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Michigan Tech’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering has an interesting challenge out to the 3D printing community in the form of their 3D Printers for Peace Contest. From their site:

3D printing is changing the world. Unfortunately, the only thing many people know about 3D printing is that it can be used to make guns. We want to celebrate designs that will make lives better, not snuff them out.

What is the Printers for Peace Contest?
We are challenging the 3D printing community to design things that advance the cause of peace. This is an open-ended contest, but if you’d like some ideas, ask yourself what Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, or Gandhi would make if they’d had access to 3D printing.

∗low-cost medical devices
∗tools to help pull people out of poverty
∗designs that can reduce racial conflict
∗objects to improve energy efficiency or renewable energy sources to reduce wars over oil
∗tools that would reduce military conflict and spending while making us all safer and more secure
∗things that boost sustainable economic development (e.g. designs for appropriate technology in the developing world to reduce scarcity)

Pictured above, for instance, is Emma Lavelle, who was able to gain the use of her underdeveloped arms with a custom 3D-printed ABS plastic exoskeleton. Using hinged metal bars and resistive rubber bands, the WREX exoskeleton gives patients with underdeveloped muscles a wide range of arm motion. The original WREX, made from machined parts, fit children as young as six, but for smaller children like Emma, researchers discovered they could 3D-print smaller, lighter parts. Printed using a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer, the ABS plastic exoskeleton allows for easy customization and fine-tuning.

The deadline for submitting entries is September 1, 2013, and winners are to be announced on September 4. First prize is a fully assembled Type A Series 1 3D printer. Second prize is a Michigan Tech MOST version of the RepRap Prusa Mendel 3D printer kit. And third prize is a MatterHackers filament sampler pack.

Goli Mohammadi

I’m senior editor at MAKE and have worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue. I’m a word nerd who particularly loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon as a whole. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for the ideal alpine lake or hunting for snow to feed my inner snowboard addict.

The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. The specific beat I cover is art, and I’m a huge proponent of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). After all, the first thing most of us ever made was art.

Contact me at goli (at) makermedia (dot) com.


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Comments

  1. Leif says:

    I think it is great they people are doing good things like this with 3d printers or with/without any other tool for that matter. I find it rather offensive that they chose to make an event out of contrasting these with guns. For myself and millions of others guns are a tool for target practice, competition, hunting and a way that families to spend time together. They do not have to be used for hurting people any more than does any other tool.

    Why can’t people just do good things without having to inject their broken politics into it? It really cheapens the whole thing.

    1. Goli Mohammadi says:

      I respect your opinion, Leif. I do think it’s important to note that guns are not always used for harmful purposes. Honestly, though, the focus of the contest is positive. There’s only one sentence that refers to guns at all in their writeup and I suspect this is just to counter all the sensationalized media coverage around 3D printing and guns (which, at its core is a non-issue).

      1. Leif says:

        I thought the contest was begun specifically in response to the 3d printed gun and it’s 15 minutes of fame. Maybe that is a mistaken impression I picked up from the fact that it is the main part of the first paragraph of their sumary? Or maybe somewhere else I read about it at actually stated that (right or wrong).

        Either way, I do think it is great that people are doing good things for people, including the story of the little girl that apears in your article. I just wish they would do it without the politics. I must admit, I wish the politcs were left out all the more when I happen to disagree with those politics but really do they ever belong? People with all sorts of opinions on guns and other controversial subjects will still support things like helping little kids with problems. Why alienate them?

  2. Jeff Carter says:

    Who is the imbecile who wrote this? You simply SUCK! Way to promote 3D printing, like any criminal is going to waste time to print one when they can simply just steal one. Gotta be moronic Obama supporters!

    1. Goli Mohammadi says:

      Jeff, it seems like you missed the point of the contest entirely. 3D printers are powerful tools that can be used for amazing purposes, as in the case of Emma’s custom WREX exoskeleton. Not sure what the rest of your comment has to do with what is being discussed here.

  3. xaqfixx says:

    If Make was really concerned with technology being used for peace they would be better served by refusing to work with DARPA than they would promoting projects maligning 3D printed guns.

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