3D Printing Industry Awards 2021 – Protolabs trophy design competition winner announced

The 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards shortlists are open for voting, have your say now.

The winner of the 3D Printing Awards 2021 trophy design competition, held in partnership with Protolabs, Craftbot and hosted on MyMiniFactory, has been announced.

The community-led competition challenged entrants to design a trophy that celebrates the unique capabilities of 3D printing, to be presented in front of the biggest names in the 3D printing industry. 

“Protolabs is excited and privileged to support the 3D Printing Industry awards for a third consecutive year,” said Tasos Pantelis, Application Engineer and 3DP Champion at Protolabs. “As a team, we are passionate about the opportunities and developments 3D printing will create in the future.

“However, it’s also important to celebrate the current and past successes of the industry, which is why we are committed to supporting the 3DPI awards, and the wider industry.”

3D Printing Industry Awards 2021.
3D Printing Industry Awards 2021.

The 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards

A well-loved feature on the additive manufacturing calendar since launching in 2016, the 3D Printing Industry Awards are returning for 2021 in an online format to be live-streamed on our YouTube channel, be sure to subscribe to receive notifications about the event.

Click here for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards live stream direct link.

The Awards are divided into categories designed to represent the broad span of 3D printing applications, technologies, companies, and people within our sector. As always, the awards are selected by our readers, and voting is now open on this year’s shortlists. Have your say on who is leading the industry right now.

To keep abreast of the latest updates on the Awards on social media, you can follow the hashtag #3DPIAwards.

We are extremely grateful to our 3D Printing Industry Award sponsors – AM Ventures, Protolabs, Marks & Clerk, 3ecruit, and TÜV SÜD – whose support has enabled the event to thrive. You can read more about the sponsors that make this event possible here.

Sponsors of the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards.
Sponsors of the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards.

Honorable mentions for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards trophy design competition

With over one hundred entries for this year’s trophy design competition and a very high standard of entries across the board, selecting the winner was no easy task for the judges here at 3D printing Industry and at Protolabs. Designers from across the globe produced fantastic work that demonstrated the unique capabilities of 3D printing.

As such, there were several designs that deserve honorable mentions for their fulfillment of the brief. 

NB: The Awards were scheduled to take place in 2020, hence the inclusion of that year in the designs.

The Cube Award by Benjamin Cann. Image via Benjamin Cann.
The Cube Award by Benjamin Cann. Image via Benjamin Cann.

Inspired by both Protolabs’ logo and this year’s 3D Printing Industry Awards banner, The Cube design by Benjamin Cann showcased the capabilities of MJF and SLA technologies in an intricate piece. Within Cann’s “organic and chaotic” design, a clear Voronoi cubic structure holds together several panels with various designs that illustrate current fields of 3D printing applications. 

The Disrupt the Limits design by Maxime Lharidon. Image via Maxime Lharidon.
The Disrupt the Limits design by Maxime Lharidon. Image via Maxime Lharidon.

Fluidity is the basis of Maxime Lharidon’s Disrupt the Limits design, which aims to embody the “endless possibilities for endless applications” of 3D printing today. Inspired by generative design, the trophy’s frame appears to have exploded and melted within the body to become an indivisible part of a whole, that is fluidized into a “new and unexpected organic shape.”

The Prisma design by Arthur Grygoryan. Image via Arthur Grygoryan.
The Prisma design by Arthur Grygoryan. Image via Arthur Grygoryan.

Arthur Grygoryan’s Prisma design is inspired by “discrete and continuous” modes of thinking and designed to encapsulate the capabilities of SLS and SLA 3D printing. The clear prism draws the eye into the trophy’s internal interwoven lattice structures and details, mounted on a lattice-structured base. 

However, there can only be one winner. And for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards the winner of the trophy design competition is James Novak.

The winner of the design competition received a 3D printer from manufacturer Craftbot. “It is always a pleasure to participate and support competitions which encourage the creativity of the users in the 3D printing industry,” said Csaba Mákos, CEO of Craftbot.

James Novak's winning trophy design for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards. Image via James Novak.
James Novak’s winning trophy design for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards. Image via James Novak.

An interview with the 2021 winner, James Novak 

3D printing research fellow, designer and maker James Novak submitted the winning trophy design that will be handed out to the recipients of this year’s Awards, which are voted for by our readers.

With a career in 3D printing spanning more than a decade, Novak is involved in many aspects of the additive manufacturing industry. As a designer, he has carried out a plethora of 3D printing projects documented on his blog, edditive, and has also conducted swathes of research into various fields of additive manufacturing as both an academic and an educator. 

Protolabs are currently 3D printing Novak’s winning design, and when the winners of the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards are announced on 21st October, each winner will receive a trophy. Novak has also received a Craftbot Flow IDEX XL 3D printer worth $3,999.

Having congratulated Novak on his winning design, 3D Printing Industry asked him a few questions about the design process and his involvement with 3D printing.

2021 3D Printing Industry Awards Trophy Design competition winner, James Novak. Photo via James Novak.
2021 3D Printing Industry Awards Trophy Design competition winner, James Novak. Photo via James Novak.

How long have you been a designer, and how did you start designing for 3D printing?

I’ve probably been a designer most of my life, and grew up being quite creative and interested in making things. When I finished high school I went straight to university to study architecture, and began working in this field. I quickly became interested in some of the custom furniture items and interior details we were designing for our projects, and decided that the long process of designing and seeing a building completed didn’t suit my short attention span! So I went back to university to study Industrial Design, and in 2009 had my first opportunity to 3D print a prototype product. 

Back then, Griffith University had one 3D printer (I think it was an early Fortus machine) and it was hidden away at a distant campus, with only one academic seeming to know its mysteries. By 2010 I was using Shapeways to 3D print a lot of my prototypes for uni, and once I started working in industry, I brought in the first desktop 3D printer (the original UP Mini) to our studio to enable us to prototype. 

To me, it just seemed completely normal to be using 3D printers. However, in 2014 I was invited back to Griffith University to help out with some teaching – and now there was an entire laboratory of desktop 3D printers available for students! I was amazed at the changes in just a few short years, and with a little research, felt like 3D printing was becoming something bigger than just a fun prototyping tool. So I quit my job, enrolled in an Honors research degree to dive deep on 3D printing, and have focussed all of my attention on design and 3D printing since then.

Can you outline your academic research within 3D printing?

My academic career has taken a number of turns, but 3D printing has been at the core of what I do for many years. Since winning the 3D Printing Industry Awards Trophy Design competition, I have now become the Senior Research Fellow in CranioFacial applications of 3D printing, based within the Herston Biofabrication Institute. This is a unique 3D printing research and manufacturing facility located within the largest hospital and health service in the state of Queensland, Australia. 

My program combines maxillofacial and neurosurgery applications of 3D printing, ranging from the use of 3D printed anatomical models for pre-surgical planning, through to investigation of bioresorbable metals and polymers for implants, as well as the development of hyper-realistic models for the education of junior neurosurgeons. It’s a bit of a dream opportunity to take everything I’ve learned about 3D printing over the last 10+ years, and use it to improve the healthcare of patients.

Prior to this, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Engineering at Deakin University, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Design at the University of Technology Sydney. This has given me many varied opportunities, including research into the use of 3D printing during the COVID-19 pandemic, 3D printed furniture, 3D printing build farms, 3D printing in education, and many more you can find through my list of academic publications.

Novak's 3Dprinted full-size bicycle frame. Photo via James Novak.
Novak’s 3D printed full-size bicycle frame. Photo via James Novak.

Can you share some highlights from your 3D printing career?

Without doubt one of the major highlights from my career was designing and 3D printing the world’s first full-size bicycle frame, which was done in 2014. This seems to have really captured people’s imagination, and still today, after seven years, gets requests for exhibitions and news articles. I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world with this bike, and it has won awards like the Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper Award at RAPID in 2015, and been exhibited at venues like the Red Dot Design Museum in Germany alongside designs by some of my 3D printing idols. I still pinch myself about this. 

Some of the other highlights are less visible, but come through the designs I share on my blog and through 3D printing file sharing websites like Thingiverse. Occasionally someone I’ve never met will get in touch to say that a design I’ve shared has really helped them out, or that they’ve been inspired by my work and want to know how to get more seriously into design or 3D printing. It makes me feel a bit old, but I love sharing my experiences and helping the next generation of designers learn about the opportunities available to them. These sorts of experiences are often much more rewarding than the big academic achievements.

What can you tell us about your winning trophy design and the concept behind it?

My ideas for the trophy were really inspired by the brief: to be 3D printed in 2 different materials and processes (MJF and SLA) and feature lattice structures and internal details. To me, this had a bit of a yin and yang feel to it, with MJF parts being dark grey or black, and SLA being translucent. So I built on this, creating a sculptural form that was then split into 2 pieces, with the lower MJF part featuring an external lattice structure like an exoskeleton, and the clear SLA part featuring internal lattice structures that could be seen but not touched. 

I really wanted to push the complexity of both parts and ensure they were designed for additive manufacturing, not possible to make any other way. I also wanted the connection between both parts to be interesting and complex, so I used the 3D Printing Industry Awards logo to connect the lower MJF part through the SLA part and be exposed at the top. For me, this was an opportunity to have some creative freedom and push some of the software tools that I don’t normally get to do in my research work.

What are your thoughts on the Craftbot Flow IDEX XL? What projects have you carried out using the printer so far?

Unfortunately (or fortunately) not long after winning this competition I also got my job at the Herston Biofabrication Institute. This involved a huge interstate move for me and my family, and the Craftbot went straight into a storage container. We’ve only just settled in a new house and unloaded the container, so I’m really excited to finally unpack the printer and put it to work!

The overall winner of this year's 3D Printing Industry design competition will receive a CraftBot Flow IDEX XL 3D printer (pictured). Image via MyMiniFactory.
The CraftBot Flow IDEX XL 3D printer. Image via Craftbot.

What 3D printing projects do you have planned for the future?

Most of my 3D printing in the foreseeable future is related to medical devices and models. I’ve recently been printing some samples with the Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy printer to give to our neurosurgeons to test the haptic qualities of different materials to represent skin, skull, brain etc, and our goal is to be 3D printing hyper-realistic models to be used to educate junior neurosurgeons over the coming years. I’m also excited about 3D printing artificial eyes, and a few top-secret projects that I hope people will hear about (and benefit from) very soon!

In my spare time, I’m also looking forward to 3D printing some new lights for my house – I’d just finished 3D printing every light in my last house before packing up and moving, so it will be fun to come up with some new larger designs to 3D print in the larger build volume of the Craftbot.

How did you hear about the competition?

I heard about this competition through the daily 3D Printing Industry newsletter.

There is still time to vote on the shortlists for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards. The winners will be announced on 21st October, and you can watch the awards live on our YouTube channel.

Novak's 3D printed lights. Photo via James Novak.
Novak’s 3D printed lights. Photo via James Novak.

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Featured image shows James Novak’s winning trophy design for the 2021 3D Printing Industry Awards. Image via James Novak.