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Direct Digital Manufacturing Tech Group

2016 Design for DDM Competition Challenge, Overview and Judging Criteria
Sponsored by the Direct Digital Manufacturing Tech Group, which is part of SME's Additive Manufacturing Community

Welcome to the 2016 Direct Digital Manufacturing Design Competition! This Year’s Theme: Not your average drone!

Design Challenge

This year, designers and engineers are challenged to take a base unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) design, and by applying additive manufacturing, improve on it. Contestants may choose from two different “stock” designs available in the public domain.

Improvements in performance are to be quantified at both the part and system levels. Performance enhancements may include, but are not limited to, aerodynamic and aesthetic characteristics; capability (integrated/adaptive feature/function flexibility such as payload type, size and weight); durability or repairability; safety; fly time, etc.

  • Contestants are encouraged to employ more than one additive process and material.
  • Contestants need not build the item(s), but must analyze and justify the processes and materials selected by providing supporting data and/or evidence.  


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

Optional: Consider the Federal Aviation Administration, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association or other UAV-related sites as resources to monitor some of the latest developments in this rapidly emerging field. 

Entries submitted by 12 a.m. ET, March 21, 2016, will be considered. The top designs in each academic level and category will be recognized during SME's RAPID event, May 16-19, 2016, Orlando, Florida.

View the winning entries from past competitions here. 

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:






Functionality and durability   Provide a description and analysis of features and functions        


Cost-benefit/value analysis*   

Justify reason(s) for using AM



Utilization of DDM material(s)  

Justify the material(s) selected



Utilization of DDM process(es)  

Justify the AM process(es) used



Design integration and innovation  

Showcase AM capabilities / compare with traditional methods




Justify market appeal and market share forecast



Social and environmental impact  

Forecast, explain, and justify the affects anticipated 



Judges' discretion  







How to Enter

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

  1. A completed 2016 waiver/entry form .
  2. An STL file(s) of your design.
  3. A one-page summary stating why your design is suited for 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 three-page report 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 3D system that can provide an STL format file, as well as a STEP file.
    2. Complete the 2016 waiver/entry form .
    3. Complete a one-page summary stating why your design is suited for DDM.
    4. Include a rendering or JPEG photo 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  
    8. In the "Comments" section, enter "2016 DDM Competition."
    9. Wait for the upload confirmation.
    10. Submit all forms and files prior to the Monday, March 21, 2016, deadline. Entries will be judged by Monday, March 28, 2016, and winners will be notified shortly thereafter. An announcement of the winners and runners-up will be made at SME's annual RAPID event, May 16-19, 2016, in Orlando, Florida.

Questions regarding the final submission or any other aspect of the competition and can be sent to:

Peter Ried Jr.
DDM Tech Group

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 fully exploited will receive:

  • A complimentary conference pass to RAPID 2016.
  • A stipend of $300 to use for travel and lodging to the conference.
  • A personalized recognition award.
  • A certificate of achievement.
  • A complimentary, one-year SME student membership.
  • An SME logo gift item.
  • 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.

*Only one (1) individual in each category will be awarded first prize. If the design is submitted by more than one individual, the designated leader will receive the total prize and any co-designer(s) will receive a certificate of achievement only.