AMS Spring 2023

GE and Stratasys to Crowdsource and 3D Print Your Innovations at FirstBuild Microfactory

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And the whole world comes together at FirstBuild to make your next dreamy kitchen gadget…with Stratasys 3D printers and crowdsourced brainpower. That’s right—technology giants GE and Stratasys are getting in on the fun with a partnership just announced between Stratasys and GE affiliate, FirstBuild. FirstBuild is combining micro-manufacturing with 3D printing to design the next generation of GE home appliances and accessories.

Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 3D printer at FirstBuild microfactory in Louisville, KY.

Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 3D printer at FirstBuild microfactory in Louisville, KY.

GE Appliances, a subsidiary of General Electric Company, collaborating with Local Motors, established FirstBuild, a physical and online community which operates a low-volume factory, also known as a microfactory. The progressive concept certainly sounds like a game changer for the industrial world as we know it. The concept is that individuals come up with their own ideas—say perhaps for a new garbage disposal with stunning new features—and the plan is crowdsourced out to a talented group of individuals who know how to bring the product to fruition, using Stratasys 3D printing technology.  They combine this with FirstBuild manufacturing, retailing, and shipping the products out. The partnership with Stratasys allows Firstbuild to have incredibly advanced 3D printing machines to manufacture and take new items straight to market.

“Incorporating Stratasys’ leading additive manufacturing technology into our micro-factory capabilities provides an enormous benefit in both product development and production by saving us time, money and resources,” said Natarajan “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan, Director of Advanced Technologies for GE Appliances. “It will also give the University of Louisville engineering students and others who work on this equipment at FirstBuild a significant advantage as they pursue jobs in technical fields.”

FirstBuild_Building-Shot

FirstBuild Microfactory, Louisville, KY

They may only make 30-40 products at any one time, which would be sent out from the FirstBuild microfactory in Louisville, Kentucky. The microfactory houses the project’s 3D printers, along with woodworking tools, welding tools, etc. Products produced at the microfactory will be sold online at FirstBuild.com, onsite at the FirstBuild retail store at the microfactory, and also through traditional retail channels.

“The prospects of tapping into the hardware innovation scene are very promising,” said Gilad Gans, Stratasys President of North America. “This is an outstanding opportunity to help revolutionize the way things are made. This is an open-innovation environment where FirstBuild users will be able to use our cutting-edge technology to accelerate product development phases and create real products.”

What’s wonderful about this partnership, is the creativity and inspiration of scientists, designers, and “regular people” with great ideas breathing new life into companies that have been with us our whole lives doing the same old thing for decades, it would seem. FirstBuild and Stratasys are opening a whole new world to creative individuals interested in engineering their own designs and then handing them to crowdsourcing communities who can take products to the finish line.

Do you have an idea ready and waiting for the FirstBuild microfactory? Tell us about it in the FirstBuild forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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