The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has partnered with Freelancer.com to hold several crowdsourcing campaigns in order to find innovative solutions to today’s manufacturing challenges and attract broad industry participation. The Manufacturing Innovator Challenge consists of six individual challenges across multiple technologies to find ideas that will enhance manufacturing in the U.S.
Through the Additive Manufacturing for Disaster Response Challenge, EERE sought design concepts that explored new applications for large-scale additive manufacturing for disaster response. Natural disasters can rapidly destroy critical large- and small-scale infrastructure (such as power lines and communications towers) and delay aid and relief efforts. By producing critical infrastructure components on site, rather than shipping them from afar, additive manufacturing has the potential to accelerate disaster recovery times.
Freelancer delivered solutions provided by specific members of their community that were competing on the challenge. The following three winners were selected:
Temporary Patch and Repair System (T-Pars)
Submitted by Stephen Stelly of California, this approach provided a simple and efficient means of 3D printing braces and mounts to temporarily support downed power lines, particularly where wooden utility poles had been snapped or bent, leaving existing structures suspended from power lines.
3D Printing Water Systems Using Recycled PET
Submitted by Anne Pauley of California, this submission focused on a sustainable approach to filtering water, thereby circumventing the need to haul in large amounts of purified drinking water into disaster zones.
Additive Manufacturing of Power Distribution Poles
Submitted by Daniel Shaner of Montana, this entry proposed a preventive measure that would increase the resilience of utility structures by taking advantage of unique elements of additive processes that can manufacture power poles capable of withstanding large transverse forces.
To learn more about the individual Manufacturing Innovator Challenges, click here.