Students to Turn Robots into Blacksmiths in New Manufacturing Competition

Posted: July 20, 2016

COLUMBUS – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, and the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence at The Ohio State University, today announced a new competition for students from around the country merging the ancient skills of the blacksmith with the digital age of robotics to create new material forming capabilities called “Robotic Blacksmithing.”

LIFT robotic blacksmithing
Launching this fall, and running through the 2016-17 school year, the LIFT Prize inRobotic Blacksmithing introduces digital, or robotic, blacksmithing technology to students and challenges them to make arbitrary, numerically-described objects by re-shaping materials through plastic deformation and incremental forming processes.

For this competition, using robotics, students will be asked to form three useful items such as a horseshoe, goblet, and an ultralight-weight truss out of materials of increasing difficulty and importance. The first and simplest competition will use clay as the competition material. Later phases will use soft and hardened metals for respective focus materials.

Through this competition, LIFT is working to usher in robotic blacksmithing as the next wave of manufacturing technology, following on the heels of the first two revolutions in digital manufacturing we’ve seen change our world: Computer Numeric Control, in which cutting tools precisely remove metal to form complex shapes; and additive manufacturing and 3-D printers, which add successive volumes of material by computer control to create complicated solid components.

“This competition will bring these students to the cutting edge of manufacturing

Glenn Daehn, LIFT robotic blacksmith competition technical leader
technology and prepare the industry for the next big change in technology,” said Glenn Daehn, the competition’s technical director. “By engaging students through competition, we are encouraging them to develop the skills they need to become the innovators and leaders the manufacturing industry needs to thrive in the future.”

“The manufacturing industry is changing rapidly, and we need to ensure the workforce of the future has the skills and is confident in using new lightweighting technologies and processes,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, director of education and workforce development at LIFT. “This competition will put the latest technology in the hands of students to both provide them the skills they need and encourage them to consider manufacturing as a career in the future.”

Because robotic blacksmithing is a new manufacturing process without specific defined system requirements, the competition is “open” meaning only the materials used and desired output is defined, not the process used to achieve it, fostering important innovation.

Student teams can begin registering for the competition in August 2016 and work through March 2017. The competition is open to students from high school, community college, career and technical colleges, and colleges and universities. Judging, by industry experts, teachers and other leaders, will be done in April 2017, with winning teams announced by the end April.

For more information, please visit Complete official rules for the competition will be posted this fall.

To help support the competition and invest in the future of manufacturing, LIFT encourages local manufacturers to both sponsor and mentor teams in their communities.

“So many of the communities in the LIFT region of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee rely on local manufacturers as the backbone of their economies,” DeRocco said. “To continue these synergies, we are encouraging those companies to help invest in the future by supporting competition teams in their schools.”


ABOUT LIFT LIFT is a Detroit-based, public-private partnership committed to the development and deployment of advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT is one of the founding institutes in the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), and is funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit to learn more.

ABOUT THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY The Ohio State University’s main campus is America’s largest and most comprehensive, with more than 53,000 students, 17 colleges and 240 masters’, doctoral and professional degree programs and an annual operating budget of more than $4 billion. Ohio State’s depth and excellence is complemented by a top-five academic medical center and a premier cancer center. Ohio State consistently ranks as one of the nation’s top research institutions, with $703 million in spending last year in areas that are critical to Ohio’s ability to compete locally, nationally, and internationally. The university ranks second nationally in the amount of industry sponsored research it conducts. Ohio State has particular strength in areas such as global warming, cancer, infectious disease, advanced materials, and agbio products that feed and fuel the world.