Queen's University

Sustainability group launches 3-D printing design contest

Joshua Pearce, a mechanical engineering assistant professor, displays a component created on the rapid prototyping machine known as a RepRap. The Queen's Applied Sustainability Group has launched a contest that requires participants to come up with open source 3-D designs that help solve a development goal.

With the rapid growth and evolution of three-dimensional (3-D) printing over the last decade, impressive designs have been created all over the world, but they have little functional value after they’re produced.

The Queen’s Applied Sustainability Group (QASG) believes the technology has the potential to solve real world problems.

“We have created a contest to facilitate an open exchange of 3-D designs that can be printed on our rapid prototyping machine (RepRap) and meet human development needs,” says assistant professor Joshua Pearce. “As one of the few universities with a RepRap machine, we also want to introduce the Queen’s community to this exciting new field.”

3-D printing is often used by companies to quickly produce a prototype to test before it goes into production. More affordable 3-D printers and inexpensive computing have encouraged designers to share their work on the Internet.

“At this point, 3-D printing is like the beginning of the computer revolution in terms of possibilities. You can design and print anything you dream up,” says Dr. Pearce.

Queen’s students, as a part of an earlier assignment, designed a solar charger station for the One Laptop Per Child Initiative. Dr. Pearce hopes the contest encourages more designs in that vein.

“The designs don’t necessarily have to be complicated or complex, but they need to help solve a development goal, whether that’s clean water, access to energy or education,” he says.

The contest is open to Queen’s faculty, staff and students. The submission deadline is April 3. Participants must set-up a contest page on Appropedia, the largest appropriate technology wiki, where they describe their projects and the developmental need it addresses. The final design must be uploaded to Thingiverse, a digital design sharing website.

The contest is sponsored by QASG and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through the Chair in Design Engineering, Queen’s professor David Strong. The first, second and third place contestants will receive $500, $300 and $100, respectively, and a copy of Makers by Cory Doctorow. The top designs will be printed by the Queen’s RepRap machine.

3-D Printable Open Source Appropriate Technology Design Competition.

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Last updated at 4:16 pm EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
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