Some examples of this specialization could be profiles dedicated exclusively to post-production or quality control. These are challenges whose victory would result in significant advantages. Incorporating a new training offer would mean a high insertion in the labor market and good conditions for the resulting profiles, according to the growth forecasts of the sector which, obviously, would also benefit from the incorporation of these new professionals.

And precisely in response to these growth trends, the entities participating in the conference described here established interconnections in the last part of the day. A Networking space was held, during which all participants established dialogues with the aim of generating new contacts in the market and opening new professional opportunities. The dynamization was in charge of Rosaura Alastruey, expert in professional networking and pioneer in the introduction of this practice in the country.

This session is an example of a type of action that is much needed today. Exposing the ecosystem of new industry that is emerging in the city allows discovering new options for a timid but constantly growing post-pandemic world of work. Dialogue exchange experiences such as this one are what lead to an interdisciplinary and comprehensive development that boosts innovation in the locality.

Images: Barcelona Activa and Fundación BCN Formación Profesional