How can we get around better? SME’s 2017 Digital Manufacturing Challenge invites college and high school students around the world who are in STEM fields to answer the question—by creating forward-thinking, mobility innovation solutions.
Contestants are asked to consider how our inherent human physical mobility and/or performance may be restored, enhanced or given new capabilities.
The challenge seeks entries meant to enhance physical mobility in one or more of the following areas:
- Personal transportation.
- Existing sporting goods.
- Medical appliance/physical therapy devices.
- A new and/or unique product addressing two or more of the above categories.
While the design challenge emphasizes the unique capabilities offered by additive manufacturing, the overarching enabling technology is digital manufacturing allowing the integration and optimization of both additive and traditional manufacturing.
The Design for Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) Technical Working Group developed the first SME Digital Manufacturing Challenge in 2008. It was one of the first competitions to go beyond rapid prototyping and feature additive manufacturing.
One important tactical goal of the competition is to acquaint, engage, and inspire students to develop and demonstrate their technical and creative “maker” skills.
Students over the years submitted many forward-thinking projects that showcased student design and creativity and demonstrated new and creative ways of using additive manufacturing technology.
In 2009, Marc Hanratty, of Loughborough University in England was a finalist in the Manufacturing Design Challenge for submitting an entry titled “Rapid manufacturing attributes of speaker cluster and controller.” The end product allowed for reducing the number of parts in a speaker and controller in a seamless unitary construction. In this case, the number of parts was reduced to 8 from 79 by consolidating housing components and using snap fittings.
In 2011, the winning UMass Lowell team designed a custom forearm crutch handgrip with an integrated iPod controller and flashlight.
In 2014, students from Western Illinois University designed a truck that featured nine pieces to collect and assemble from conference exhibitors American Precision Prototyping, Cideas, EnvisionTEC, Harvest Technologies, Materialise, Met-L-Flo, rapid prototype + manufacturing, Stratasys, and Roush Manufacturing.
In the 2016 competition, the UMass Lowell team won with an “inspector drone” submission.
The team designed it to help engineers remotely inspect bridges.
Bridges are currently inspected by positioning a large crane on top of the bridge deck. A team of engineers then use the crane’s cherry picker to drop over the side to visually assess the condition of the bridge.
Individuals may enter the competition. But teams of as many as four students representing a diversity of skills are encouraged to enter—to foster collaboration and leadership.
One strategic goal of the competition is to encourage high school and university educators to integrate such team-based learning activities into their curricula as a complementary means of developing the next generation of designers, manufacturing engineers and technologists.
Contest submissions are due before March 13.
Winners will be recognized at SME’s annual RAPID + TCT event, held May 8–11 in Pittsburgh.
New this year, each finalist will give a live, 15-minute presentation at RAPID + TCT and take questions afterward.
Also new this year at SME’s RAPID + TCT event, is an R&D track for students and faculty, student poster sessions, and expanded hands-on learning activities for high school students.
Join us. Together, we can design (and build) a future better than any of us may have imagined before.