My husband and I own the first seven seasons of The Big Bang Theory on DVD, and earlier this week we were watching the episodes where engineer Howard Wolowitz travels to the International Space Station (ISS) as a payload specialist. If you’re not familiar, he goes a little stir-crazy at the end of his time there and is more than ready to come home. I always wondered what about the experience made him so ready to leave – I mean, he had a pretty great view! Was it that he was claustrophobic, or that he really missed gravity, or was it just too uncomfortable up there? Whatever Howard’s reason, I’m sure some measure of discomfort does factor in to an astronaut’s daily life aboard the ISS – sometimes their missions can last for years. A new contest from Pinshape and Made In Space is challenging students and 3D enthusiasts to create a tool, or other object, that would make life in space more comfortable for astronauts!
The Space Design Contest is just the latest in a string of recent contests from the popular online marketplace for 3D models (recently acquired by Formlabs), including a Cosplay Design Contest and a Design for Electronics challenge. Their latest challenge, sponsored by ZYYX 3D Printer, Shining 3D, Matter Hackers, and Made In Space, asks you to design an object that will make someone who is in space for long periods of time more comfortable. While I’m sure it is absolutely thrilling to live and work in space, being away from Earth for such long periods of time comes with its own set of challenges, and astronauts can be affected in many different ways.
The sky’s the limit on the kinds of objects you can create – anything from medical and first aid needs to personal hygiene tools and even entertainment in space. Pinshape has provided some resources to give potential designers a better idea of some of the things that challenge astronauts, including Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life in Space” video series. You could also visit the NASA website and find explanations and videos on eating in space, exercising in space, and even sleeping in space.
The contest reminds me a little of the recent Mouser Electronics “ISS Design Challenge” we covered a month ago; many innovative objects were designed for astronauts to use in space, like a prosthetic nose that improved the taste of astronaut food. Pinshape’s Space Design Contest closes on January 15, and is open to entrants in all countries. Some of the other criteria, according to the contest page, include:
- designs must be original works
- entrants must be registered with Pinshape to enter
- entries must comply with Pinshape’s content policy
- entries cannot have been previously submitted to a Pinshape contest; however, if your design is available on other sites, or for other contests, it is allowed
- there is no fee to enter, and entrants can submit as many unique entries as they would like
They will accept .STL, .OBJ, .FORM, .PDF, .DOCX, .TXT, and .ZIP files; the maximum file size is 100MB.
The judges, co-founder and chief engineer of Made In Space Michael Snyder and CEO of Magicfirm Europe Mats Moosberg, are judging based on several important criteria. 40 points are available for technical excellence and ease of printing, 20 points for the design’s functionality and application on the ISS, another 20 points for creativity and uniqueness, and the last 20 points for the overall presentation, including print settings, image quality, and assembly instructions (if they are required). To enter, create a tool or object that will ultimately make life easier, and more comfortable, for an astronaut living in zero gravity; obviously, that’s the hard part. Once you’ve designed and created your object, just upload it to Pinshape; while you’re on the upload form, be sure to check the box that says “Submit this model to the Space Deign Contest.”
The contest page does note that having your model 3D printed will help to illustrate the ease of printing and image quality, both of which can earn you major points. If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, Pinshape asks that you use this thread in their forums to reach out to a maker near you, who can 3D print your design for you. The winner will be announced during the week after the end of the contest. The Pinshape team will contact you directly if you’re one of the winners, and the winners will also be posted on the Pinshape blog.
The winner will receive a ZYYX+ 3D Printer, two rolls of ZYYX PLA and one roll of Flexible filament, and a MatterControl Touch T10; that’s a combined value of almost $2,600! The other prizes are nothing to sneeze at, either: the second place winner will receive an Einscan-S 3D Scanner and one roll each of MatterHackers Pro PLA and MatterHackers Nylon X Filament, and third prize is a cool MatterHackers Crafty 3D Printing Pen and 40 PLA Strands for the pen. Discuss in the Space Design Contest forum at 3DPB.com.