i.materialise Machine Man Human Augmentation Design Challenge

The i.materialise Machine Man Human Augmentation Design Challenge is inspired by Sci Fi author Max Barry”s book Machine Man. Max, together with other judges, Fab@Home founder and Cornell bio-robotics professor Hod Lipson and 3D printed prosthetics designer Scott Summit will be looking for a design that urges us to look at the future of 3D printing humans.

We’re challenging to design a 3D printed titanium implant or augmentation for the human body. Something that will improve the functionality of the body or improve it aesthetically.

If we can make anything using 3D printing, how will we change ourselves? What will the piercings of the future look like? Will many people use elective implants? What kind of implants will they use? What would be some titanium implants that would make you happy? Some examples could be an earring that attaches to an iPhone to improve reception by turning the person into an antenna, an implant that holds the nose open from the inside to increase air flow or an implant around the vocal folds to increase or decrease the pitch of someone’s voice mechanically. Above you can see a drawing of “Chopsticks” a prothetic design by Scott Summit for prosthetic chopsticks that attach to your fingers. Below is a sketch of  ”designer” 3D printed titanium human teeth by Martijn Joris i.materialise’s Business Development Manager.

We live in an age whereby our current technology is step by step moving into territory usually occupied by Science Fiction. In order to stimulate conversations and the sharing of ideas about a 3D printed future we need examples of what this future would look like. This is the goal of the Challenge, to engender the creating of an inspiring design that will become a titanium 3D print that kickstarts the discussion on improving humans through 3D printing.

Whats currently happening. A patient specific titanium skull implant made with 3D printing using the Direct Metal Laser Sintering technology by EOS. Several thousand patients worldwide currently have 3D printed titanium implants in their hips, skulls or legs. In addtion a 100,000 people have been helped with patient specific surgical guides that are 3D printed. Also, 10,000,000 people worldwide are currently wearing 3D printed hearing aids.

Design Brief

A design for an implant or prosthetic device meant to improve the human body in some way. We interested in functional implants as well as purely esthetic devices.

The design should be uploaded do the Challenge website by June 6th. In addition to the design we require a rendering and a short explanation of your device.

The design should be uploaded in one of the following 3D file formats STL, OBJ, WRL, 3DS, SKP or IGS and be 3D printable in titanium. You can see the design rules here for 3D printing in titanium.

The final object should not measure more than 4 cubic centimeters volume.

The final object should not have a wall thickness of less than 0.4mm.

The final object should be functional as is. It should not require any additional electronics or non 3D printed parts.

Any submissions to the Design Challenge gallery will be done in a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike (CC BY-SA) license.

Judging Criteria

We will be looking at the most inspiring and most well designed implant or prosthetic device.

It should in some way add function or improve functionality or deliver aesthetic pleasure to the wearer.

It should take advantage of 3D printing technology and be a useable implant should anyone wish to actually implant it.

It should inspire and enable discussion on the implications of 3D printing for the world.


The winner will win a titanium 3D print of their winning design. In addition each judge will receive a 3D print of your device in titanium(cost of each 3D print would be anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars depending on size and shape). Each judge will use your device as an example during speaking engagements and interviews pertaining to the subject. Max Barry will use your 3D printed design during his book tour and the promotion of the Machine Man film. In short, help us dream up the future and we”ll try to make you famous. All the information can be found here.