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Design Challenge

Automobiles have long been one way to express individuality — particularly when customized with aftermarket or even maker-inspired components. Such components or systems often enhance the styling and/or the capability/performance of a common stock vehicle.

This sort of innovation is what the 2018 Digital Manufacturing Challenge seeks to encourage.

For this tenth anniversary installment of the challenge, we wish to revisit the 2008 theme updated to comprehend all of the latest digital tools and techniques available.

As such, student designers are invited to create innovative automotive aftermarket peripherals that integrate and exploit the best of digital design, additive and subtractive tools/technologies to create and showcase your vision of a unique automotive feature or function.

Contestant teams are asked to create virtual prototypes incorporating any mechanical, electrical and/or optical elements, and 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 styling and/or the capability/performance 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.

Entries must submitted before 12 a.m. ET Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, to be considered.

RAPID + TCTEntries must be submitted before the deadline in Spring 2018 in each academic level and category will be recognized during RAPID + TCT in 2018. 

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         20%
Utilization of DDM process(es)         Justify the additive manufacturing process(es) used         20%
Design integration and innovation         Showcase AM capabilities / compare with traditional methods         10%
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 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 entry form.
  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 "2018 Digital Manufacturing Challenge."
  9. Wait for the upload confirmation.
  10. Submit all forms and files prior to the Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, deadline.
  • Entries will be judged by Monday, March 12, 2018, and 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 April 23-26, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • The winning teams will also be expected to deliver an SME-sponsored webinar presentation of their project entry following RAPID + TCT.

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 event.
  • 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.