139088There are a number of 3D printing contests and challenges going on around the world at any given time, but in the past month there was one that was particularly special. It doesn’t hold that place because of the amount of the prizes or the big names that were involved. Rather, it is of interest because it was Thailand’s first-ever 3D printing innovation and design contest.

Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, Ltd., in collaboration with Thailand’s Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), held the 3D printing contest “Enjoy Science: Let’s Print the World,” Thailand’s first-ever 3D printing innovation and design contest. The contest was conceived of as part of a larger program titled “Enjoy Science,” a public-private partnership designed to advance Thailand’s long-term national competitiveness through STEM education.

President of the NSTDA, Dr. Thaweesak Koanantakool, described the goals that he hoped would be reached through these kinds of initiatives:

“In recent years, 3D printing has come to the fore, and it will likely become part of our daily lives in the near future thanks to its unique abilities…Thailand too can greatly benefit from this technology by adapting it to our needs. Through this design contest, we are looking for novel ideas that can be further developed into quality projects with benefits to the people of Thailand or ideas that have high business potential.”

139086The contestants were divided into two categories, one for students and one for members of the general public. Out of 140 submissions, the contest ended with 20 finalists and semi-finalists whose work will be on display at Bangkok Mini Maker Faire 2015 between September 26th and 27th in Bangkok. In addition the winners and runners up were awarded prizes such as round trip tickets to visit the Maker Faire in Germany and 3D printing supplies.

There has been continued recognition on the parts of both the country’s government and private industries of the importance of involvement in the Maker movement. Chevron manager of Policy and Public Affairs Hatairat Artcharte expressed the desire to integrate the 3D print revolution in Thai making:

“We believe that the maker movement is an important foundational component in innovation. The multitude of maker creations can become the roots of successful businesses that drive social and economic growth and propel Thailand further into the era of the digital economy and innovative society. We expect this event to raise the public profile of the maker movement and inspire the rise of a new generation of makers.”

It should come as no surprise that many of the designs had a decidedly Thai flavor to them, a sneak peek at the value of contributions resulting from the expansion of participation in 3D printing and an increase in the dissemination of its products. The winner of the submissions from the general public was given to Saowakon Pummalee for her 3D printed lamps which were derived from figures prominent in the story of Ramakien, Thailand’s national epic, considered to be a masterpiece of Thai literature and still a part of every school curriculum.139081

Her work was created using a Stratasys Objet Eden 3D printer which fabricated each luminaire in several pieces that were then glued together. Each piece took approximately 20 hours to print and then required additional time to clean out the support material. To anyone familiar with Thai design, the accent of Thai art is immediately apparent in the figuring and form, and highly reminiscent of ivory carvings, an ancient tradition practiced since the Bronze age in Thailand.

EnjoyScienceThis creation in 3D printing has the advantage, of course, of requiring no ivory and yet allowing for the intricate and delicate filigree and open work. This combination of age-old aesthetic and cutting edge technology demonstrates what Thailand has to offer to the world through 3D printing, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With the strong government and private industry support that has been shown, Thailand should have no problem comfortably taking its place on the world stage of 3D printing.

Let us know your thoughts on this challenge in the Thailand’s First 3D Printing Contest forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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