General Electric Co. has chosen Chicago as the site to launch the company’s first 'microfactory', a model that looks to use small-batch manufacturing to focus on product development and innovation.
The project, called Fuse, is a collaboration between GE and Local Motors to open these small factories focused on rapid prototyping and small-batch manufacturing and bringing together GE teams, customers, entrepreneurs and students.
The Chicago site will be at mHub, which is part of a recently announced innovation hub on Chicago’s West Side. The factory, which will open its doors in December, will work on non-destructive testing solutions within medical equipment imaging and product inspection disciplines.
“As we move into the digital industrial era, we believe speed and collaboration will be essential to drive the greatest value for the markets we serve. Our Fuse business will accelerate product and technology development by combining open innovation with micro-manufacturing,” said Dyan Finkhousen, director open innovation and advanced manufacturing, Geniuslink, GE Global Operations.
This microfactory in Chicago comes after GE moved the lead office for GE Transportation’s Digital Solutions business to the city, creating 160 jobs to focus on the advancement of digital technology in transportation and healthcare.
“GE has been continuing its investment in Chicago, with the move of its Transportation and Healthcare headquarters to the city over the past few years, including a recent announcement to bring an additional 100 tech jobs in 2016,” Finkhousen said. "Particularly relevant for Fuse, Chicago also boasts a burgeoning tech hub and entrepreneurial communities—ideal partners and talent to help solve for some of the world’s most pressing opportunities."
According to Finkhousen, the locations for the rest of the microfactories are still to be decided on.