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Digital Manufacturing Challenge

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Problem Statement/Mission

Social sustainability focuses on creating and maintaining a society that enhances the well-being of its members, promotes social equity, and supports human rights and dignity over the long term. Social sustainability is one of the three pillars of sustainability, alongside environmental sustainability, and economic sustainability.

We live in a diverse and interconnected world, where innovations in design and manufacturing can address many aspects of social sustainability at the local and global level. There are innovative ways to improve quality of life, address education gaps, improve accessibility, achieve gender equality, improve health and well-being, increase inclusiveness, just to name a few examples.

The 2024 DDM Challenge aims to inspire the next generation of engineers to tackle social sustainability issues. Some examples are included below, hinting at solutions which deploy additive manufacturing in conjunction with conventional manufacturing:

  • Reduce hunger, increase crop yields, achieve food security, particularly in disadvantaged areas (remote/isolated regions, impoverished areas, war-affected or calamity-affected zones) through manufacturing innovation. Examples include:
    • Improve food storage and longevity by leveraging architected air circulation systems to cool or maintain temperature inside containers or food storage chambers. For instance, using the concept of wind catcher.
    • Implement lattice designs and novel materials to reduce fungal and/or microbial contamination, offer sterilization solutions of food containers.
    • Develop lightweight drones for monitoring crop health and/or ripeness or scare off or remove pests without the use of pesticides or harmful approaches.
    • Implement solutions through manufacturing solutions that explore opportunities to preserve, restore quality or remediate groundwater or soil. For instance, deploying manufacturing to develop solutions for composting that allow for aeration, addition of fungi, fertilizers, or other beneficial additives at different stages in the process.
  • Community health, well-being, and safety by integrating function, aesthetics, social mindfulness through manufacturing practices:
    • Improve aesthetics or enable personalization of day-to-day objects or structures to increase happiness and acceptance of surrounding or stressful environments (hospitals, community centers, work environments, airports, etc.). Examples include art installations which allow the public to engage or interact with.
    • Improve accessibility for people with disabilities using manufacturing and design to address disabilities, while enhancing function, aesthetics, user acceptance. Examples that address mobility challenges, range from prosthetics to dynamic shoe inserts to correct gait and dampen impact through latticing and design. Example that tackles visual impairment/disabilities include design of walking canes that are portable/foldable, lightweight and provide tactile feedback of the types of surfaces encountered or distances to objects.
    • Improve access to basic healthcare needs, particularly looking at improved access to sanitation solutions for water consumption or for personal care. Examples include filtration devices for water purification, etc.
    • Improve safety of persons or communities; examples include innovative designs for vibration damping in earthquakes, ballistic impact protection, compact flotation devices.
    • Implementing advanced technologies that enhance workplace safety and reduce risks on the work floor; this may include the use of exoskeleton devices for workers that require repetitive motion and/or working with high loads.
  • Quality of education and training
    • Inclusive and equitable access to education via manufacturing, for instance development of braille or sign language visual tools to train the community for better integration of students with disabilities.
  • Achieve gender equality and tackle barriers, access to inclusive societies.
    • Facilitate the design of products that are more inclusive by accommodating a broader range of user needs. Designers can create products that cater to various cultural, age-related, and gender-specific requirements, resulting in more accessible and user-friendly solutions.

The 2024 DDM Social Sustainability challenge is the first challenge in the Sustainability series. We hope that students will be inspired to be involved in the multi-year vision.


  • Apply only existing additive or conventional technologies – not something yet to be developed.
  • Backfill conventional with additive components only, if necessary, appropriate, and possible.
  • You may address individual parts of the system or the entire system in response to this challenge.
  • Consider legal frameworks. Avoid liability/warranty issues but consider the merits and impact of private property rights under such extreme circumstances.


Complete and competitive submissions are expected in the form of a case study. After completing the challenge with advice and guidance of our judges, contestants may wish to consider preparing a funding proposal or a journal paper.

How to Enter

Steps to submit Digital Manufacturing Challenge Project

  1. Click on “DMC Submission Requirements and Judging Criteria” then “Submit Your DMC Project”
  2. Add team leader, team members and an academic advisor. Be sure to include each person’s first and last name, email address, role, and academic institution.
  3. All project files should be included in a zip folder or equivalent to be uploaded onto the platform. Files should include:
    • Template for formatting the submission to be added soon!
    • STL files of your design
    • Title of your entry on every file.
    • A document according to the “Submission and Judging Criteria” page
    • Your name(s), contact information, and résumé(s) for circulation among potential employers
    • New - Teams have the option to include a video that supports their project. It is not required, but highly encouraged. Please add the link to your video. YouTube or another file sharing platform is acceptable.

What's in it for you?

  • Complimentary conference pass to RAPID + TCT
  • A prize of $1000 will be given to the winning team and a prize of $500 will be given to the runner up.
  • A certificate of achievement
  • A recognition letter sent to the winner with a copy sent to the advisor/educator
  • Complimentary certification to take AM examination - Value $75
  • E-Text book of winner's choosing
  • Winners and runner up receive a one-year all access license to Tooling U-SME online classes

Questions About the Digital Manufacturing Challenge?