This year’s entries were as strong as we’ve ever seen, with over 1,500 projects from across the globe. In the eyes of our esteemed judges, the projects you'll find below were the best of the best. There were only 13 winners anointed in the entire competition. Each of them represent what's best about design today: Big ideas, meticulously thought out details, and a clear viewpoint about how we live now—and how it could be better.
There's more: On top of those 12 honorees, you can find equally inspiring work, in the finalists for each of the 13 categories, which are linked below.
This year, Fast Company gave 3D Printing it's own category in the Innovation By Design Awards, to recognize all the ferment in the industry. The finalists and winner below all use 3D printing to rethink major categories, from the way our buildings are constructed to the way movies are made.
Judges: Bre Pettis, Bradford Shellhammer, Andrew Dent
These bricks combine 3-D printing and ceramics, and because they don’t require a mold, can easily be built into unique patterns. The resulting bricks can be far more complex than the usual rectangles we build with — x-shaped bricks, for example, or interlocking honeycomb segments — opening the door to new innovation in architecture and design.
An animated short film that follows a ukelele-playing girl chased through a dark forest by the monster that emerges from her own shadow. Every frame of the film was separately printed by a FormLabs Form1+ 3-D printer, making it the world's first 3-D printed film. All in all, the short required 2,500 different figures to animated, which in turn took over 6,000 hours to print: a stunning amount of care for a short film that only lasts a few minutes.
The lab’s Puzzle Chair uses small 3-D printed parts to build affordable, time efficient furniture. This isn't just 3-D printed flat pack furniture, though. Each chair is designed to be printed out and then constructed out of an array of jigsaw-like bricks. And the design is surprisingly stylish: for around $30 bucks worth of material, you can download the plans and construct a chair that looks every good as a Verner Panton classic.
Most 3-D printers are expensive and have a steep learning curve. The MOD-T was designed to be different. It uses a 2-axis motion system to print out objects, which also helps keep the MOD-T easy to use, reliable, and affordable. It's a system aimed at beginners, from the low sticker price (just $399) to MOD-t's user-friendly suite of apps, which includes a curated 3-D marketplace.
3-D printers have mastered the art of reproducing cheap plastic trinkets, but the day when you can 3-D print an iPhone at home is still far off. The Voxel8 is bringing it one step closer, though, by allowing you to seamlessly embed electronics into a 3-D printed object, printing out 'wires' of conductive ink and then seamlessly embedding them in a larger plastic chassis, all as part of the printing process. Voxel8's ultimate goal is to enable the mass customization of electronic devices, but even right now, the technology can be used to print out your own quadricopter at home.
Hemiplegia is a total or partial paralysis of one side of the body that makes it impossible for patients to walk, because their feet can't stay in a natural, 90-degree position. Orthotics help, but they are invasive, difficult to wear, and can not be custom fitted; the patient adapts to the orthotics, not vice versa. Windform is a system for 3-D printing customized orthotics to help the mobility of hemiplegic patients, allowing them to walk again.