Oct 27, 2016 | By Benedict

GE and Local Motors have announced Fuse, a new business model for manufacturing that combines open innovation with small batch manufacturing techniques like 3D printing. Fuse operations will take place in new micro-factories, the first of which will open in Chicago this December.

GE’s proposed takeover of SLM Solution and Arcam may be falling through, but the giant US company isn’t giving up on 3D printing just yet. GE has announced Fuse, a new prototyping and production business model developed in collaboration with Local Motors, the Arizona automotive innovators responsible more some of the world’s most advanced 3D printed vehicles. According to GE, Fuse will invite customers, entrepreneurs, student groups, and other manufacturing figures to work with GE teams at various micro-factories across the country.

The highly collaborative Fuse program will take place both at these micro-factories and online, where the Fuse digital platform will invite entrepreneurs, scientists, coders, engineers, and makers from around the world to solve product development challenges, from non-invasive testing technologies to in-situ imaging equipment. There will be cash incentives for successful contributors, with useful designs potentially turned into 3D printed prototypes at a selected Fuse micro-factory.

Chicago's mHub, site of the first Fuse micro-factory

The first Fuse micro-factory will open in December at Chicago’s mHub, a recently announced manufacturing innovation hub on the city's West Side, and will focus on non-destructive testing solutions within medical equipment imaging and product inspection disciplines. Micro-factories like the Chicago facility will bring together GE teams, customers, entrepreneurs, student groups etc. to work on 3D printed prototypes, small-batch manufacturing (including additive manufacturing), and modular experimentation.

As part of its launch, Fuse will become part of GE’s extensive Innovation Network, a global, connected ecosystem of accelerators, startups, and innovators. “For the world’s leading digital industrial company, Fuse is the path to accelerated manufacturing innovation,” said Dyan Finkhousen, Director of Open Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing for GE Global Operations. “With Fuse, we’ll convene brilliant minds and agile manufacturing hubs to transform product and technology innovation.”

Fuse will host regular design competitions such as image compression (above) and engine inspection (below)

While the Chicago Fuse micro-factory won’t fire up its 3D printers until December, the inaugural Fuse innovation challenge opens November 8, with a grand total of $39,500 up for grabs in prizes. The challenge, “CT Scan Image Compression,” invites manufacturing-savvy minds to solve the complex problem of making scans easier to store and transmit to experts who know how to read them. A forthcoming challenge will concern on-wing airplane engine inspections, encouraging participants to find ways to generate richer data for future maintenance productivity.

The collaboration is also big news for Local Motors, perhaps best known for its 3D printed vehicles such as Olli, an autonomous 3D printed bus, and the LM3D, the world’s first commercially available 3D printed car. Arizona-based Local Motors will open a new division, Forth, which will provide the platform and services that make co-creation possible for clients like GE and Airbus Group. “By fully embracing co-creation, GE has put itself at the forefront of manufacturing innovation,” said Elle Shelley, executive vice president of Forth and CMO of Local Motors. “Fuse is a shining example of the powerful outcomes we can achieve with collaboration.”

LM3D, a 3D printed car from Local Motors



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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