Crowdsourcing Emerging Manufacturing and Water Security Technology | TechWell

Crowdsourcing Emerging Manufacturing and Water Security Technology


What are some new ways to expand the manufacturing process and incorporate 3D printing to create new tools and applications to speed up replacing infrastructure during natural disasters? Or, to help meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water?

Borrowing from the successful NASA Challenges playbook, the US Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched several crowdsourcing efforts to incentivize new applications and technologies in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, and transforming nontraditional water sources into resources.

Manufacturing Innovator Challenges

The Manufacturing Innovator Challenge is on the website. The focus is on additive manufacturing, bioenergy, buildings, vehicle technologies, and other topics.

The first open Manufacturing Innovator challenges end on December 7, 2018:

  • 3D printing for disaster response—Concept designs for innovative and new uses of 3D printing for onsite manufacturing of critical infrastructure during hurricanes, wildfires, or other disasters. Instead of shipping infrastructure from other locations, using additive manufacturing to produce poles to carry power lines or other critical infrastructure onsite, or as close as possible to where it’s needed, could help accelerate recovery times.
  • 3D printing for solid state lighting manufacturing—New design concepts in additive manufacturing/3D printing of optical materials for solid state lighting (SSL), including advanced reflective components for luminaires. 

Upcoming Manufacturing Innovator challenges yet to be announced will look for concepts such as large scale 3D printing, bio-based additive manufacturing, low-cost portable refrigerant leak detector for residential use, and lightweight turbocharger turbine wheel.

Individual prizes range from $2,500 to $10,000. 

Water Security Grand Challenge

The DOE will also partner with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to build out the Water Security Grand Challenge, with future programs and funding opportunities to be announced. Among the top three goals of the program is to deliver cost-competitive clean water, change water produced by the energy sector from a waste to a resource, and attain near-zero water impact for new thermoelectric power plants.

Spark Your Creativity  

If you need some inspiration, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Peking University, and the Beijing Institute of Technology are working on combining origami engineering with a type of 3D printing called Digital Light Processing to manufacture complex, yet light weight, origami structures that are capable of holding significant weight. The one-step fabrication approach could have applications ranging from biomedical devices to equipment used in space exploration.

Of course, sometimes ideas pop up when we’re doing something different. Here’s an interesting challenge: How about contributing to the new Library of Congress crowdsourcing project and help transcribe thousands of documents, including letters sent to and written by Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton’s diaries, or Branch Rickey’s baseball scouting reports?

Are you up for a challenge?

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