At the 3D Pioneers Challenge 2021, professionals, young professionals, start-ups and students from 32 countries and five continents inspired with innovations in additive manufacturing and advanced technologies.

The 3D Pioneers Challenge

3D Pioneers Challenge. MakingOf - Trophäe vor Winner-Schirm
3DPC 21 – Trophy. © 3DPC 2021

3DPC, the international design competition for additive manufacturing processes and advanced technologies, is an interface for all pioneers who deal with new technologies and use 3D printing to advance their projects.

Unique in its structure, the 3D Pioneers Challenge has been addressing designers in several disciplines since 2015 who are breaking new ground with 3D printing and feel the important currents. The award addresses specialists worldwide who think outside the box – pushing boundaries!

In the sixth year of the innovation competition, submissions from 32 countries and five continents faced the top-class 21-member international jury. The focus of the 3D Pioneers Challenge 2021 was not only on the core area of additive manufacturing, but also on innovations in the field of advanced technologies. The group of participants included pioneers from professionals, young professionals, start-ups as well as students.

“Once again, we are thrilled with this year’s pioneers. Every time we think that no more improvement is possible, the creative minds prove us wrong – Advanced Technologies never stop pushing boundaries. We are proud that the paradigm shift of our vibrant times can be felt on the 3DPC platform. With the agency Jangled Nerves, we have gained a strong supporter to organise this exciting digital happening and to give the finalists, winners and partners a stage”, say Simone and Christoph Völcker (Founder of the 3D Pioneers Challenge).

The 3D Pioneers Challenge is the world’s largest and most prestigious design competition of its kind for advanced technologies, with a total prize value of over €70,000, in addition to the invaluable international community and awareness and the limited edition 3DPC Trophy from Ross Lovegrove, Hyperganic and Materialise.

The Digital Awards Ceremony

Directly following the first day of the “RapidTech.3D digital” congress, which took place on 22 and 23 June, the virtual 3DPC awards ceremony was streamed live from Stuttgart. The digital event also offered other highlights in addition to the awards and the presentation of prizes by members of the jury.

Patrik Schumacher (Principal Zaha Hadid Architects, London), for example, set the mood for the pioneers of advanced technologies with his keynote speech and underlined the opportunities opened up by the exchange around new technologies on the 3DPC platform and its community. Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee as well as the Managing Director of Messe Erfurt GmbH, Michael Kynast, gave speeches to welcome the audience. In an interview with Simone Völcker (3DPC), Jennifer Arroyo (NTopology, New York) talked about this year’s “special feature” of 3DPC&Friends, which gave participants access to new types of digital tools – continuing education at the next level! Immediately before the eagerly awaited live announcement of the main winner, Autodesk, broadcasting from Toronto (CAN), awarded the three “Special Mention by Autodesk” winners.


The winners of 2021

Main winner – Winner FashionTech: Hexr

„3D Pioneers Challenge 2021 Winner FashionTech“ // Hauptpreisträger : Hexr
3DPC 2021 Winner FashionTech. Main winner : Hexr © James Cook, Henry Neilson, Aleksandr Mattal, Mark Brown, Jess Lewis, George Jary, Theo Clarke, Chris Davies, Annebeth, Buis, Marija Trachtenberg, Joanne Clarke, Robin Spicer, Nia Simpson. Great Britain. Photo: James Cook

The creation of the helmet starts with a fitting-scan of the head, which is quickly measured by the companies guided app using a cloud of points and the customized HEXR is automatically generated on the server. HEXR places great emphasis on social impact and sustainability – the PA11-based material consists of 100% castor oil. It is sustainably sourced by Arkema through the Pragati initiative, which supports sustainable farming methods, reduced water consumption and fair working conditions. The inner honeycomb structures and the smaller helmet components are 3D printed. The finishing touches include the assembly outer shell, chin straps, padding and an optional 3D-printed ratchet system. The helmet is not only custom made, but additionally personalised with the customers own engraving to truley give the helmet that personal touch. HEXR is one of the first products to make it to mass production on the market through hybrid manufacturing using Advanced Technologies.

Jurystatement by Anna Wilhelmi, adidas Future team:
“Does the product solve a real problem for the user?”
“Has AM been used in an innovative way to solve the problem?”
“Is the process and the materilisation sustainable?”
“Do the design aesthetics appear to the consumer?”
The jury was clear that Hexr wins, as the 4 questions to win in this category FashionTech could be answered with 4 clear “YES!”.

Best student – Winner Design: Self adjusting fire

„3D Pioneers Challenge 2021 Winner Design“ // Best student: Self adjusting fire
3DPC 2021 Winner Design. Best student: Self adjusting fire
© Hochschule Darmstadt. Felicia Hamm, Prof. Tom Philipps. Germany.

The „Self adjusting fire“ is a conceptual application for secondarily changing metal printing in a self-adjusting stove. Here, the object of the fireplace is no longer rigid, but changeable.

With the help of a chimney sweep, it was discussed that stoves with only 3kW/h are suitable for most households in order not to waste too much energy. However, such “micro stoves” are difficult to adjust, so incorrect operation often means increased emissions. To regulate the under-air supply, the 3D structure underneath the support plate expands and allows air to flow in depending on the weight of the wood on top. The outer special metal-printed structure expands as the temperature rises and thus indicates the fire process to the user. This also increases the surface area to heat the room. In addition, this change in structure closes off the air supply, preventing it from burning too quickly. 4D-printed bimetals could generate this formation

Jury statement by Lutz Dietzold, German Design Council
“This design convinces through it´s application to rethink the problems of emisson by also pushing the boundaries of 4D-metal-printing and smart materials. This concept combines sustainable consumption, contemporary design and is bringing atmosphere to our homes.”

Winner Digital: THE BRUSH – Recreating humankind´s first tool

„3D Pioneers Challenge 2021 Winner Digital“: THE BRUSH - Recreating humankind´s first tool
3DPC 2021 Winner Digital. THE BRUSH – Recreating humankind´s first tool. © Süß & friends Ingenieurbüro, Philipp Süß. Germany

What if we reinvented the past instead of the future? Perhaps older than humanity itself, the brush was invented by grabbing twigs. Has it changed significantly? What is different about a toothbrush, hairbrush or dishbrush than a handful of plastic twigs?

Philipp Süß took a single, flexible material and locally changed its mechanical properties by forming complex natural and geometric structures. The result is a multifunctional brush – made from a single material and in one production step, which is only possible with 3D printing:

A coral-like lamellar structure and an absorbent sponge structure are combined to form a cleaning head. The handle has an inner diamond structure for rigidity and a cell-like surface on the grip. A water connection with sealing lips is integrated in the upper finger groove. When connected to the IKEA tap, water is flushed evenly through the cleaning head.

Jurystatement by Valentina Kerst,
State secretary Ministry of Economics, Science and Digital Society Thuringia.
“Advanced Technologys are used so wisely in this winning entry. They rethink a traditional product from the round up and completely redesign its performance. The jury was impressed about how the team used digital tools to realise the concept.”

Winner Sustainability and Material: Protomycokion

„3DPC 2021 Winner Nachhaltigkeit und Material“: Protomycokion
3DPC 2021 Winner Sustainability and Material: Protomycokion. © Lund University. Ana Goidea, David Andréen. Denmark

Protomycokion demonstrates the potential of 3D printing with biomaterials in a “new paradigm of manufacturing”: working with nature and biology both as inspiration and as the actual driver of transformation. This bio-FDM process involves 3D printing with living fungi, which bind wood particles after extrusion through their biological growth. In this way, the mycelium grows within the wood composite and re-fibres it as it reaches for nutrients.

Fungi are the archetype of the circular economy: they are the most important decomposers of our world, transforming waste into new organisms. Here, fungi become “agents of transformation” and bring us closer to a more sustainable material culture. The complex geometries of 3D printing allow oxygen to flow through the structure due to their large surface area, which promotes fungal growth. This makes it possible to produce more powerful materials than was previously possible.

Jurystatement by Joachim Stumpp, raumprobe Stuttgart
“This project convinced in both categories- because what can be better than sustainable materials? But to be successful you need to focus on how to produce and implement latest technologies like regrowing materials. This winning concept could change so many applications already today and could be transferred to packaging solutions for example or many more in the future.”

Winner Architecture: HivE

„3DPC 2021 Winner Architektur“: HivE
3DPC 2021 Winner Architecture: HivE. © Lithium Designers GmbH. Dr.-Ing Alamir Mohsen, Dr.-Ing Michael Drass, Lorenz Riedel, Benjamin Kryts, Ghaith Tish. Germany

HivE is a pilot project for the use of metallic 3D printing in the construction industry. The parametric planning of the project was carried out using the Li3 method, which was developed as part of the doctorate of the founder Dr.-Ing. Alamir Mohsen. It is used for planning complex façades and building envelopes. HivE contains 134 3D-printed aluminium nodes. Each node is individually optimised in its geometry, based on its load condition. The nodes were generated and calculated in the Li3M software developed by Lithium Designers GmbH. Li3M is based on the Li3 method and offers a closed, automated planning cycle for free-form façades – from design to execution. The implementation of HivE started at the beginning of March 2021.

Jurystatement by Sonja Rasch, Sales Director and BD serial production/aerospace at Materialise
“This real project combines intelligent parametric design and sustainable aspects to rethink façade design. We are excited to see these façades everywhere in the world!”

Winner Technology & Process: MeaTech

„3DPC 2021 Winner Technology & Process“: MeaTech
Printed meat for sustainability and animal welfare in production. © MeaTech3D. Sharon Fima (CEO and CTO), Dan Kozlovski (VP of R&D), et. al. Israel

Cellular Agriculture aims to make meat production sustainable. The bio-printer and tissue engineering technologies enable 3D tissue design and bioprinting.

First, stem cells are gently taken from the umbilical cord of cattle. The cells are grown and then expressed in cell types, for example in fat or muscle, before being formulated into bio-inks and loaded into the MeaTech bioprinter. This layers the cells as well as cell nutrients on top of each other in a matrix in a 3-dimensional form with such accuracy that the materials can replicate the complex biological tissue structures of meat. The printed basic structures are transferred to incubators where the cells mature into tissue. MeaTech-produced meat thus creates an authentic mouthfeel with texture and taste like beef, enabling the mass production of sustainable meat without harming the environment and without animal cruelty.

Jurystatement by Joris Peels, Vice President Consulting at SmarTech Analysis and Executive Editor at 3DPrint.com
“This company brings the most fundamental change and is the biggest pioneer in the area how things are produced. This will really affect how the world makes sense.”

Winner Mobility: Waldwiesel – the first 3D printed Gravel E-Bike

„3DPC 2021 Winner Mobility“: Waldwiesel - the first 3D printed Gravel E-Bike
3DPC 2021 Winner Mobility: Waldwiesel – the first 3D printed Gravel E-Bike. © Urwahn Engineering GmbH. Sebastian Meinecke, Ramon Thomas. Germany

In designing the Waldwiesel, its developers pushed metallurgical 3D printing to the limits to create a balance of form, function, lightweight construction and material.

The use of 3D printing enabled the development of an unprecedented steel frame design. The special rear frame suspends the rear wheel elastically and generates a new kind of riding comfort, as any shocks and unevenness can be compensated. Accompanied by the targeted optimisation of the 3D printed components, the system weight could also be drastically reduced.

Visually, the steel frame is reminiscent of high-end monocoque frames. If you follow the elegant profiles in detail, you can also discover numerous technical integrations, such as a GPS tracker, LED light units and a powerful electric drive. This makes the hunt through the forest a visual and functional pleasure.

Jurystatement by Ross Lovegrove.
“In the new age of design- engineering and design converges, dealing in a new way with energy. The new generation of cyclist is being privileged to be able to ride this elegant and advanced bike.”

Winner MedTech: Custom made mitral valve

„3DPC 2021 Winner MedTech“: Custom made mitral valve
3DPC 2021 Winner MedTech: Custom made mitral valve. © 3D Medlab. Laura Revol, Donatien Campion. France

Mitral valve regurgitation occurs when the valve that is supposed to prevent blood from flowing backwards during diastole remains open. This leads to poor oxygenation, fatigue or the feeling of being “out of breath”.

The best solution today is to replace the valve with a NiTinol valve support. This standardised solution has not yet been customised. The morbidity and mortality for patients is high. The project makes it possible to develop customised implants that reduce leakage and complications and increase patient survival. A CAD file of the patient’s aortic valve is created from the patient’s anatomical data as a reference for positioning the nodes. A mesh connecting the nodes is designed and the thickness of the struts is adjusted to control the force acting in the valve. As NiTinol is difficult to process, this method is not possible with conventional manufacturing technologies.

Jurystatement by Dr. Cora Lüders-Theuerkauf, Medical goes Additive e.V / Mobility goes Additive e.V.
“These pioneers are using AM in such an innovative way for medical applications currently and are setting the milestone for more exciting developments in the future.”


Mehr about the 3D Pioneers Challenge

Visit the homepage of the 3D Pioneers Challenge 2021

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