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Digital Manufacturing Challenge

Digital Manufacturing for Sustainable Communities

There is a pressing need to deploy engineering solutions for increasing global resilience against natural disasters and climate change. The 2020 Digital Manufacturing Challenge is a call for action to inspire the next generation of engineers to think about ways to deploy engineering design and manufacturing solutions to strengthen the response, mitigation and/or prevention of such disruptive events and envision an optimistic view of robust, sustainable, smart – even agile communities.

The tools of digital manufacturing are many, varied and powerful. They span the nano to the giga scales, transforming our world with data and engineering solutions to meet the needs of both the few and the many – often on demand.

Increasing interoperability, shorter product lifecycles, the ability to simplify or integrate features and functions, while simultaneously reducing size, weight, part count, and the need for rapid deployment are all providing opportunities to demonstrate both the capabilities and possibilities of digital manufacturing.

Students are asked to consider the many aspects of digital manufacturing and how they can enhance sustainability, health, security, and the joy of living through applications combining additive and subtractive manufacturing.

Cross-functional student teams are challenged to go beyond “additive only” to leverage the full power of digital manufacturing through design, analysis and optimization for a higher purpose.

Possible solutions may include infrastructure-level systems or elements but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Sustainable housing
  • Applications for abundant clean water and power
  • Rapid and remote or on-site disaster prevention, mitigation or response

They may be fixed and centralized or distributed solutions – delivered on time and at scale.

View Past WinnersSubmit Here



Digital manufacturing includes additive and subtractive processes embracing a considerable variety of materials and processes suitable for creating a wide range of 3D models, prototypes, mock-ups, tooling, end-use parts, assemblies and systems/subsystems. Leveraging digital manufacturing tools while employing Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) enable the optimization of form, fit, and feature/function integration like never before. 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 digital manufacturing can add value.



Entry Submission: Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Judging Complete: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
RAPID + TCT: April 20-23, 2020


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 additive manufacturing


Utilization of DDM material(s)

Justify the material(s) selected


Utilization of DDM process(es)

Justify the additive manufacturing 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:

  • STL files of your design
  • 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
  • The student team lead must create a profile within the RAPID + TCT 2020 Event Submission Site prior to submitting your project. If you are a new user, please click the Join Now button under New Users on the submission page. 

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

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

Furthermore, graduate-level students will be expected to explain where and how Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) principles were applied.

Submit your questions regarding the final submission or any other competition-related questions to

Submit Here

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
  • 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

The university-level winner (undergraduate or graduate):

  • Is expected to attend the RAPID + TCT award ceremony
  • Will have the opportunity to publish their work in a feature article of Manufacturing Engineering
  • Will have the opportunity to present their work to industry via an SME-organized webinar