The EU Machine Tool Alliance for Skills (METALS) project, an effort coordinated by CECIMO, has officially come to an end. The project, which launched in November 2015 as a three-year EU-funded project, wrapped up on October 31, 2018. To mark the end of the project, METALS has released a free online course about the fundamentals of additive manufacturing.
CECIMO, the European association representing the Machine Tool and Additive Manufacturing industry, played a key role in establishing and coordinating the METALS project, which was three-country partnership (Germany, Italy and Spain) which sought to engage stakeholders in AM workforce development, including from industry and vocational institutes and research bodies and local training regulators.
The project also aimed to drive the AM industry forward with competitiveness by improving the skills of the sector and its labour force. In practice, the METALS project consisted of orchestrating surveys, workshops and interviews with a range of machine tool experts in Europe. A key finding of this research was that AM is indeed an innovative and critical technology in the machine tool sector and training for it is required to push forward industrialization.
As mentioned, the project wrapped up at the end October, an event accompanied by the launch of a freely accessible online course on additive manufacturing. The course consists of 27 learning units which fall into three main categories: knowledge on AM, work-process and entrepreneurship. Notably, the online program addresses both technical and soft skills required for working with industrial 3D printing.
“Training and education are important elements for the industrialisation of additive technologies in Europe, which is the objective of CECIMO,” commented Filip Geerts, Director General of CECIMO. “With METALS, learners will be able to access relevant online knowledge at no cost and start building their competences to interact with AM. Coupled with on-hands training, which remains essential, initiatives like METALS are useful to increase the overall awareness of what AM concretely is and entails.”
An important part of the METALS project consisted of raising awareness about the importance of AM training with EU policymakers. Notably, the project and CECIMO presented a position paper to Vocational Education and Training (VET) regulatory bodies across Europe calling for the creation of “robust training programmes” for AM workers. The paper also suggested that certain national accreditation agencies prioritize AM skills. Finally, the paper called for increase of funding to VET institutes for technical AM equipment.
CECIMO itself has been an important proponent for industrial AM in Europe, calling out EU regulations that could stifle the nascent industry as well as working with partners to establish standards for additive manufacturing.