From the Good Ideas File: Design and build your own car… or washing machine… or whatever

A side effect of the attention that I have been paying to the Downtown Project in Las Vegas lately is that I stumbled across this incredibly awesome little company called LocalMotors.  Local Motors — I’m not making this up — enables you to design. build and sell your own vehicle.  It’s a crowdsourced co-creation platform where you help design with hundreds of bright people you may never meet, build it in a Microfactory, and sell it wherever.  I’m serious.  Check it out.

man building motorcycle

Sounds like some gear head’s hobby, or Etsy for guys who like to weld things, right?  But it’s also an incredibly powerful new way of designing and manufacturing things — powerful enough to get General Electric’s partnership.  This article is short, so I’ll reprint it here in entirety:

General Electric has teamed up with Local Motors to develop a new approach to production for companies in the manufacturing industry.

Through the FirstBuild open platform, the partnership plans to mine ideas from designers, builders, makers and other enthusiasts for new technologies and products, GE said Thursday.

GE says those ideas will then be built, tested and produced in small batches at a joint microfactory with processes and prototyping techniques that are designed to speed up time to market.

GE Executive Director of Global Innovation Steve Liguori said the company intends to use the model to strengthen its product lineup, starting with kitchen appliances, for its next generation of clients.

“At GE over the past years, we’ve… (focused) on R&D as well as co-creation, open collaboration and partnership, which has allowed us to engage new audiences and develop a following across various industry sectors,” Liguori said.

The initial set of projects under the program will focus on appliances and the first product is scheduled for release into the market by late this year.

Imagine open platform product development — design and build pretty much anywhere —  does to your community’s potential for entrepreneurship.

Or your region’s strategic emphasis on advanced manufacturing.

Or what your workforce training program need to teach.

Or the future of your high-tech employers.

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