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Plastics innovation contests, scholarship program offer pack a passel of prizes

Two contests in progress in the plastics industry offer awards and more to the lucky winners. We've already reported on one of the award programs but have an update to add, and now a new one has been announced to help support industrial designers' ideas move from art to part. Plus, a scholarship program from DME is accepting applications from both students and professionals.

The update is on the Extrusioneers Innovation Contest sponsored by extrusion systems supplier Reifenhäuser. We reported on this contest last week, and in the interim almost 100 people have exchanged ideas at the contest website and 40 have submitted ideas for the contest. The inaugural Extrusioneers Innovation Contest, held under the motto "Thinking outside the box," is looking for the best ideas in terms of products, processes and machines on the subject of plastics extrusion.

The contest is open to the world but almost all of the current contestants are from Germany-so take your shot via the contest website. Money and prizes worth €20,000 are waiting to be awarded.

The new contest is organized courtesy of "rapid" injection molder Proto Labs. Called the Cool Idea! Award, it's a new program designed to give product designers, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators the opportunity to bring innovative products to life.  Proto Labs will divide $100,000 total in prototyping and short-run production services to award recipients. 

Unlike other awards that recognize products or innovative designs after the product has already been created, the Cool Idea! program will help designers take their product idea or part from a 3D CAD model to its first-run production stage.

"We're extremely excited to launch the Cool Idea! award because we know there's a single Cool Idea at the foundation of every innovation that changes our lives for the better," said Brad Cleveland, CEO of Proto Labs. "In fact, the success of our company is due to a cool idea that made quick-turn injection molded prototypes a reality. We're eager to propel the cycle forward by supporting the next generation of innovators who may otherwise lack the resources to get their ideas to market."

In order to be eligible for consideration, Cool Idea! applicants must clearly demonstrate the benefits of their product to the end-user and why they believe it qualifies as a 'cool idea.'
"We're in the business of ideas," said Proto Labs founder and CTO Larry Lukis. "Our single focus is to provide product designers with the easiest, fastest and least-expensive way to obtain low volumes of parts based on their 3D CAD design. The Cool Idea! award takes our mission one step further by showing our support for innovative thinking and enabling designers to bring their cool ideas to life."
Meanwhile, mold base and mold equipment / parts supplier DME is helping address the issue of a shortage of skilled workers in the plastics industry and mold manufacturing trade with its DME Plastics University Scholarship Program, for which it is now accepting applications.

The program is designed to support the plastics industry by ensuring the availability of a highly skilled, well-trained workforce. The Program's two components - a Student Scholarship and a Continuing Education Support Scholarship - provide funds to support students in plastics-related careers as well as to advance the skills of DME customers working in moldmaking and plastics.

DME will contribute $20,000 toward the DME Company Student Scholarship Program and DME Company Continuing Education, awarded in $1000 increments. Winners will be selected by the DME Education Team and will be notified by mail.

Applicants for a DME Student Scholarship must be enrolled in a plastics program at any accredited trade school/university offering a 2-year certificate, 2-year associates or 4-year bachelor's degree. Those enrolled in related coursework will be considered if they demonstrate a strong academic emphasis and interest in plastics.

Scholarship applications (available at must be received by July 30 for students and July 15 for professionals for consideration of monetary awards for the 2011 fall semester.

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