FirstBuild is GE Appliance’s global co-creation community—a physical state-of-the-art microfactory in Louisville, Ky., and an online forum that harnesses the global brain power of the maker movement. FirstBuild engineers, working in tandem with makers, will speed the next generation of home appliance innovation and enable customization through small-batch production without the cost and risk of traditional mass manufacturing.
By facilitating co-creation, engineers, designers, cooking and home enthusiasts around the world identify market needs and participate in product development. The manufacturing model, unprecedented in the appliance industry, enables creators from anywhere to watch and participate via social media as ideas become challenges or projects, and the most viable products move to production. Prizes and sales royalties are awarded to community members who make significant contributions. Products are initially made in small batches at FirstBuild and sold onsite or online at FirstBuild.com. The most popular products have the potential of scaling up to mass production.
FirstBuild also fosters collaborative relationships to drive innovation through cutting-edge manufacturing models and partnerships that are redefining how groundbreaking products are made. GE Appliances partnered with University of Louisville and Local Motors, the open-source hardware innovator, to create a new way of innovating and manufacturing that incorporates online co-creation and micro-manufacturing to design, engineer and build new products.
FirstBuild’s physical microfactory is a 35,000 square-foot former warehouse on the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus. Anyone can come to FirstBuild to work on projects of their own or collaborate with the FirstBuild team on current community projects. An additional benefit of FirstBuild being on UofL’s campus is that it serves as a resource for students and faculty who can work with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, some still in development. The collaboration also enables UofL students and faculty to interact with engineers and the community to innovate and accelerate the production of kitchen appliances.
FirstBuild is another example of how vital manufacturing is to Louisville’s local and regional economies. Louisville has a diversified and strong manufacturing economy, and has added 14,000 jobs in manufacturing since the height of the recession in 2009, outpacing the national recovery rate, and sees growing demand for skilled manufacturing workers.
About GE Appliances
GE Appliances, a Haier company, makes moments that matter for our owners through our passion for making great appliances and providing unparalleled services. Owners have more choices than ever before under the Hotpoint, GE®, Haier, GE Café™, GE Profile™ and Monogram® brands. Our products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking products, dishwashers, washers, dryers, air conditioners and water filtration systems. For more information visit www.geappliances.com/our-company.