How Joep Winkels Re-Thought Additive Manufacturing
Joep Winkels had amassed years of experience in the IT world and a deep understanding of systems design and infrastructure. These years of experience went out the window, however, when he got the chance to join the Sales and Business Development arm of 3DVerkstan, one of the largest 3D printing resellers in the Nordic region. Joep knew nothing of 3D printing and very little about manufacturing. He needed to learn the fundamentals, applications, and business implications of Additive Manufacturing (AM) to successfully adapt to his new role.
Joep had decided to join the 3D printing market at a point where for many companies, 3D printing had gone from a shiny new toy in the corner of the lab to a potential manufacturing technology.
His organization, 3DVerkstan offers Ultimaker, Markforged, Craftbot and Formlabs equipment to the Nordic region. With these vendors all moving upmarket and into more manufacturing-oriented environments, the technical challenge was going to become harder for Joep in his new Sales and Business Development role.
With the complexity of the technologies increasing, Joep found himself facing an expectation of expertise from clients. Since Joep was to head up Sales as well as Business Development for 3DVerkstan, the management team knew he had to develop a thorough understanding of 3D printing as was possible in a short amount of time.
3DVerkstan opted to send Joep to the MIT xPRO’s course Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production. This online additive manufacturing course gives participants an in-depth understanding of 3D printing and how it can be applied in relevant industries, as well as when to avoid using AM.
Online participants also explore end to end workflows of AM technologies in polymers and metals, as well as the driving principles and limitations of each of these technologies. Designing for AM, making a business case for it, and evaluating the success of an AM implementation are also key elements of the course.
For 3DVerkstan, the immediate benefit for Joep was learning how to engage and work with his 3D printing colleagues and customers. Joep was mindful that he “had to start from the very beginning” and obtain “an understanding of Additive Manufacturing.” He needed a crash course AM to catch up with his colleagues, customers, and partners.
The first noticeable benefit Joep saw was that he quickly acquired the terminology and understanding to converse with his fellow learners about 3D printing core principles. He generally spent between 10 to 15 hours a week and found it to be tough going at times. “Now you are not just doing a course to get a piece of paper, but you really want to understand and learn, so it takes more time and effort,” said Joep.
Joep envisioned his participation in the course to be a lonely affair of him sitting in a room in front of the computer. He was rather surprised at all of the interactivity and online communication not only between himself and faculty but with other learners as well. With the forums as well as the knowledge base, webinars and online feedback he felt he was a part of a team of people learning the same concepts.
At the end of Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production, Joep could look back on the successful completion of the course and deem his participation to be useful. Indeed, he is thinking of getting two to three of his salespeople to attend the course, as well. After the course, he was quickly able to understand the needs of Additive Manufacturing teams at large corporate clients.
“I would recommend the MIT course to people who want to get started using Additive Manufacturing for business quickly. The course delivers comprehensive, in-depth knowledge to support meeting the challenge of reaching AMs full potential.”
At 3DVerkstan as a whole, Joep’s participation has made a business impact. Previously, 3DVerkstan focused more on 3D printing in and of itself. After applying what he had learned through his MIT course, however, Joep’s insights made the company see 3D printing as an integrated part of many manufacturing processes.
Whether by using CNC machines for post-processing or with 3D printing providing a subassembly or in injecting 3D printing into an existing manufacturing process, 3DVerkstan learned to adopt a more holistic approach to the technology. According to Joep, “The team is now more focused on understanding other manufacturing technologies and the role Additive Manufacturing plays when used in concert with them.”
Now, 3DVerkstan can cater better to more sophisticated AM applications, players and manufacturing opportunities. Joep says that “every single day I use the knowledge I gained in verifying plans, discussing opportunities and actually doing business.”
Ready to leverage 3D printing to drive innovation at your organization? Learn 3D printing online with MIT xPRO.
Note: this piece is adapted from "How an Online Course Helped 3DVerkstan’s Joep Winkels Re-Think Additive Manufacturing," written by Joris Peels for 3DPrint.com.