Have you ever stood in front of your refrigerator, just staring in? Maybe it’s a midnight snack, maybe it’s uncertainty about what to make for dinner, but there’s some holding power in standing in front of the ‘fridge. This large appliance is often regarded as the most important in the kitchen, and for good reason.
Wouldn’t it be great if your refrigerator was more, well, yours? A customized refrigerator — or at least parts of it — is at the heart of the latest challenge put to 3D printing designers. The Icebox Challenge, from MakerBot and FirstBuild, is running through November 23.
Just thinking about the challengers should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of innovation they’ll be expecting when judging this contest. MakerBot is a well-known manufacturer of 3D printers, a subsidiary of Stratasys, and the owner of Thingiverse. FirstBuild, on the other hand, is a collaboration between GE Appliances and Local Motors that seeks to design and build innovative appliances using its microfactory.
MakerBot and FirstBuild represent top names in their fields, and they’re looking for top designs in this challenge. Submissions must be for objects that can be printed using a fifth generation MakerBot Replicator (which has a build volume of 9.9L x 7.8W x 5.9H in) and that are functional inside a refrigerator. From there, the field is open: a design can be completely 3D printed, can be battery-operated, or comprised of whatever sort of construction will serve the design best.
The whole idea, of course, is function. What do you wish your refrigerator could offer that it doesn’t already?
“We see the FirstBuild Thingiverse Icebox Challenge as a way to empower our customers to design accessories for their home appliances that fit their own lifestyle best,” said FirstBuild’s director, Natarajan Venkatakrishnan. “To be able to open up our innovation process to the public and have them tell us what accessories they would like in their refrigerators is pretty exciting.”
It’s not every day that big companies seem to listen to the consumers who use their products, especially when it comes to features that are more convenient than they are functionally necessary. After all, cup holders weren’t available in cars at all until the 1950s and weren’t standard until the mid-’80s, which is almost inconceivable for today’s Starbucks-minded driver. Maybe an invention from this contest will fill a void we didn’t even know refrigerators could fill, but ever after we’ll wonder how we ever lived without them. Could it be yours?
To enter, all you have to do is upload your design to the Challenge page. For the chance to be featured on Thingiverse, upload the design there, too — make sure to use the hashtag #IceboxChallenge!
Designs are due by the end of the day November 23, and winners will be announced December 15. What, you might wonder, will those winners receive? There will be three winners, and all will have their creations featured on Thingiverse and displayed in MakerBot Retail Stores. Additionally,
- The first-place winner will choose between a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer or a MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer.
- The second-place winner will receive a MakerBot Replicator Mini compact 3D printer.
- The third-place winner will receive three spools of MakerBot Filament, a Thingiverse T-shirt, and a FirstBuild T-shirt.
The prizes are impressive, and it’s pretty simple to enter your design… let us know when you’ve submitted your entry! What did you design? Feel free to post in the MakerBot and FirstBuild Icebox Challenge discussion forum.
Check out this video explaining the contest below:
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