Dec 3, 2015 | By Tess

As we well know, innovation does not only come from big corporations and companies, and when it does there are still some individual minds and collaborations responsible for the ideas. That being said, sometimes it takes a challenge put out by a large company to instigate and provoke innovative minds and makers to create great things. This is the fundamental concept behind GE’s FirstBuild challenge, which calls on the maker community to think of and create new home appliances, or to reimage existing ones.

Recently, GE’s FirstBuild initiative challenged the maker community to create a simple way to roast fresh coffee beans at home using a home oven. The challenge was organized in collaboration with Autodesk, one of the leading companies in 3D design and software, and Sweet Maria’s, a coffee bean and roasting company, and in the end three of the best designs were chosen from over 30 entries. All the entries were developed using Autodesk Fusion 360, which combines design, collaboration and fabrication in its product development.

Mike Geyer, Autodesk director of Evangelism and Emerging Technology says, “Autodesk Fusion 360 was created for exactly the type of design disruption that this challenge celebrates. It’s a tool that’s well-suited to the new ways of making products – empowering every stage of the design process from concept to fabrication.”

City Roaster

First prize was awarded to 29-year-old Stephane Arthur Kiss’ project City Roaster. Kiss, a mechanical engineer from Ottawa, Canada, set out to create a coffee roasting system for convection ovens that was both functional and stylish. Influenced by art deco aesthetics, the City Roaster is indeed a design that would be happily displayed on a kitchen counter. In designing the City Roaster, Kiss worked with Autodesk Fusion 360’s interconnected CAD and CAM features to make sure he was optimizing his designs and avoiding complex operation times.

Second prize was given to Cool Beans Coffee Bean Roaster which was developed by Hunter Stephenson and Steven Morse, aged 21 and 22 respectively, who both work as engineers in Louisville for GE Appliances. The Cool Beans Coffee Roaster functions through what the makers call a “suit-case” concept, which allows for even roasting in a convection oven, and a quick cooling process thanks to a rotisserie style structure that tumbles the freshly roasted beans. The design was reached after many prototypes, as the designers explain, “Our design process hinged on a true rapid-prototyping approach where our team collaborated on innovative design, created a functional model, put it to the test, and repeated.”

Cool Beans Coffee Bean Roaster

Float + VacuBean, the design created by Chia-Chen Lee, 32, of Rochester, NY, was given third prize. Lee, an industrial designer, was inspired by her own experience in drum roasting coffee beans and had as her goal the even roasting of coffee beans. The final design utilizes magnetic propulsion and the air from the convection oven fan to keep the drum spinning and the beans roasting evenly.

Float Coffee Roaster

The top three entries were awarded with more than $15,000 worth of prizes, which included a 3D printer, desktop CNC mills, Fusion 360 software, and plenty of green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s.

“The coffee roasting challenge illustrates the power of the maker community,” says Venkat Venkatakrishnan, FirstBuild’s Director. “It also shows how FirstBuild has created a physical and online community of makers who innovate, motivate and build on each other’s ideas to create the kinds of products that consumers want.”

The choice to create and design coffee roasters is rather timely, as home coffee roasting is becoming more and more popular amongst coffee lovers and enthusiasts. Based off of this growing interest amongst consumers, GE’s FirstBuild hopes to have the home coffee roasters commercialized within the coming months to allow anyone to enjoy freshly roasted coffee beans from their own convection oven.

 

 

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