"GE is committed to leading the next manufacturing revolution through innovative hardware, material and process advancements,” claimed Mark Little, senior vice president and chief technology officer, GE Global Research Center. “This revolution depends on collaboration with external innovators and partners. These Quests will help us to convene and engage this community in meaningful ways and ultimately build an additive manufacturing ecosystem."

GE says that it has already reduced production times by up to 25% and achieved cost savings by putting additive technologies to work on an industrial scale. It now wants to the application of these technologies and increase the speed and quality of innovation.

The ‘quests’ have been launched with partners CAD specialist GrabCAD and marketers NineSigma and are open to the public. The first phase will be open from 11 June to 26 July 2013. One ‘quest’ is for participants to create the best 3D printable design for an aircraft engine bracket. The top ten designs from the first phase will win US$1,000 each and will be additively manufactured and tested by GE during phase two, while the top eight designs in the second phase will be awarded from a total prize pool of US$20,000.

The second ‘quest’ requires participants to use 3D printing technology to produce highly precise and complex parts with high precision for medical imaging. Up to ten winners from the first phase will be awarded US$5,000 and invited to participate in the second phase, which includes prototype fabrication with specified materials. Up to three winning prototypes will be awarded US$50,000 each.

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