General Electric exec shares details, slides on open innovation efforts

By Steven Melendez, Contributing Writer

While many big companies still utter the words “open innovation” with trepidation, getting bogged down in discussions about who will own what, General Electric has been racing ahead. Few companies are amassing more experience in leveraging the wisdom of the crowd for novel solutions to manufacturing problems.

In 2013, the company took to the Internet and challenged engineers around the world to improve on its design for brackets that are affixed to jet engines. To get their shot at a $20,000 prize pool, competitors had to design a bracket that met GE’s strength and shape requirements and could be crafted through additive manufacturing. That is, rather than being carved from a block of solid metal, the parts would be 3D-printed from a titanium alloy powder, melted into shape with a powerful laser.

The top prizes would go to the brackets that weighed the least, compared to GE’s existing 4.48 pound brackets.

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