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Winners Announced in the ET Foundation 2020 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition

Winners Announced in the ET Foundation 2020 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition

Students Use Aluminum Extrusions to Solve Real-World Problems

Professional Designs Highlight the Versatility of Extrusions

May 20, 2020; Chicago, Illinois – Winning entries in the ET Foundation's 2020 International Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition have been announced on the website at ETFdesign.org. The competition attracted 25 professional entries and nearly 130 student entries from nearly 20 countries around the world.

Professional designers, manufacturers and students were awarded a total of $27,000 in the 2020 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition, which included two classes of competition: Student and Professional. Student scholarship awards totaling $15,500 were sponsored by Bonnell Aluminum. AEC sponsored $6,000 in Professional awards and a Grand Prize of $5,500. Winning designs included a portable isolation unit for hospitals, a convertible bed/cart for refugees, a lightweight bridge decking system, a new generation camping trailer, and more.

The entries were reviewed and evaluated by aluminum extrusion industry professionals, including David Asher, Process Optimization Manager for Bonnell Aluminum in Newnan, GA; Todd Boyer, Director of Sales & Marketing for Mid-States Aluminum in Fond du Lac, WI; and Dr. Joseph Benedyk, Editor of Light Metal Age magazine and aluminum industry veteran.

Students Use Aluminum Extrusions to Solve Real-World Problems
Student winners in the 2020 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition used their own experiences and real-life challenges to inform their design process, using aluminum extrusions to develop innovative products that solve problems.


The Grand Prize of $5,500 was awarded to Filippo Tomasi, of Treviso, Italy studying design at Royal College of Art in London, UK and Paola Zani from Brescia, Italy studying design at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy for their Ippocrate - Portable Isolation Unit for Emergency Situations.

Their design was developed out of a desire to help provide relief for hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, which affected their home country of Italy especially hard. The students will share the $5,500 Grand Prize award.

"As designers, we wanted to help in this situation by making a mobile intensive care unit that can be built and connected in any indoor space within minutes," explained the students in their entry materials. The system can be assembled by one person with no tools and ready in 15 minutes. Each unit is self-contained, becoming a negative pressure room when connected to a HEPA filter to assure that no viruses can escape and infect other patients.

The students referenced the AEC Aluminum Extrusion Manual to inform their profile design, coming up with an extrusion utilizing close tolerances and built-in features allowing for easy, quick assembly and channels for mounting equipment and accessories as needed, such as power sockets, IV drip bags, equipment monitors, and more.

The students further explained, "The close tolerances made possible with the extrusion process are crucial for the joints between one profile and the other. The supporting structure is composed of 26 pieces, and 4 plastic angular joints. In the connections between each section, a steel tube is inserted in the two gaps of the profile and the precision guarantees that they won't collapse." Noting that they chose aluminum alloy 6005A for their design, they explained that using aluminum does not require any further coating to be corrosion resistant or machining to be assembled, making it perfect for building frames.

Aluminum's light weight and the modular design makes the Ippocrate an easily portable and adaptable solution for hospital overflow environments and emergency situations. The units can be scaled up due to the modularity of the design by constructing the rooms side-by-side, removing the divider walls and joining the profiles with a clip.

"In the age of ‘Covid' this is a great concept," said competition judge Todd Boyer. "Of all the Covid-referenced projects [submitted in the competition this year] this seems [to be] the most applicable [and] real."


First Place in the Student Competition, with a $5,000 scholarship, was awarded to Emma Jacobs, Sherwood, OR, who is a biomedical engineering student at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. Explaining her reasoning behind her design, she noted that starting blocks are used by swimmers to dive into the pool for competitive swimming competitions. In 2008, the International Swimming Federation, which governs regulations on aquatic sports, approved a new starting block design that includes a slanted wedge on the back platform for the rear foot. The wedge, also known as a "kick plate," allows for a more powerful start into the water. Jacobs explained that "there are still many older pools that have not updated their starting blocks since 2008. Therefore, they still use the older version of blocks without the kick plate." Further, having been a competitive swimmer in high school, and now in college, Jacobs noted that her high school did not replace the starting blocks after the regulation change in 2008 due in large part to the financial burden. Suspecting a similar experience across the country with other schools, Jacobs decided to design an adjustable pool starting block that could be retrofitted onto an existing platform, saving schools the cost of replacing the entire starting block. "Additionally, buying a combination of new, plain starting blocks with the Quixet kick plate I designed is a more cost-effective alternative than buying blocks with kick plates that are currently available," she explained. Her design allows for easy installation by coaches or teams.

The design consists of two side rails, two inner wedges and an outer wedge, all made of aluminum extrusions. The inner wedge is secured to the outer wedge using a fastener along the bottom, similar to the way a T-nut is used in the 80/20 building system. The two wedges inside the larger wedge can be moved to adjust the width of the entire assembly. The outer wedge has a non-slip surface applied to it.

"This is a real-life solution to a real-life experience," Boyer noted. The judges appreciated the student's excellent project detail and explanation of her design motivation and process.


A team of four students from L'Ecole de design Nantes Atlantique (Studio Montreal) in Montreal, Canada, won Second Place for their HAUL Cargo Bike. Paul Poirier, Bastien Adam, Malo Sahores, and Clément Moinardeau each will share the $4,000 scholarship award. The students collaborated through a partnership with Jalon Montreal, a non-profit organization founded by the City of Montreal that carries out a wide range of activities that support manufacturers of various backgrounds working to expedite innovative processes into practice. Their project focused on helping the City of Montreal to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.

The team developed a cargo bike with modular crates to optimize the work of delivery people "for the last kilometer delivery". The use of extruded aluminum forms the base of the bike and boxes filled with parcels rest on the base. The system allows rapid loading and unloading from small parcels to larger packages.

"The extrusion designs facilitate easy handling of various sized crates and packages," said competition judge Joe Benedyk. "And, by replacing delivery trucks, the design offers a pollution solution."


Jacob DeGroot, a student studying Industrial Design at the University of Wisconsin – Stout in Menomonie, WI, was awarded Third Place, earning him a $3,000 scholarship for his design of The Wissota, a hammock system that efficiently utilizes space for campers who want a new recreational experience using their vehicle. The collapsible hammock rack uses limited parts and simple geometry to offer a design that covers a rapidly expanding market, according to the student. The design is versatile in that it can also be used to transport large items and expand vertical space in a truck bed.

"This is a creative and well-thought-out camping assembly (collapsible) for use by campers with pick-up trucks," commented competition judge Joe Benedyk.

"This looks interesting and creative and has the basis of a product," said competition judge David Asher.


Sustainable Design - $3,500 Scholarship
Cart/Bed for Refugees

Hernandez Zavarce, Dawson College
Montreal, QC Canada

Alejandrina Hernandez Zavarce, a student studying Industrial Design at Dawson College in Montreal, Quebec, won the Sustainable Design Award with a $3,500 scholarship prize for her Cart/Bed for Refugees.

Ms. Zavarce used her and her family's experience as they fled their home in Venezuela in 2015 to inform her design. She shared her story with Dawson College's news editor, who posted it on their website. "Near the Venezuelan/Colombian border I watched many people walking on the highway trying to cross the border into Colombia, looking for a better future for their family," the student recalled.

"It was shocking to see each member of the family, including children and old people, carrying their belongings, then resting and sleeping on any surface," she said. "Most of them seemed tired, sad, and confused, but determined to leave their country."

Ms. Zavarce kept a record of her observations with the hope of coming up with some solutions, which came during her fall 2019 semester at Dawson College. Teacher Michael Santella used the ET Foundation Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition as a teaching tool in his Product Usage and Demographics class, and the class submitted several entries in the competition.

Ms. Savarce's multifunctional design provides a way to carry one's belongings and then converts into a bed. "In the market there are products to carry belongings, such as backpacks, wheeled luggage and carry-ons, which are not very comfortable for long distances and do not fulfill the role of a bed," noted the student. Her cart/bed for refugees fulfills both tasks. The design uses one simple extruded tube profile for the support structure and the handle, making it a cost-effective solution.

She described her design process: "I applied three main principles: a social solution to partially reduce the suffering of refugees, the use of eco-friendly, recyclable materials, and economical principles in design and manufacturing, using a low-cost aluminum extrusion process, reducing the number of parts and facilitating the maintenance, repair, and durability of the product."

The judges found Ms. Savarce's design to be innovative, practical and creative satisfying an international need.


Professional Winning Entries Showcase Extruded Aluminum's Advantages

Nearly 30 entries from professional designers and manufacturers from around the world were received in the Profession Design Competition. Three prizes were awarded in two categories, Structural and Transportation, with two winners being recognized in the Transportation Category.

First place in the Structural Category, earning a $2,000 prize in the Professional Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition, was awarded to Alexandre de la Chevrotière of MAADI Group, Inc. in Montreal, Québec, Canada, for an all-extruded aluminum bridge deck. The GuarDECK system maximizes functionality and minimizes environmental impacts with a pedestrian walkway that is built onto a new or existing bridge, providing safe access for pedestrians and bicyclists and reducing traffic congestion, according to the designer.

GuarDECK uses Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) principles with weld-free and off-the-shelf components, which can be shipped in bundles on short notice. GuarDECK "attaches to steel main girders without any need for drilling or welding on site thanks to extrusions," noted Chevrotière.

The bridge components are made of "marine grade", 6000-series extruded aluminum and the system is prefabricated and shipped to install with standard manual tools. Nine different extrusions are used with integrated LED lights incorporated in the clear anodized guardrail, adding beauty to the patented system. A team can install the weld-free aluminum deck and open the bridge to traffic later that same day, fitting well in most environments and situations where durability and rapid installation are top priority. The GuarDECK system is ideal for numerous uses, including pedestrian, 15-ton vehicle, temporary, military, and industrial applications. The bridge deck can also extend a roadway bridge for use as a cantilevered bike path.

De la Chevrotière notes that "aluminum bridge decks are 70-80 percent lighter than concrete and most metal, which makes it easier to handle and install. This lightweight, versatile material reduces dead load and offers increased bridge width and capacity without the need to strengthen supporting bridge elements. This is especially important for load-restricted bridges, historic bridges, moveable bridges and bridges with narrow roadways requiring expansions for bicycle paths or walkways."

"This is a creative and practical use of extrusions," said competition judge Todd Boyer. "A lot of bridge rebuilds are needed, especially in this country. This product would be a quick, easy and durable solution to pedestrian and light vehicle bridge replacements or retrofits."


Building on their success with the GO camper/trailer, a Grand Prize winner in the 2008 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition, Industrial Designer Ryan Bush and the team at Sylvan Sport developed the VAST RV camping trailer with extensive use of aluminum extrusions, earning the company a $2,000 prize in the Transportation Category. An innovative all-seasons kitchen, a first for the RV industry according to the company, allows the camper to enjoy cooking meals indoors or outdoors with their patented easy slide technology. The side-mounted rack system features extruded aluminum built-in rails that turn the entire side of the R/V into storage for kayaks, canoes or paddleboards. Protected storage for propane tanks, batteries and a spare tire is mounted in a front pod that slides forward on extruded aluminum rails.

The entire back opens for easy loading of gear and for weather protection. The inside is equipped with residential queen-sized beds. One bed drops down from the ceiling using a motorized lift system. The second converts from the lounge's premium cushions for easy set-up.

"The VAST is made up of composite panels, which are completely aligned and held together using aluminum extrusions," noted Bush. "The aluminum extrusions allow us to keep the total weight under 3,500 lbs. while maximizing strength for durability and road safety." He elaborated, "The extrusions play a major role in the exterior styling, but they also function as practical wire chases and waterproofing mechanisms. We also make use of aluminum extrusions for tracks, which our lounge slides along, lighting systems, and exterior tracks for kayak racks."

A 15-foot-long, 8-inch-tall extrusion clamps down on the roof panel and locks tightly into a vertical extrusion to keep the box aligned. The outer shell is constructed using a custom composite skin, laminated to an insulated wall structure, which in turn are joined to the proprietary extruded aluminum frame. The corners are double-capped for maximum waterproof protection.


The judges appreciated the creative and multifunctional uses for the extruded profiles in the design, which shows off the versatility of aluminum extrusions. "The VAST uses materials which will last for decades, minimizing the environmental impact that typical, semi-disposable RVs create," noted Bush.

A second Transportation Prize was awarded to Marc Senger, an Industrial Design professional, located in Weymouth, MA, who designed the "GRIDFLEX Light Utility Truck" and extruded aluminum universal mounting system for light utility vehicles, which earned him a $2,000 prize. The mounting system is designed to "enhance contractors' abilities to adapt their vehicle to a multiplicity of functional needs," Senger noted explaining his entry. "Extrusions allow high-strength yet lightweight features, which accept ‘task modules', which may be repositioned anywhere along the extrusion. This allows ultimate flexibility when outfitting and using the vehicle."

His GRIDFLEX Versatile Light Utility Vehicle utilizes the grid system, which includes a variety of features suited for the diversity of applications needed by contractors, including a slide-out workbench, convertible cargo roof, a two-stage cargo floor for easier loading/unloading, a low-profile extruded sliding chassis that houses the electric drivetrain and batteries, and an electrically powered grid to power the accessories anywhere along the entire system.

The judges appreciated Senger's creativity and imagination in designing this vehicle and grid system; however, it may be impractical in today's automotive design environment. Still, his design pushes the envelope for how vehicles are designed.


For more information on the winning entries and for announcements on future competitions, visit ETFdesign.org. The ET Foundation and the Aluminum Extruders Council congratulate the winners and thank all of the professional and student designers who submitted entries, with special thanks to the students' faculty advisors for advancing aluminum extrusion education by supporting the Competition through the classroom.

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