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Digital Manufacturing Challenge

Supply Chain Opportunities Enabled by AM

Deadline: March 31, 2022

Submit Your Entry


Globalization of manufacturing supply chains brings forth opportunities that normally rely on economic, political and climate stability. When stability is challenged, we see massive economic disruptions. At the same time, we observe opportunities leveraged by entrepreneurial thinking. In the 2022 SME Digital Manufacturing Challenge, we want to empower students to envision supply chain opportunities that can be leveraged using digital manufacturing, including additive manufacturing (AM). Such examples span a wide range of domains, technical competencies and sectors; however, your solution must describe how digital manufacturing and AM/3D printing supports a break in the supply chain.

Problem Statement:

Using a finished product as subject matter, imagine a significant component or subassembly is unavailable due to supply chain disruption. Show how your design team will utilize AM to substitute for the unavailable component or subassembly.

  • Choose a significant component or subassembly, unavailable due to supply chain disruption. Consider military/medical/agriculture/transportation supply as well.
  • Redesign the part(s) for AM.
  • Decide how it will be produced, defining material and process (machine). Show rationale and comparison to the original design and other AM options.
  • Define how it is equivalent to the original part(s), citing cost concerns and warrantee issues, such as part life and performance. How does the cost of AM compare to the cost of the disruption?
    • Will it be a permanent or temporary component?
    • Can the part(s) deviate from the original? If so, what are the impacts of deviations.


View Past WinnersSubmit Your Entry



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.


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 including health, safety, and quality considerations
– Provide a description and analysis of the features and functions
– Discuss material, process, and part qualification metrics that will ensure proper function
Cost-benefit/value analysis
– Justify reason(s) for using AM (Limited, basic comparison with traditional methods - e.g. cost, time?)
Utilization of DDM material(s)
– Justify the material(s) selected and how it addresses supply chain disruptions
Novelty and utilization of DDM process(es)
– Justify the AM process(es) used considering scalability and the novelty of your approach
Design integration and innovation
– Showcase AM capabilities integrated with traditional methods to add value
Digital and physical infrastructure: Systems integration, utilization, value chain leverage, agility, lean and continuous improvement
– Discuss dissemination of designs, manufacturing coordination across and among large corporations and hobbyist makers
Marketing and logistics/distribution
– Justify market appeal, market share forecast, and just in time delivery
Social, environmental, health, safety, and regulatory compliance
– Forecast, explain, and justify the affects anticipated
Judges' discretion 5%
Total 100%


How to Enter

Steps to submit Digital Manufacturing Challenge Project

  1. Create an account in SME’s RAPID +TCT Cadmium platform
  2. Add team leader and team members. Be sure to include first and last name, email address and role.
  3. All teams must include an academic advisor. Be sure to include first and last name and email address.
  4. All team members must sign a Commitment agreement.
  5. All project files should be included in a zip folder to be uploaded into the platform. Zipped files should include:
    • STL files of your design
    • Title of your entry on every file.
    • A one-page summary stating why your design is suited for digital manufacturing
    • A description of the benefits your design brings to the consumer
    • The total mass of the resultant design as well as the volume of the additive build portion
    • Your name(s), contact information, and résumé(s) for circulation among potential employers
      • In addition, undergraduate college/university entrants must also submit a report (not to exceed three pages) containing the following elements:
        • Justification of DDM processes and materials choices
        • Social and environmental impact analysis
        • A cost-benefit analysis including an estimate of the quantity to be manufactured

Send questions regarding the competition or your final submission to

Prizes Awarded

First Prize – One university winner and one high school winner
The designer* of the entry judged to be the best example of how digital manufacturing 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 to and lodging at 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 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 2021 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