A day in the life…

An Additive Manufacturing Apprentice

Hello, my name is Charlie and I have been working at Paragon as an AM (additive manufacturing) apprentice since the beginning of September 2021.

I am currently working in the MJF (Multi Jet Fusion) department. I am working towards a C&G Level 2 Diploma, and once I have mastered the skills over here, I will be moving into the DLS™ (Digital Light Synthesis™) department. I have worked in the DLS department before, in a part time role. It was what really got me interested in additive manufacturing in the first place.

In my daily routine in the MJF department, I usually start off with taking the build units out the machines and leaving the builds to cool down. Normally, the build units would be left in the unpacking units. If there’s no room, however, then they are fine being left out of the way somewhere at room temperature. Depending upon the size of the build, it can take up to 2 days for a full build to cool down past the maximum unpacking temperature (50 °C).

After that, it is vital that the machines are cleaned properly so that the next build will be 100% accurate. I’ll vacuum all the powder from the inside of the machines, wipe the glass clean and clear the spittoon of any detailing agent. Lastly, I’ll close the lid, switch the machine back on and do all the required checks to make sure the machine is good to go for when a new build needs to be printed.

Once a build has cooled to below 50 °C, the next job will be to unpack the build. In the unpacking station, I’ll remove all the excess powder from the build unit and make sure to clear most of the excess powder off the parts. Then I put these parts through a post-processing machine called the PowerShot C. This clears 99% of the dust off the parts. The last 1% gets blown off with a fine airline. Then the parts are ready to be painted or dyed.

Additive Manufacturing Apprenticeships

The process of dyeing the parts is really easy. I heat a 7-litre pan of water to 80-90 °Celsius and put 2 scoops of the required dye in the water. Then I wash the parts with soap, rinse the soap off and put them in the pan for the suggested time given. Stirring the part in the while it’s in the dye is very important (especially with black dye) as otherwise dark spots can be left on the parts.

After the parts are dyed, I dry them with the airline and put them back in the oven at 50 °C for 10mins – just to make sure all the excess water on the part has evaporated. We have another PowerShot machine that delivers shot peening – this gives the dyed part a smooth, satin-like finish.

I then coat those parts that need it with necessary materials such as foam or fabric. However, I haven’t quite mastered how to do that yet, so that task falls to my co-worker. Finally, I pack the parts up in boxes ready to be sent off to the customer.

In between drying and dyeing, I am learning all the administrative aspects of the role, such as scheduling production, build optimisation, and crucially for a service-led industry, understanding the customer requirements.

Are you interested in an apprenticeship? Call 01325 333 141 or email:

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