There are two Uplift Prizes that aim to jointly improve the lives of 1 billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020, a Personal Manufacturing Prize, and a Water Liberation Prize. The prize outlines are below, and are subject to revision before the deadlines. The prize specifications are also available on the Humanity+ website.
Personal Manufacturing Prize :
An industrial infrastructure to provide the products and employment that elevates illiterate and semi-literate people in emerging economies to an intermediate level of human development can take decades to build. With the success of China in assimilating so much of the global economy’s low-cost manufacturing output, many of the world’s poorest nations have no opportunity to construct and secure their own manufacturing sector. Hence, this stage of human upliftment has become a chasm that many nations are finding difficult to cross.
But if manufacturing itself can be brought to the scale that cottage industries operate in, then the scale of Chinese mass-manufacturing is no longer a requirement to be cost competitive. A technology that removes the fixed costs and volume necessities associated with heavy manufacturing can reduce the barriers to entry for the manufacturing of many commodity goods, and drive costs to unprecedented lows. The RepRap project is a self-replicating machine that could provide a disruptive influence in democratizing access to the manufacturing of commodities. An incentive-driven approach to the invention of such a technology at suitable cost targets would yield the maximum benefit.
The key resistance points are presently the percentage of the self-replicated machine that can be replicated by a parent machine, and the availability of a suitable material that is sufficiently low in cost. Until the overwhelming majority of the machine’s parts are self-replicated, the true benefits are not yielded, and until the material used is inexpensive enough to surpass the cost barriers met by high-volume mass production, self-replicating machines are not fully competitive.
There will be two Personal Manufacturing prizes, awarded by a panel of judges. The first ‘interim’ prize of up to $20,000 with an award date of June 30, 2013, and the second ‘grand’ prize of up to $80,000 with an award date of December 31, 2015.
Interim Personal Manufacturing prize :
3D printers that print a significant fraction of their own parts currently have to be assembled by people. As the printers become more efficient at printing, this need for assembly becomes an increasingly restraining bottle-neck to their spread. This could be addressed by some form of automated assembly, or it could be addressed by making the printers easier for people to put together (or both).
The Interim Personal Manufacturing Prize intends to reward solutions to this problem. The prize will be awarded to the inventor or team of inventors who create the 3D printer that can be assembled from its components to a fully working state most quickly by one person and that:
- Requires the least skill and experience from that assembly person,
- Has a low total one-off materials and parts cost,
- Has a high proportion of its own parts that it can print for itself,
- Requires a minimum of specialist parts that it doesn’t make for itself,
- Has a low power requirement when running, and
- Is completely open-source.
The deadline for prize submission is May 31, 2013, with a winner to be selected and announced on June 30, 2013.
To submit an entry for the prize :
1) The entering team has to show that they have been publishing periodically, via their Google archives, the RepRap wiki, or other sources.
2) A video demonstrating that their system meets the prize specs should be submitted. A suitable video might be 10-15 minutes long.
3) Further specifications (such as drawings, etc.) to explain what may not be evident in the video, to demonstrate the meeting of prize specs.
Grand Personal Manufacturing Prize :
After the entries submitted for the Interim prize are available publicly, the open-source dynamic of the RepRap community will proceed from there.
The current generation of RepRap technology takes up to three weeks to print a full set of parts. 90% of this time is consumed in supporting tasks like positioning and reloading the printer, and replacing print plates, etc. Only 10% of the time is used for actual printing. The Grand Prize would seek to make the technology more rapidly scalable by increasing the productivity of the replication process. As a bonus, the Grand Prize may additionally be helpful in recycling material waste (such as plastics) into material suitable for RepRap use. Plastics such as HDPE and Polypropylene, of which millions of tons exist as waste matter, may be suitable candidates, and recycling of such waste material would be viewed favorably by the judging panel.
There are three parameters that will be used to judge the efforts of the teams participating in the competition.
- That the cost of the material used for printing does not exceed $4/kilogram.
- The capacity to print a full set of parts for a complete replica of itself within 7 days, including the time for reloading, and clearing of printer head jams.
- Maintain a total materials and parts cost under $200 and that 90% of the volume of the printer parts be printed.
The committee envisions a variety of technologies which might be deployed to achieve this end including :
- Software to drive and manage banks of RepRap printers
- Hardware and software systems to automatically unload printed parts from RepRap printers
- Hardware and software systems to sort, clean and package or assemble printed parts
- Innovations in plastics recycling, and development of a suitable grinder and extruder
The nature of the competition and the requirements for participants are as follows :
- While teams participating in the competition for the Grand Prize will register at the beginning of the competition, it is not expected that the membership of said teams will necessarily remain static thereafter. Any teams can merge with each other if so desired.
- Participating teams are expected to regularly publish and make available their technology on an ongoing basis. All technology developed by participating teams becomes open source under a BSD license. Therefore, the winning team will have to have published at least some of their innovations more than 12 months before the deadline.
It is expected that participating teams will borrow each others’ better innovations during the development process. The committee reserves the right to apportion the Grand Prize amongst teams should such borrowed technology comprise a major portion of the winning entry.
Water Liberation Prize :
At least 2 billion humans, or 30% of humanity, do not have access to clean drinking water. This includes 40% of the world’s children under the age of 15. A lack of access to clean water is the root cause of multiple problems, from fatal conditions like dehydration and diseases such as cholera and dysentery to the indirect costs of lost productivity. That this most basic of problems still affects such a large percentage of humanity demands a solution that can overcome traditionally existing obstacles, such as a lack of rainfall, irrigation, and access to electricity. An incentive-driven approach to the invention of such a self-reliance device at suitable cost targets would yield the maximum benefit.
A device available for under $3, that can produce enough drinking water for a single adult, would cause a net annual economic benefit of $500 for the recipient in the economy that they presently reside in. The $500 estimate is the sum total of disease reduction, death rate reduction, and productivity increase that access to this water would result in. These gains would be cumulative for each subsequent year as well. Lastly, such a device would enable human settlement at greater distances from traditional water sources, as long as atmospheric humidity was above a certain level. Clearly, the $3 water purification device is a very compelling product for a humanitarian organization to distribute en masse.
The winner of the Water Liberation Prize of up to $50,000 will be the first person to invent a device that is either solar powered, manually cranked, or otherwise not dependent on the existence of an electrical grid, can produce at least 4 liters of potable (drinkable) water per day, either condensed from the air (as measured in approximate 50% ambient humidity) or filtered through a nanomembrane, and can be mass-produced (as demonstrated by a pilot run of 5-10 units) for a cost of less than $3 per unit (as quoted by a contract manufacturer off of the pilot run bill of materials). The filter should be washable and re-usable, without requiring a periodic supply of new filters, as the device may be used in areas without access to a suitable distribution channel.
The prize will be awarded on December 31, 2015, by a panel of judges.