Winners of 3D Printers for Peace contest

In June we told you of the 3D Printers for Peace contest created by associate professor of materials science Joshua Pearce. Pearce was frustrated with all the media attention that the first 3D printed gun was getting, so he convinced his school, Michigan Tech to host the contest. The contest website states “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.”

The aim of the contest is simple: encourage people to design printable things that can help others. Entries could be tools, educational, energy-related, and anything else that people could benefit from. The printable aspect makes the solutions portable, affordable, and local, as entries must be printable on desktop FDM printers. The winners certainly deserved the rewards, as their designs all captured the spirit of the contest well, serving as practical solutions to real world problems. Click the titles to see the Thingiverse files.

First Prize: John Van Tuyl’s VaxBeads


Immunizations are a very effective tool in managing health and disease, but getting them to who needs them most is complicated by inefficient tracking systems. Vaccination cards are not standardized and can be easily lost, so precious vaccines often go to children that have already been inoculated. John feels that beads will be tougher and easier to keep up with; kids will also put more value on something solid that they can feel and wear. They’re designed to be easy to read — each color and shape represents a different vaccination — and printed on the spot with the patient’s name and date of birth. “This tool allows health care workers to quickly assess which vaccines a child has and which vaccines a child needs. It also gives parents a simple tool to ensure that their child has the necessary vaccines.” Brilliant. That’s why John received a Type A Machines Series 1 3D printer.

Second Prize: Matt Courchaine’s Solar Powered Water Purification Cone


As far as things that are necessary for human survival go, water is at the top of the list. Clean water. Millions die to dehydration and dysentery from contaminated water. Matt’s printable cone purifies water naturally through the process of evaporation with solar heat. Dirty water in the black reservoir evaporates and the clean water condenses onto the white cone, dripping down into a catch. No fuel or filters required. “My hope is that this design and any future derivatives of this design will provide a cheap and effective way to provide relief to those who do not have access to clean fresh water.” And that’s why you deserve the Michigan Tech MOST Prusa, Matt.

Third Prize: Aaron Meidinger’s Braille tablets


Communication is still a barrier in 2013, especially for deaf and blind people. Blind people can’t read public signs or computer screens. There are Braille translators, but one first has to learn Braille to use them. Aaron designed a printable tablet system that helps anyone teach someone else Braille; each piece has the English letter and Braille on it. They can be arranged into messages too, left to relay some information for a blind person. Very useful. Aaron won a MatterHackers filament sample pack.

These are all great ideas and I’m sure they’ll be further developed, and hopefully used to help someone. I’d like to see this contest continue and grow.