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The Business of Making Things: FirstBuild™ Microfactory Opens in Louisville, Ky.
|By Business Wire
|July 24, 2014 10:01 AM EDT
(NYSE:GE) — From the color of appliances to personalized
features, consumers want the ability to customize the everyday products
they use to suit their individual lifestyle needs. Through the
FirstBuild™ Microfactory*, which officially opened today in Louisville,
Ky., the online and local community members can design products and help
solve engineering challenges that will fast-track community-driven
innovation to market.
The FirstBuild lab features an electronics prototyping center, laser cutter, hardware components and the latest tools and technology. (Photo: GE)
Until now, customization and speed to market presented challenges for
mass appliance manufacturers like GE Appliances, the parent company of
FirstBuild. Today’s opening of the FirstBuild Microfactory will not only
enable customization through small-batch production, but will help get
these products to market faster than ever before without the cost and
risk of traditional mass manufacturing.
“Partnering with a global co-creation community and using
micromanufacturing to develop new products are unprecedented in the
appliance industry. There certainly isn’t a ‘how-to’ guide for us to
follow,” said Kevin Nolan, GE Appliances’ Vice President of Technology.
“Shifting to a market and community-driven innovation strategy will help
determine which products we reserve for customization and which are
appropriate to transfer to our larger-scale production facilities.”
At the FirstBuild Microfactory grand opening event in Louisville on July
24, community-driven innovation became a reality and new products were
unveiled that will soon go into production and will be sold on FirstBuild.com.
In the coming months, consumers can buy the following products that were
either developed by the FirstBuild online community and/or made by hand
in the FirstBuild Microfactory.
Pitcher: FirstBuild’s refrigerator will store a water
dispenser inside the fresh food compartment. When the pitcher
sits underneath the level-sensing dispenser—voila!—cold, fresh water
fills the pitcher and stops automatically. FirstBuild’s first version
of the product will include the smart-fill feature, with a planned
upgrade to include water filtration this fall.
Space-Saving, No-Stall Disposer:
This low-profile disposer design creates 4 inches of additional space
under the sink, helps eliminate the accidental grinding of foreign
objects and uses a brushless motor and smart sensors to sense a
potential motor stall. The disposer is designed for easy consumer
installation—it snaps in and twists into place.
Easy-Slide Oven Door: A dual oven with an ergonomically
designed door makes it easy to retrieve dishes without reaching into
the oven’s cavity. The top oven features a door that pulls out just
like any other drawer in your kitchen. The easy-slide oven door also
includes a “peek” feature, allowing cooks to visually monitor progress
without disrupting the cooking process.
LineCook: LineCook is inspired by the desire to eliminate the
variability that produces over- and under-cooked food. The idea gained
traction through a project introduced by a member of Louisville’s most
popular hackerspace, LVL1. “LineCook,” an oven that scans the barcode
of prepared foods and automatically sets the cooking method, time and
temperature, has become FirstBuild’s first community-led project, with
commercial availability pending.
The opening of the FirstBuild Microfactory follows a recent announcement
that GE partnered with Local Motors, the open-source hardware innovator,
to launch a new model for the manufacturing industry, which pairs
co-creation and micromanufacturing with a focus on speeding the time
from mind to market. The partnership leverages advanced manufacturing
processes and an open innovation approach to engineering—delivering
benefits for consumers and enterprise alike.
Most recently, MakerBot and TechShop have partnered with FirstBuild.
These alliances, and others to come, will forever change the way
companies design, make and sell products. To learn more about how these
companies plan to work together visit: http://pressroom.geappliances.com/news/makerbot-and-techshop-join-ges-collaborative-innovation-strategy.
FirstBuild.com community members will submit ideas, vote on which
concepts become challenges or projects, and determine which products
move on to production. Prizes and sales royalties will be awarded to
community members who make significant contributions. To learn more,
sign up at FirstBuild.com.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or check out our website for more
Friend GE Appliances on Facebook to view how-to
videos, learn about new GE appliances and join in the discussion with
other GE appliance owners. Join today and follow @GE_Appliances on
Twitter or just locate detailed information about our products at www.geappliances.com.
GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best
people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges.
Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and
finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just
imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's
website at www.ge.com.
About GE Appliances
GE Appliances is at the forefront of
building innovative, energy-efficient appliances that improve people’s
lives. GE Appliances’ products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking
products, dishwashers, washers, dryers, air conditioners, water
filtration systems and water heaters. General Electric works on things
that matter to build a world that works better. For more information on
GE Appliances, visit www.ge.com/appliances.
*Microfactory, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of
GE, and FirstBuild is a registered trademark of Microfactory, Inc.
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20140724005786/en/
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