Addmio, an online platform to learn 3D printing
While 3D printing is gradually taking hold in our businesses and industries, it is still a technology that is difficult to grasp. Specific skills are required to enter this market, whether in terms of materials, equipment or design. A number of universities and companies have now launched their 3D printing training offer, helping professionals to develop their knowledge. This knowledge is more or less accessible and concrete, which is why Addmio was created: the young startup has set itself the goal of making additive manufacturing accessible to all through an intuitive online platform. This platform allows people to follow various practical courses to acquire the necessary skills to get started in 3D printing. We met with its founder, Robin Huizing, to learn more about how this solution works.
3DN: Could you present yourself and your link with 3D printing?
My name is Robin Huizing, I’m living and working in the 3D printing industry in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, for the past 5 years. During my Industrial design study, I did an internship at a design studio in Amsterdam. One of the first assignments I did there was to redesign a lighting fixture, specifically for 3D printing. It took me some time to redesign it without constantly checking all the limitations that are part of designing for processes like injection molding. Once the design was finished I ordered it at Shapeways, a large 3D Printing marketplace. They delivered it within a week, for around twenty euros. I was blown away.
The part I designed was a technical part, with integrated snap fits and screw threads. All produced in one go, in strong and flexible sintered nylon powder. This was a single, end-use part. The best thing was that this part could be immediately sold in their online market place, with a markup. I was so impressed by this technology and the way it completely disrupted the design
process and the supply chain, that I visited Shapeways and applied for a job. They hired me as a 3D printing engineer after my graduation and I really made my hands dirty. I’ve worked in every production team in the facility and prepared, 3D printed and cleaned more than 10,000 models.
After a few years, I was ready to take on a new challenge and I noticed that metal 3D printing, or metal AM, was growing and developing more towards end-use applications instead of only prototypes. I had my sights set on one of the youngest and most visionary metal 3D printing companies, Additive Industries. This company was in many ways the exact opposite of Shapeways, which had a real creative tech startup vibe. At Additive Industries, I worked with high-end customers, a very complex technology and system, in a fast-paced environment.
3DN: Can you tell us a bit more about Addmio? How did it come about?
I trained a lot of big companies and one thing that kept surprising me was that there still were a lot of people that didn’t fully understand this technology, or exploit all its advantages. I saw a huge gap between the 3D printing technologies that became faster, and more accessible rapidly and the lack of knowledge and good and affordable educational resources. I saw the impact I could make if I would solely focus on education. I started working on a platform that is completely digital and scalable. I started Addmio, to make 3D printing accessible for everyone.
3DN: What type of courses can we follow on Addmio?
At the moment we’re working on the development of our first course, 3D Printing for Entrepreneurs. One thing that is very important for me is a clear audience. I followed quite a few 3D Printing courses myself and I noticed that most of them are very general. It sounds a bit cheesy but if you develop a course (or any product) for everyone, you actually develop it for no one at all.
We’re developing our first course for entrepreneurs. I am an entrepreneur so at least I know how I would like the course to be structured. We’re not going to spend endless hours on technical details. That’s not relevant. As a business owner, time is one of your most valuable assets. Every minute of this course should add value and we’re focusing on subjects that are hard to find online but are extremely important to successfully apply 3D printing in your business model.
The first main topic is applications. In a business, the application should justify the purchase and use of the printer. The second subject is design. Well executed design for 3D printing, or design for AM, often makes a business case successful. On the other hand, standard parts that are not redesigned often result in bad business cases. When designed specifically for 3D printing, objects are often lighter, made of fewer components, and exhibit some form of increased performance. In many cases, lead times are lower and overall costs too. The third one is monetization. It is crucial to find a business model that will generate revenue, in the short or long term. The business model you choose should match your ambitions but more importantly, it should match your skills and passions. There will follow more courses, of course, but we haven’t defined the order yet completely. The plan is to develop three to four courses per year.
3DN: What are the requirements to follow these courses?
Good question, almost no requirements at all. It is helpful if you’re interested in 3D printing and technology in general but it is not necessary. A 3D printing crash course for beginners will be part of every course we develop. The biggest part of the course will teach you the things that are hard to find online, things you learn in the field. This means the courses are also very valuable to people that do have experience with 3D printing. If we look at the technical requirements, the only thing you need to follow the course is a device, and an internet connection. The course is browser-based and combines short videos with small assessments. It is designed with busy people in mind so you can do the course anywhere, anytime. All at your own pace.
3DN: What are the challenges the AM market is facing regarding education?
I did quite a bit of research and the majority of the educational content that is available today is offered by two different groups. The first group exists out of educational institutions. I am a very big fan of the MOOCs and I see a positive trend where education is shared openly and freely, and I see how this is hugely improving education in underserved communities.
On the other hand, large research institutions and universities traditionally create educational content that is very theoretic and takes multiple months or weeks to consume. 3D printing to start with is a broad collection of technologies, each with its own process parameters and design requirements. It is very easy to create a very extensive course that covers many topics that you might never use in real life. It is also quite common to charge students thousands of euros for one course or program.
The second group is the industry itself. Machine manufacturers, material suppliers, and service bureaus. Those companies create educational content to educate their customers, and potential customers. This makes perfect sense but in practice, this often means that this content is purely focused on one technology and one system. These courses are designed to highlight the benefits of a specific 3D printer, technology or material. They will offer you very valuable information if you’re a customer but rarely teach you to look at the bigger picture. Apart from that, machine manufacturers, material suppliers and service bureaus all have businesses to run. Resources are limited and education, in most cases, doesn’t have the highest priority.
3DN: Any last words for our readers?
I started Addmio with one simple goal. To educate as many people as possible about 3D printing. This way we can help creators all around the world to create better, smarter, and more sustainable products and services. We have our campaign live on Kickstarter now for our first course, 3D Printing for Entrepreneurs. We’re very happy to announce that we’re funded in the first couple of hours but you still have the chance to support our development and to pre-order the course with a large discount.