COMPETITION: SME Digital Manufacturing Challenge 2021

The global coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 brought with it a variety of public health challenges and economic consequences at a scale, scope, and pace not experienced in many decades. 3D Printing and additive manufacturing were called upon to help quickly…

The global coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 brought with it a variety of public health challenges and economic consequences at a scale, scope, and pace not experienced in many decades. 3D Printing and additive manufacturing were called upon to help quickly fill inventory and supply shortages of medical equipment from basic personal protective equipment to more sophisticated respirators and ventilators. This rapid and focused response by the manufacturing sector and the additive manufacturing community was integral to a variety of other essential critical infrastructure sectors and their workers, and was vital to slowing the spread and mitigating the many adverse consequences of the virus – saving many lives.

The imperatives of exponential growth exhibited by the coronavirus pandemic challenge us to think beyond reactive and proactive to execute predictively by employing system-level tools such as big data and infrastructure modeling to anticipate and coordinate in real time with and among all involved and affected communities. Given the lessons continuing to be learned, the 2021 Digital Manufacturing Challenge is a call for action to inspire the next generation of engineers to re-think ways to design, create, and utilize infrastructure-level systems that deploy engineering design and manufacturing solutions to strengthen infrastructure in the response, mitigation and/or prevention of such disruptive and devastating events and envision an optimistic view of healthy, robust, sustainable, smart, agile, peaceful 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 that meet the needs of both the few and the many – often on demand.

Increasing interoperability, shorter product lifecycles, and 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.


Provided as a starting reference but NOT as a suggestion, relevant accepted current standards for medical electrical ventilator equipment include EN 60601-1-1:2001 for non-invasive applications and EN 60601-1:2006, EN 60601-1-1:2001, and EN 60601-2-12:2006 for invasive applications.

Students are asked to consider the many aspects of digital manufacturing and how they may also enhance sustainability and security while preserving health, wellbeing, and even the joy of living through applications combining additive and subtractive manufacturing.

Concepts like real-time exchanges to facilitate identification, mobilization, and integration of engineering, design, verification, material, manufacturing, assembly, testing, validation, packaging, and shipping resources across the value chain are proposed to accelerate end-to-end delivery of solutions when and where needed. Because speed is vital, engineering is challenged to define design(s), performance requirements, and bills of material utilizing available “off the shelf” components where possible.

Therefore, cross-functional student teams are challenged to go beyond “additive only” to leverage the full power of digital manufacturing through design, analysis, and optimization. Entries shall comprehend just-in-time point-of-care solutions featuring globally distributed manufacturing and rapid deployment of an end-to-end system, not just a component. Possible solutions may include infrastructure-level systems or elements. They may be fixed and centralized or distributed, delivered on time, and at scale.



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 and safety considerations
– Provide a description and analysis of features and functions 15%
Cost-benefit/value analysis
– Justify reason(s) for using AM 10%
Utilization of DDM material(s)
– Justify the material(s) selected 10%
Utilization of DDM process(es)
– Justify the AM process(es) used considering scalability 10%
Design integration and innovation
– Showcase AM capabilities integrated with traditional methods to add value 15%
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 20%
Marketing and logistics/distribution
– Justify market appeal, market share forecast, and just in time delivery 10%
Social, environmental, health, safety, and regulatory compliance
– Forecast, explain, and justify the affects anticipated 5%
Judges’ discretion 5%
Total 100%

How to Enter
Steps to submit Digital Manufacturing Challenge Project

Create an account in SME’s RAPID +TCT Cadmium platform
Add team leader and team members. Be sure to include first and last name, email address and role.
All teams must include an academic advisor. Be sure to include first and last name and email address.
All team members must sign a Commitment agreement.
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