Over the last few years, Stratasys has worked tirelessly to make sure that our nation’s veterans have access to quality 3D printed prosthetics and orthotics. In 2016, the company helped form the CYBER team with the purpose of making better Ankle Foot Orthotics for veterans, and earlier this year the 3D printing solutions company partnered with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to launch one of the first collaborative 3D printing hospital networks in the US. Now, Stratasys is banding together with nationally-accredited, 501(c)3 non-profit school Workshops for Warriors to boost its additive manufacturing curriculum. The company is introducing AM job training and certification initiatives for the military veterans that the San Diego-based WFW works with.
“Today’s manufacturing demands companies move faster and more efficiently than ever before,” said Rich Garrity, President of Americas, Stsratasys. “Lean processes mandate reduction of both tooling costs and risks, as well as removal of design constraints typically hindering productivity. Additive technology is the engine that makes this all possible. We’re honored to partner with Workshops for Warriors, empowering the skilled men and women of the military with the tools necessary to succeed in the thriving manufacturing sector.”
The WFW AM program is backed by 3D printing technology and service donations, and veterans who attend the training center can enroll in either a 16-week machining or welding course, both of which lead to nationally recognized credentials accredited by leading organizations like the American Welding Society and SOLIDWORKS; the school also trains veterans to use the 3D design SOLIDWORKS suite. The new AM STEM-accreditation program and training is centered around Stratasys and its FDM Fortus 450mc, which is perfect for high-requirement production.
Stratasys technology is a centerpiece of new additive manufacturing STEM accreditation at San Diego-based non-profit Workshops for Warriors [Image: Workshops for Warriors]
WFW is state-licensed, and all of its workshops are accredited STEM educational programs provided at no cost to the veterans, thanks to donations from and partnerships with the likes of Stratasys, Johnston Companies, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and SolidProfessor. The competitive program, which is the only accredited school in the US that trains, certifies, and helps veterans, transitioning service members, and Wounded Warriors get into advanced manufacturing careers, has graduated nearly 500 veterans since it was first founded in 2008, taking on only a select 50 students each semester. It is committed to making sure veterans can learn the necessary skills to make it in the manufacturing workplace, through advanced STEM education opportunities.
A hands on approach to skills training is part of the innovative approach Workshops for Warriors is taking to fill current and future manufacturing roles.
However, WFW does not receive any Federal, State, or local funding, and won’t be eligible for GI Bill benefits until April of 2019. But they can’t afford to rest easy – not with what’s at stake.
“In our region alone, more than 40,000 veterans transition out of military service each and every year. Unfortunately, many face significant challenges – including access to living-wage jobs,” said former US Navy Officer Hernàn Luis y Prado, the Founder of Workshops for Warriors. “Our mission is to make significant, lasting improvements in the lives of veterans and their families – and job re-training is a key to this transformation. 3D printing is required for accelerated careers in manufacturing, and Stratasys is the ideal partner to help us create these opportunities for students.”
According to Deloitte, over the next decade, almost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled, so it’s vitally important to train the next generation of advanced manufacturing technicians. WFW’s agreement with Stratasys, which donated the Fortus 450mc to the organization, is its first AM program, which will be useful in creating a foundation for other accreditation programs in the future.
“3D printing will become an ever increasing source of manufacturing in the U.S., and I want to be able to allow veterans the mental space to innovate and integrate 3D printing into their designs and applications,” said Luis y Prado. “Stratasys has given us the best 3D printer in the world, and 3D printing fills a critical niche that we didn’t have beforehand. So when you’re partnered with world leader in 3D printing technology, that’s really going to help make our students even more sought after than they currently are.”
The Workshops for Warriors program is able to graduate roughly 150 former members of the armed forces each year, who can later go on to contribute to the ever-growing manufacturing sector, thanks to both corporate and private funding and over $6 million worth of technology that’s been given or donated by organizations like Stratasys.