Brandy Leigh Scott has suffered from a debilitating hand deformity condition since she was seven years old. Last year, a group that supplies 3-D printing materials designed tools to help Scott live a fuller life. This was the catalyst to band together like-minded companies to create the Within Reach Challenge.
MatterHackers, Ultimaker, Pinshape, and Enablingthefuture.org are collaborating on the Within Reach Challenge, a worldwide 3-D printing design contest that asks participants to think up functional, assistive tools for individuals with limited mobility of their hands. The all-ages contest, which runs until September 6, is open to professional designers, as well as summer camps, classrooms, and makerspaces.
This is the first major worldwide contest that Matterhackers has been involved with from ideation to completion, though they have supported other contests in the past either by judging or donating prizes.
“The 3-D printing community is full of people who want to help give people ideas on what they can use 3-D printers for, outside of Yoda heads and tree frogs. Luckily these passionate people have started companies like Ultimaker and Pinshape who have expertise in rallying community and online contest logistics and best practices,” said Matterhackers CEO Lars Brubaker.
Pinshape will be hosting submissions for the contest on their site. The judges include Scott, Pinshape Ambassador Les Hall, Jen and Ivan Owen, creators of enablingthefuture.org, and Dave Gaylord, Director of Marketing at MatterHackers.
The prizes include 3D printers from Ultimaker, gift cards, 3D printing pens, and much more.
Brubaker could imagine this contest becoming a yearly event, or even a quarterly one.
“There is no limitation to the number of disabilities out there for which there are groups of people in need. Our hope is that this inspires designers and hobbyist to look around and contribute to the community, even if it is not within a specific challenge,” Brubaker said.
This contest comes in the midst of a boom in 3-D printing, with the market wide open for innovation in the years to come. Someday, a 3-D printer could be in every home, but Brubaker isn’t sure how soon that will be.
“In five years, I think it is aggressive to say that there will be a 3-D printer in every home, but there will be a 3-D printer at every engineer’s desk, and most likely in every school district, if not every school. Community maker spaces and libraries will have them, and will be teaching people to look at the world differently,” Brubaker said.
Those looking for a little leg-up over the competition can use this advice from Brubaker when coming up with their own designs.
“When it comes to designing tools, Simplicity always wins. Get into your community and find a real person to design for. It’s so rewarding.”