It has been a good week for philanthropy in the world of 3D printing.  First, there was news of the Robohand out of South Africa, a not-for-profit effort to get cheap, printed prosthetics to people in need.  Then there was Siemens' training program for vets.  Now, Michigan Technological University has announced its 3D Printers For Peace contest.  In light of the recent media blitz surrounding 3D printed firearms, this design competition intends to showcase additive manufacturing as a force for good.

"We want to encourage people to think about ways 3D printing can be used for the benefit of humanity," said the contest organizer, Associate Professor Joshua Pearce.  "3D printers have been getting a lot of bad press because people are using them to make guns, which is unfortunate, because many designers are making wonderful things."

All submissions to the contest have to be designs that offer a solution to global problems that may cause conflict.  To give candidates an idea of how to think, the website states, "ask yourself what Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, or Ghandi would make if they'd had access to 3D printing."

Examples of appropriate entries provided by MTU include low-cost medical devices, tools that deal with the problem of poverty, designs that will help take advantage of renewable energy sources and tools that boost economic development in the third world.

All designs must be open source and printed on a RepRap-style printer in plastic filament.  Beyond that, submissions will be judged based on innovation, feasibility, presentation and overall effectiveness in a push toward peace.

The winner will receive a fully assembled Type A Machines Series 1 3D Printer. Runner-up receives a RepRap Prusa Mendel 3D Printer Kit.

To enter, upload your design to Thingiverse prior to September 1 with the tag "Peace Contest." The winner will be announced September 4.

For more info, visit the 3D Printers For Peace contest site.