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Techfortrade, launched in 2011 with a mission to alleviate poverty through the use of developing technologies. Early in their research, they considered the role that technology would play in helping small rural producers to access markets for their produce. The 3d4d Challenge was born from this concept and aims to find transformational uses for 3D printing technologies that deliver real social benefit in the developing world.

Last week the 7 finalists were announced where each contestants will then be invited to give a presentation of their projects to selected guests at the 3D print show on the 19th october.

The finalists include:

Re-Char WOOF (Washington Open Object Fabricators), Bethany Weeks and Luke Iseman, USA
An off-grid 3D printing system, which recycles plastic bags to produce tools for local farmers.

*Boris Kogan, Israel/US *
A small scale, easy-to-manufacture and assemble robotic greenhouse which will enable local communities to produce good food with ease, even in the most difficult environmental conditions.

Climate Connected Benefit Society, ColaLights, Edmund Bell-King and Cornell Jackson, UK
Solar lamps created from used plastic Coke bottles using 3D printed ‘bottle caps’ and attachments for the charger, battery and PCB components. These lights will replace expensive and dangerous kerosene ones to use in rural areas throughout India.

Fripp Design and Research, Tom Fripp and Steve Roberts, UK
The use of 3D printing technology to enable the developing world to rapidly manufacture soft tissue prosthesis, at minimal expense.

The EN3D Project, JF Brandon, Canada
A simple, 3D printed solar tracker that is more efficient, cheaper and easier to manufacture than existing models, which will provide sustainable solar electricity to local communities.

Roy Ombatti, Kenya
Specially designed 3D printed shoes produced from recycled plastic to be worn by individuals suffering from foot deformities due to the growing problem of jigger fly infestation – in order to prevent further deterioration.

Just 3D Printing, Suchismita and Jayant Pai, India
Providing young entrepreneurs and students access to 3D printers using material recycled from disused plastic bottles, in order to encourage innovation.

You can read more about the finalists here. Each finalist will make a short video pitch which will be available to view at the show and to the general public to vote on.

This competition is another reminder of the advances of additive technology and how computers and the internet have become a conduit for tapping into more widespread skills & innovation. The technology has already found applications in a range of industrial sectors and medical applications but techfortrade have opened up an opportunity for innovation not just from the professional sector but also from the local community fuelled by the surge of home based 3d printer users.

Applying 3d printing to the developing world is a new an exciting prospect. In an area of the world where internet based retail is still in it’s infancy, connectivity however is growing fast. Infrastructure to support this growth is also hugely undeveloped. By 2015, it is estimated that 400 million mobile phone users in Africa alone will not have electricity regularly supplied by a power grid! Asking the question how can 3d printing impact the developing world has opened up a wealth of ideas to improve the incomes and livelihoods of people in developing countries.

We look forward to seeing the pitches in October!

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