This competition is divided into three separate categories (listed below). The examples provided are intended to show the wide diversity of potential innovations for each topic, but submissions are not limited to the examples given in the topic areas. Only one submission per topic per entity is permitted. Each submission must identify the topic area that best matches the innovation. However, if your idea is a combination of two or more topics, identify the primary and secondary topics to which it belongs. MForesight staff will coordinate with the judges to assign the submission to the correct topic area.
TOPIC 1: LOW-VOLUME MANUFACTURING HARDWARE
Small volume manufacturing of innovative and specialized products at economical pricing can benefit many different industries, from medical devices to defense to consumer products. Cost-competitive manufacturing at low-volume sizes (500-10,000 units) is essential to increase the variety and value of what an individual or small team can create. A submission to Topic 1 must include the following two themes:
- Describe your novel solution or a proposed novel approach that enables the cost-effective domestic production of low-volume quantities. Elaborate on the technology or set of technologies that underlie this solution.
- Clearly define the manufacturing lot-sizes that the innovation can achieve, and elaborate on why your solution would be considered to be a “low-volume” manufacturing solution (as opposed to making some number of individual items.)
- Describe how the solution can result in the ability for small/mid-size enterprises to compete with mass-produced goods or goods manufactured offshore. Describe how the solution can result in positive attributes such as: improved responsiveness, shorter lead times, easily customized products, and reduction of costly supply chain logistics.
In general, while a proposed innovation may not yet be fully capable of manufacturing thousands of units, it must be a harbinger for how such production may be possible in 3 to 5 years.
EXAMPLES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- Technology for reconfigurable dies and molds (zero tooling cost).
- Technology for massively parallel additive manufacturing methods, where entire layers or large regions are formed at once, rather than point by point.
- Technology to substantially lower die and mold production cost.
- Automation tools for die and mold design, or tools to enable fully automated setup of manufacturing equipment or production lines.
- Novel molding, casting, or forming technologies that excel at producing low-volume quantities.
- Manufacturing tools/equipment that are substantially lower cost than traditional tools/equipment, or that substantially improve the quality of current desktop manufacturing tools to enable affordable, quality manufacturing at the individual and community level. (e.g. computer-numerically controlled (CNC) equipment, laser cutters, equipment for vacuum forming, molding, etc.)
- Novel low-cost approaches to computer vision and machine learning for manufacturing (especially integration of open source approaches).
- Low cost and scalable manufacturing technology for emerging areas (e.g. nano-manufacturing, flexible electronics or sensors, etc.)
TOPIC 2: HARNESSING THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION FOR MANUFACTURING
Describe how your innovation harnesses information technology tools and approaches, such as information management, collaboration, virtual spaces, computer vision and machine learning tools, etc., to increase the variety and value of what an individual or small team can design, prototype, and manufacture. Discuss the impact of your innovation on cost-effective, low-volume manufacturing.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Software tools for creating a more seamless transition from a digital representation of a product to its physical manifestation, not unlike hitting the “print” button for a word processing file to print a physical document.
- Affordable cloud computing and next-generation design tools which can generate thousands of options that all meet the specified high-level goals of a designer, including functional requirements, material type, cost, etc.
- Open interfaces for machine tools and machine tool components that allow for greater user-driven and third party innovation, and customized machine tools that can be rapidly assembled from standard components.
- Collaboration tools (and business models) that enable multiple small entities to coordinate on delivering a cost-effective, higher value solution.
TOPIC 3: DEMOCRATIZATION OF MANUFACTURING KNOWLEDGE
There is a wealth of knowledge and know-how in manufacturing, but that knowledge and know-how is spread across many books, videos, tool suppliers, engineers, and tradespeople. The challenge is to provide the right information to the right people at the right time. Technological advances provide a wealth of ways to compile and distribute this knowledge.
Describe how your innovation will enable manufacturing knowledge to be shared easily and broadly. Justify how the innovation improves knowledge-sharing to enhance and deepen the user’s understanding of manufacturing.
EXAMPLES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- Intelligent design tools that guide the users towards alternative manufacturable designs, while teaching core design issues through the design process.
- Interactive design education tools that provide interactive lessons on manufacturing in the context of designing a part.
- Simulation software that allows users to create and test a manufacturable part within the context of a game.
- An encyclopedia (or “Wiki”) with a novel user interface that quickly and easily presents the designer with relevant manufacturing knowledge.
An app-based formalism for the creation, access and use of product-specific, design-for-manufacturing compilers.