Innovation comes from companies and well funded organizations, sure. But it also comes from individuals. Individuals who have ideas and who have the space to grow those ideas. This is the driving concept behind many design and manufacturing challenges, including the recently launched Manufacturing Innovator Challenge orchestrated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Freelancer.com.
The competition is inviting participants from across the United States to submit ideas and proposals for 3D printing solutions in two categories: Disaster Response and Solid State Lighting Manufacturing. Each category will award prizes to the best three submissions.
As part of the first category—Disaster Response—the DOE is calling for design concepts that focus on and introduce new large scale AM applications for disaster response, including solutions for 3D printing infrastructure components—such as power lines, communication towers, etc—on the spot rather than having to ship them in to accelerate aid and disaster recovery times. The three top entrants for this category will win prizes of $2,500 each.
The second category—Solid State Lighting Manufacturing—invites people to submit a design concept focused on Solid State Lighting (SSL) manufacturing to advance 3D printing for luminaire applications and for optical materials for SSL. Three prizes of $3,000 will be given for each of the three winners of this category. Both categories have a submission deadline of December 7, 2018.
Evidently, the Manufacturing Innovator Challenge is not quite suitable for amateurs, as both categories require some degree of knowledge and expertise in the field they deal with. Freelancer.com, which is recognized as the biggest freelancing and crowdsourcing platform, will market the challenge to its U.S.-based users.
As stated on Freelancer.com’s website: “Through this contest, DOE is seeking to bring attention to these new technical possibilities while harnessing the creative power of the crowd to identify spaces where 3D printing can play a breakthrough role, which have not yet been identified. By sharing innovative new concepts, the manufacturing community writ large may then develop potential game-changing technologies.”
The additive manufacturing challenge itself is part of the DOE’s larger effort to “foster innovation and attract broad industry participation to help solve today’s manufacturing challenges.” The two AM-related design concept challenges will be followed up with other subsequent challenges and prize opportunities in different sectors, including bioenergy, buildings and vehicle technologies.
As with most AM-related design challenges, we are eager to see what types of 3D printing solutions are proposed and which are ultimately deemed the best. You can find details about concept submissions here.