GE (NYSE:GE) today announced a partnership with Local Motors, the open-source hardware innovator, to launch a new model for the manufacturing industry. The partnership will pair co-creation and micromanufacturing to build and commercialize the next evolution of various GE products. Focused on speeding the time from mind to market, the partnership will leverage advanced manufacturing processes and an open innovation approach to engineering—delivering benefits for consumers and enterprise alike. The partnership will source collaborative ideas online from a community of engineers, scientists, fabricators, designers and enthusiasts who will focus on identifying market needs and solving deep engineering challenges to unlock breakthrough product innovations. As part of the partnership, a new microfactory – a specialized facility focused on prototyping and producing a small batch of products at a rapid pace – will be established where community ideas will be built, tested and sold. GE Executive Director of Global Innovation Steve Liguori said, “At GE over the past years, we’ve redefined our approach to innovation, focusing on R&D as well as co-creation, open collaboration and partnership, which has allowed us to engage new audiences and develop a following across various industry sectors. Today, a new era of manufacturing is dawning—and with Local Motors, we are pioneering the future of work, fast tracking a new model for the manufacturing industry, and improving and expanding GE’s product offering to better meet future customer needs.” The open platform, FirstBuild, will officially launch in the summer of 2014 and will be the home for a global community of innovators to prototype, iterate and refine existing GE products, as well as surface new designs. The most popular innovations may then be selected for testing, rapid prototyping and small volume production at the microfactory, which will be open to the public. Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers said, “GE has demonstrated impressive leadership in its commitment to advanced manufacturing, lean business principles and the power of the crowd. These three ingredients are critical for building on a rich tradition of innovation. Together, Local Motors and GE will provide a powerful platform to discover innovators and, in turn, make revolutionary new products available to consumers. Rapid iteration, rapid development and rapid manufacturing that will make an enduring impression on the world’s manufacturing history.”
The first set of projects will focus on GE Appliances and the future of cooking, inviting community members to submit and discuss ideas to improve the performance of select major kitchen appliances. The first product is expected to be available to U.S. consumers by late 2014. Looking to the future, GE will evaluate applications of this business model across the company’s other business units. For more information, please visit www.firstbuild.com.About GE 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. About Local Motors Local Motors has pioneered the online design and hardware co-creation market by making available low-cost professional tools, efficient small-scale manufacturing capabilities and go-to-market strategies that empower hobbyist innovators and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) alike. For more information about Local Motors, visit www.localmotors.com.