Manufacturing News

New skills for the 3D world at TAFE Queensland

Manufacturing News

By Paul Gover

A new world of 3D printing is being shaped by TAFE educators across Queensland.

The trainers are working to future-proof the next generation of engineers and workshop technicians in Australia while introducing them to some of the world’s newest manufacturing machines.

To do the job, they are building a battery of 3D printers to service campuses across the state with help from the Markforged company in the USA.

Their newest unit is a Metal X printer, which joins their existing line-up of industrial composite printers.

“You’re going to see 3D printers on every factory floor,” said Brent Kinnane, the acting CEO of TAFE Queensland.

“We’re skilling Queensland. Ramping up the manufacturing capability.

“What makes this so important is that it’s showing people there is still a career path in manufacturing.”

Kinnane was speaking at the Brisbane campus of TAFE, which is already equipped with Markforged equipment and pushing ahead with its new training programs including the Metal X printer.

“It’s a statewide strategy. We have four printers in the regions and seven in total,” he said.

The plan is to provide training and credentials for engineering apprentices and extra education for workers who are keen to boost their knowledge.

“It’s skills for the future. They are going to be the future of manufacturing,” he said.

“They will be going out to their workplace with new information.”

According to Kinnane, the shape of engineering businesses is fundamentally changing with the arrival of new technology.

Already, he says, TAFE Queensland is the only major educational facility to still have a foundry to teach casting skills.

In future, he predicts a far greater reliance on 3D printing of metal components to save time and costs on expensive machining procedures.

“It’s a bit like a mini-factory. And you can mobilise it, take it on the road,” he said.

“You’re going to see these eventually on every factory flood. Instead of taking metal away you can create the product completely by printing.”

Markforged is committed to the changes at TAFE and its global CEO, Shai Terem, recently led a high-level visit to the Brisbane campus to discuss the educational program and the printers used in the programs.

There are around 6000 apprentices in the engineering and manufacturing programs, from a total of 140,000 people in training across Queensland.

“We can operate across the state. From Coolangatta to Thursday Island and across to Mount Isa,” he said.

“It’s supporting the supply chains. There are emerging industries that need future skilling. It’s buses and trains and aerospace.”

According to Kinnane, there is one very major difference in the new age of engineering.

“Manufacturing is clean these days. We don’t have a dirty factory floor.”

Picture: Brent Kinnane, Acting CEO TAFE Queensland; Kaz Harris-Brown, Director of People, Culture, and Operations TAFE Queensland – SkillsTech; Stephen Gates, General Manager TAFE Queensland – SkillsTech; Suraj Sethi, country manager for Markforged.

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