LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2015 — MakerBot and FirstBuild™, GE Appliances’ global co-creation community, have spent the past few months encouraging inventors and engineers to “hack” the refrigerator and create cool 3D printed prototypes that have the potential to become new accessories for the FirstBuild ChillHub, the only refrigerator as smart as you. ChillHub, a GE refrigerator with features created by the FirstBuild community, allows for Internet connectivity, integrated power sources inside the refrigerator, and the ability to communicate with the user via USB ports and a mobile app. 

As part of this effort to encourage innovation, MakerBot and FirstBuild teamed up to host the Icebox Challenge via Thingiverse.com and FirstBuild.com. The Icebox Challenge sparked ideas ranging from purely 3D printed pieces to battery-operated electromechanical devices.  The three top entries, selected from almost 200 submissions from around the world, are being announced at CES; the winning prototypes are showcased in the MakerBot booth, #72711, at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas, in a Real-Time Prototyping™ area that also features FirstBuild.

Winners from the U.S. and Germany
First prize for the Icebox Challenge goes to the Odor-Eating HotSpot by Kurt Hamel of Providence, Rhode Island, a marine mechanical engineer who created the winning entry with inspiration from his wife, who guided his original idea of combining power and data toward tackling a common issue: the use of a box of baking soda to keep the refrigerator smelling fresh. 

Second prize goes to the Rad Reindeer by Sebastian Kerner of Wismar, Germany, a mechanical engineer who is currently enrolled as an industrial design student. His Rad Reindeer bottle holder was inspired by his life as a student: His refrigerator was often filled with fast food and countless bottles and cans that would roll around.

Third prize goes to the Butter Pig by Steve Weber of Indianapolis, Indiana, a software developer in the automotive industry. The inspiration for his design came when he was cooking dinner and kept needing another pat of butter. He would intermittently slice the butter, then put it back in the refrigerator, and then cut it again, each time dirtying a knife. His idea was to make a simple butter cutter with a guillotine on one end, but he needed a way to push the butter toward the cutting mechanism, so he came up with the corkscrew idea.

The first-prize winner and second-prize winner receive a MakerBot® Replicator® Desktop 3D Printer and a MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer, respectively. The third-prize winner receives Thingiverse and FirstBuild T-shirts, and his creation will be featured on Thingiverse and displayed in the MakerBot Retail Stores. All winners have the potential to see their winning design featured in the new ChillHub smart refrigerator, available at FirstBuild.com

“The refrigerator is one of the biggest appliances in your house and one you use every day,” noted Jenny Lawton, CEO of MakerBot. “This is the first time we, as consumers, have had the opportunity and the ability to contribute accessories to such a major home appliance. To be able to customize and 3D print accessories for it is a very cool thing. I think we are just starting to see how Real-Time Prototyping with MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers is helping engineers and product designers iterate on ideas quickly and affordably, and then see those ideas go to market in a real-life product that impacts so many.”

“3D printing and design challenges, like the Icebox Challenge, empower consumers to customize their home appliances,” noted Natarajan (Venkat) Venkatakrishnan, director of FirstBuild. “FirstBuild is a new model of manufacturing. Our physical microfactory and worldwide online community help us create products people want and get them to market much faster than traditional manufacturing.”

ChillHub, a 27.7-cubic-foot french-door ice and water refrigerator, retails for $2,999 and can be ordered in black, white, slate and stainless steel. For more information about ChillHub, visit FirstBuild.com.

About MakerBot
MakerBot
, a subsidiary of Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq: SSYS), is leading the Next Industrial Revolution by setting the standards in reliable and affordable desktop 3D printing. Founded in 2009, MakerBot has built the largest installed base of desktop 3D printers sold to innovative and industry-leading customers worldwide, including engineers, architects, designers, educators and consumers.  To learn more about MakerBot, visit makerbot.com.

About FirstBuild
FirstBuild, a partnership between GE Appliances and Local Motors, is a global co-creation community that harnesses the brainpower of the maker movement to change the way major home appliances are conceived, designed and manufactured. A physical state-of-the-art microfactory on the University of Louisville campus and an online forum, FirstBuild speeds products from mind to market and enables customization through small batch production, without the costs and risks of traditional mass manufacturing. For more information on how to get involved, visit FirstBuild.