gad3When I was in high school, I held on to my tennis trophies, spelling bee plaques, and academic achievement certificates by ceremoniously stuffing them all into a bedroom bookshelf — allowing them to get dusty and wrinkled.  Let’s face it, many awards aren’t really much to look at although they are designed to recognize outstanding achievements.  In the corporate world, it’s not much different, as plaques and certificates still dominate.  Even the Hollywood Academy’s award — the infamous Oscar — seems boring and impersonal these days.  While 3D printing has changed the way we look at many everyday devices and objects, it is also reinventing design in a much needed category — the award.

For outstanding achievement in a 3D printed and personalized award, the winner is MakerBot!

Thursday night, November 27th, the gadget review website Pocket-lint honored 14 recipients with 3D printed and personalized awards at its 11th O2 Pocket-lint Gadget Awards.  While the awards categories vary — including best game, smartphone, tablet, camera, laptop, home entertainment device, headphones, television, and home entertainment device — each winner received the same impressively designed award.  Lucky, and sometimes repeat, winners of these significant (this is the first time MakerBot has made awards for another company) awards include Apple, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, and Philips. The awards are certainly as high-quality  as the very gadgets they seek to honor!

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Modeled on the Pocket-lint logo, each award had a 9.5 cm base with a stand, reaching a total height of 15.5 cm.   Allowing for the much appreciated touch of personalization, the awards feature a sectional variation where the winners can have their names slotted. Now that is a far cry from the impersonal pre-engraved trophies that so many of us have acquired in the past!

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The team used two 3D printers to create the awards, due to the need for a combination of colors. MakerBot used its Replicator 2, which can print two colors, to create the Pocket-lint’s logo portion of the awards, and the other pieces were made via the 5th generation MakerBot Replicator because of its speed and high resolution capabilities.

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The MakerBot team reports that it faced its own challenges during this process. One design challenge was the need to create an award model from scratch, so MakerBot turned to SolidWorks for reliable CAD modeling support.  But, the MakerBot team reports it faced an even greater challenge during the printing of the awards.  A power cut hit their Brooklyn building — threatening operations toward the end of their printing. However, from the look of the 3D printed end results, and the successful reception the award design has received, it looks as if Pocket-lint made a great choice — possibly setting a new tech industry standard — for their 3D designed awards.

We can only wonder if next year’s Pocket-lint Gadget Awards will use another  3D design, or even the exact same design, eventually rendering this a new iconic industry award — much like the Oscar.  In the meantime, I hope those companies are busy personalizing their awards, since they have that option, and dusting off a new space on a display shelf for all to see how a 3D designed award can break the mold of those old awkward trophies, boring plaques, and wrinkled achievement certificates. What do you think about 3D printed awards? Will this set a new standard? Let us know your thoughts at the Pocket-lint Awards forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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