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Welcome to the 2017 Digital Manufacturing Challenge! This Year’s Theme: Mobility Innovation

Sponsored by the Direct Digital Manufacturing Tech Group, which is part of SME's Additive Manufacturing Community

Overview and Judging Criteria

Contestants are encouraged to create designs that 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.

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  Thank you to our 2017 Digital Manufacturing Challenge sponsor!  

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Design Challenge

Innovation and mobility take many forms, all of which have the potential to be creatively improved by additive manufacturing.

This year, student designers and engineers are invited to figure out how to help us get around better. More specifically, contestants are challenged to consider how our inherent human physical mobility and/or performance may be restored, enhanced or given new capabilities whether on land, in/on the sea, in the air or in space. Such “performance mobility” may be represented by a functional item, subsystem or system. Contestant submissions may address needs in the areas of personal transportation, sporting goods or medical appliances/physical therapy devices — or they may be something unique, entirely new and/or novel.

To optimize the subject design, contestants are encouraged to employ more than just one of the seven available additive manufacturing processes. Contestants need not build their item, but must recommend and justify through their research and cost-benefit/value analysis, their design, process and material selections to achieve the performance mobility restoration, enhancement(s) or new capabilities claimed.


Additive manufacturing embraces a considerable variety of materials and processes suitable for directly creating a wide range of 3D models, prototypes, mock-ups, tooling, end-use parts, assemblies and systems/subsystems. The design freedom enabled by additive manufacturing allows the optimization of form, fit and feature/function integration often not possible by other means. Therefore, student designers and engineers are challenged to go beyond the classroom or laboratory and showcase their technical and commercial talents by demonstrating new and creative ways additive manufacturing can add value.

RAPID + TCTEntries must be submitted on or before 12 a.m. EDT March 13, 2017, to be considered. The top designs in each academic level and category will be recognized during RAPID + TCT, May 8-11, 2017, in Pittsburgh. 

Judging Criteria

Entries are welcome from both college/university students and high school students. The two categories will be judged separately according to the following weighted criteria:

Criteria         Explanation         Weight
Functionality and durability         Provide a description and analysis of features and functions         15%
Cost-benefit/value analysis         Justify reason(s) for using additive manufacturing         15%
Utilization of DDM material(s)         Justify the material(s) selected         15%
Utilization of DDM process(es)         Justify the additive manufacturing process(es) used         15%
Design integration and innovation         Showcase AM capabilities / compare with traditional methods         20%
Marketing         Justify market appeal and market share forecast         10%
Social and environmental impact         Forecast, explain and justify the affects anticipated         5%
Judges' discretion                   5%
          Total          100%  

How to Enter

Each category submission will consist of a zipped file, which includes:

  1. A completed 2017 entry form .
  2. STL files of your design.
  3. A one-page summary stating why your design is suited for direct digital manufacturing (DDM).
  • Include the benefits your design would bring to the consumer.
  • Indicate the volume of the build.
  • Include your name(s) and contact information.
  • Include your school name along with the name of your academic advisor as well as his/her email address plus title of your entry.

In addition, college/university entrants will also need to submit a report (not to exceed three pages) containing the following additional elements:

  1. Justified choices of DDM processes and materials to be used.
  2. Social and environmental impact analysis.
  3. A cost-benefit analysis for using DDM (include an estimate of the quantity to be manufactured).
  4. Include your name(s) and contact information.
  5. Include your school name along with the name of your academic advisor, including his/her email address, with title of your entry.

Submissions must be made using the following process:

  1. Complete your design in a computer-aided design (CAD) system that can provide an STL format file as well as a STEP file.
  2. Complete the 2017 entry form (PDF).
  3. Complete a one-page summary stating why your design is suited for DDM.
  4. Include a rendering or JPEG of the completed design.
  5. College and university entrants must also include the three-page report.
  6. Save the entry form, summary page, STL file and report (if applicable) in a zipped file.
  7. Upload the zipped file containing all forms, reports and design to Met-L-Flo Inc.
  8. In the "Comments" section, enter "2017 DDM Competition."
  9. Wait for the upload confirmation.
  10. Submit all forms and files prior to the Monday, March 13, 2017, deadline.
  • Entries will be judged by Monday, March 20, 2017; winners will be notified shortly thereafter.
  • An announcement recognizing the runners-up will be made and the winning teams will be expected to give a live 15-minute summary presentation of their entry and be prepared to entertain a question-and-answer session of up to 10 minutes during SME's annual RAPID + TCT event, held May 8-11, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Click the button below to submit your questions regarding the final submission or any other aspect of the competition.

Prizes Awarded

First Prize (One university winner and one high school winner)

The designer* whose design is judged as being the best example of how DDM can be most efficiently and effectively exploited will receive:

  • A complimentary conference pass to RAPID + TCT 2017.
  • A stipend of $1,000 to use for travel and lodging to the conference.
  • A certificate of achievement.
  • A complimentary, one-year SME student membership.
  • An SME logo gift.
  • A recognition letter sent to the winner with a copy sent to the university advisor/educator.
  • A recognition letter sent to a student newspaper/technical publication designated by the winner.