Should you take a course in additive manufacturing?

What is the best way to boost 3D printing knowledge and skills? Here is your guide.

Many talented additive manufacturing (AM) enthusiasts ask themselves: ‘Should I do a course in AM or get hands-on experience?’. The answer might be different for everyone. Let’s explore this question and see if a deep-dive course in AM is something you should consider.

Is hands-on experience enough?

Gaining hands-on experience is a very valuable way to boost your skills and learn new knowledge. You can gain this experience by learning on-the-job (full-time work, freelance projects or internships) or self-teaching. But is hands-on experience sufficient? What can you gain from doing a course?

Your main reason for considering formal learning should be that there are skills you want to develop or because you want to acquire new knowledge. Passion for the subject-matter and a love of learning is also important. However, there are other ways to develop skills and acquire new knowledge other than by taking a course. So, you need to think about whether a course suits your needs. This means asking yourself:

  • What is my budget?
  • Am I in a rush?
  • Do I want to ‘dive deep’?
  • What are my aspirations?

What is my budget?

Clearly it is cheaper to not take a course in AM — in the short term. However, in the long term, consider the potential return on investment from gaining a qualification.

Formal education can give you a deeper and wider understanding of a topic.

Precisely calculating return on investment for a course is difficult but you can get a rough idea by considering:

  • How well-respected are the course providers? Will their name on my CV catch the attention of employers and recruiters, increasing my future salary?
  • Will I have access to learning tools and resources I couldn’t access otherwise? Consider: access to academic papers, facilities, the background of your teacher(s), partnerships between course providers and companies.

There are ways to keep things cheap whist doing a course, too. For example, online courses are generally cheaper than offline/face-to-face courses. Also, keep your eye out for discounts and offers. It might save you some money.

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