If you follow the 3D printing sector, there is encouraging news on a variety of fronts. According to Freelancer.com, the fastest growing jobs online in the second quarter were in the design and 3D-printing industries, and last week 3D printing stocks gave investors a thrilling charge down their well-heeled spines.
Collectively, a group of those 3D printing stocks ran up the board by as much as 10%, and that easily outpaced the moderate gains shown by other segments of the overall market. Sure, those gains might have rolled back a little as the week progressed, but the stalwarts of the additive manufacturing game (3D Systems and Stratasys) moved up 9.7% and 6%, while industrial 3D printing pioneer ExOne showed a 5% move. Even medical and organic tissue specialists Organovo traded 10% higher.
As the third fastest-growing job was, according to Freelancer.com CEO Matt Barrie, 3D rendering, it shapes up that 2013 promises to be a watershed year.
Barrie called the move in the jobs market a result of a "tectonic shift in the design and manufacturing industries as they struggle to adapt to the unstoppable rise of crowdsourcing and 3D printing."
Barrie says the 3D printing segment is on its way to becoming a $3 billion industry by 2016 and accordingly, 3D rendering, 3D modeling and 3D animation jobs posted double-digit growth and landed in the Freelancer.com top 20 job categories for the second quarter of 2013.
And the shift wasn't confined to the job market or the trading room floor.
Old line monster manufacturer General Electric recently announced plans to use Morris Technology, a recent acquisition, as their wedge to produce all their LEAP engine fuel nozzles via additive manufacturing. And they mean business, as the plan is to have that bit of work taken care of 2016.
How, you may well ask, is that such a big deal?
Should GE hit the mark, it would be the largest ever rollout of 3D printing on a production scale.
That puts recent graduates like Lydia Bargielski of Indianapolis, IN, in the catbird's seat on the bus ride into the career of the future.
Bargielski, a recent graduate of Vincennes University, works for Faurecia Emission Control Technologies R&D Center in Columbus, Indiana. The facility there is located on a former airport and Bargielski says the runway has been "quite useful to test cars – and to exercise during lunch hours."
As an indication of her prospects, she's pressed a spare bedroom at home into service as a space to juggle a variety of freelance projects.
Bargielski, now 28, first came in contact with 3D printing at a technology show in Chicago, her hometown, and first used one to print out an object while part of the Product Design and Production Processes program at Vincennes University, but she went the long way round to get to that decision.
"I decided to pursue a career in CAD design after getting paid to draw as a cartoonist for the Daily Egyptian Newspaper while earning my Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Southern Illinois University," Bargielski says. "I found myself in administration after school, and I missed getting paid to draw. Freelance projects full time couldn't pay the bills so a friend suggested I take up design."
She said a friend of hers, Mark Edmondson, a Project Engineer at Keson Industries who has made his own 3D printers, was instrumental in her change of career direction.
"We talk about 3D printing every chance we get," Bargielski said.
Bargielski also credits Vincennes instructors Gary Shaw and Thomas Danielsen, who taught her the basics of CAD, product and industrial design. She said the program impressed her because of constant updates to the curriculum to stay abreast of trends in the manufacturing industry.
Danielsen and Shaw are, like instructors at many universities across America, investing in 3D printers as teaching tools. Danielsen said the staff of Vincennes University decided on purchasing the Mcor Matrix, a machine which uses desktop paper to produce full-color, 3D models.
"Some schools buy the most expensive 3D printer on the market, and then don't let their students get their hands on it because it costs too much to print models," Danielsen said. "We want students using the machine, learning how it works and what they can do with it."
For Lydia Bargielski, that hands-on approach provided the spur for a career choice, and it likely made her one of the pioneers of a burgeoning pack of students looking real jobs in the real world.