The 12th annual “Create the Future” Design Contest for engineers, students, and entrepreneurs worldwide, sponsored by COMSOL and Mouser Electronics, attracted more than 1,074 innovative product ideas from engineers and students in 61 countries. The Medical category itself received 95 outstanding entries from 18 countries. Analog Devices and Intel were supporting sponsors.

Winners were selected in late September from the seven categories: Medical Products, Consumer Products, Electronics, Machinery/Automation/Robotics, Sustainable Technologies, Automotive/Transportation, and Aerospace & Defense. In addition to product ideas at the concept or prototype stage, contestants could, for the first time, submit designs for commercial products introduced to the market within the last 12 months.

The Grand Prize winner receives $20,000, while the first-place winner in each category will receive a Hewlett-Packard workstation computer. The top 10 vote recipients will receive a Sphero robotic gaming ball from Orbotix. The top 100 entries receive a Certificate of Achievement.

In addition to the winners and honorable mentions listed here, there were a number of entries in other categories with medical applications. Here are just a few. The winner of the Consumer Products category, the NanoFab Lab...in a Box!, by a team from EChem Nanowires, Inc., is a kit that allows high school students to manufacture hi-tech patterned nanowires in the classroom, introducing them to nanotechnology and practical nanomanufacturing. Honorable Mention in that category is Quikiks, totally hands-free supportive footwear, by Hands-Free LLC, designed to help people with various physical or cognitive challenges to don their own footwear. Also in that category were two different navigation systems for visually impaired individuals that can help them navigate their way through unknown territory. In the Machinery/Automation/Robotics category, an entry for a Humanoid Robotic Wrist, and in the Electronics category, numerous components, including processors, power sources, and remote management systems, can be used in future medical devices.

This article introduces the Grand Prize winner, the Medical category winner, and two Medical category Honorable Mentions. The contest was established to recognize and reward engineering innovations that benefit humanity, the environment, and the economy. The top prize winners will be honored at an awards reception in New York City this month. Congratulations to all who entered. All of the entries can be seen at http://contest.techbriefs.com/2014/entries .

Grand Prize Winner

Robotic Building Construction by Contour Crafting

Behrokh Khoshnevis
University of Southern California (USC)
Los Angeles, CA

Fig. 1 – Contour Crafting uses 3D printing process to fabricate large construction components from architectural CAD models.
Behrokh Khoshnevis is a professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Astronautics Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering and is the Director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies at USC. He developed the novel additive manufacturing processes called Contour Crafting (CC), a construction technology that potentially reduces energy use and emissions by using a rapid-prototype or 3D printing process to fabricate large components. Its computerized construction method 3D prints large-scale structures directly from architectural CAD models. Walls are built up by forming their outer surfaces via extrusion of a paste-like material, such as concrete, and the use of a robotic trowel to provide a smooth contoured surface. CC is a very flexible technique, capable of constructing aesthetically pleasing “organic” curvilinear shapes as easily as “boxy” rectilinear shapes. It has attracted strong interest from leading architects.

Contour Crafting automates the construction of whole structures, and radically reduces the time and cost of construction. The result could revolutionize the construction industry, and lead to affordable construction of high quality low-income housing, as well as the rapid construction of emergency shelters and on-demand housing in response to disasters. Contour Crafting is the first and only large-scale 3D printing technology that can rapidly construct complete buildings.

The Contour Crafting technology has the following unique features:

  • Reduces construction cost to about 30% of current cost
  • Speeds up the construction process by a factor of at least 50
  • Reduces construction injuries and fatalities (400,000 and 6,000 per year, respectively, in the US and more severe in developing countries)
  • Provides emergency shelter to the more than 37 million annual victims of war and natural disaster
  • Provides dignified housing to the low income population of the world
  • Contour Crafting eliminates construction wastes as the computer precisely adds material where it is needed.
  • Dramatically reduces construction energy usage (by 90%) and CO2 emission (by 70%)
  • Promises limitless architectural features such as curved walls.