A conceptual view of ‘FirstBuild,’ the micro-factory that GE will open this summer as a platform for a community of innovators to prototype, iterate, and refine existing GE products – and to express new designs into reality.

GE Building ‘Micro-Factory’ in Louisville

April 16, 2014
Extends R&D program with Local Motors Concentrating development, speeding to market “The future of cooking”

General Electric to build its first “micro-factory” in Louisville, Ky., in collaboration with the University of Louisville and extending its partnership with Local Motors. The installation, to be called FirstBuild, will be a center for prototyping new designs and conducting small-batch manufacturing for new GE Appliance products, all at an accelerated pace.

GE plans for the micro-factory to be open this summer. The cost of the development was not announced.

The micro-factory was first announced in March when GE initiated its partnership with Local Motors, the open-source design and hardware market that provides low-cost tools, small-scale manufacturing capabilities, and marketing strategies for hobbyist as well as OEMs. Together, the new partners plan to pool development efforts and micro-manufacturing capabilities to commercialize new GE products.

The Louisville location will be near to the GE Appliance headquarters and major assembly plant in that city.

“To win in the appliance industry, we have to innovate faster than ever before since we are now competing with companies that apply their rapid electronic products introduction strategy to the appliance industry,” stated Kevin Nolan, GE Appliances’ vice president of technology.

“This new model will enable us to be more creative in the design and delivery of the products,” Nolan continued, “and do so with lower risk and cost while drastically reducing the time from mind to market.” “FirstBuild* will also enable us to move select products to larger-scale production with more confidence because they will have been vetted by the new platform first.”

GE announced that the initial focus of FirstBuild project will be “the future of cooking,” with the global community innovators coordinated by Local Motors refining and prototyping ideas to improve existing GE products, and bring forth new designs.

The new micro-factory will be situated on the University of Louisville Belknap Campus. The location will be accessible to engineering, advanced manufacturing and other student activities, promoting a strong local network of community members.

“Today, America is searching to define its new manufacturing soul,” observed Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers. “Many people assume this industrial reinvigoration will come out of the tech hubs of San Francisco, Boston or New York. Trends such as micro-manufacturing powered by co-creation, however, as well as the industrial Internet are showing us that cities like Louisville can again be leaders in the Third Industrial Revolution.”

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