General Electric Indonesia held the GE Garage to gather the nation’s ‘makers’ and expose new equipment to help take their innovations to the next level.
Bringing ideas come alive is the purpose of what’s called a ‘makerspace’, mushrooming all over the world. A makerspace is laboratory meets office room and tool shed. Anyone can be part of a makerspace, developing ideas and designing products with simple objects such as knitting tools to advanced 3D printers. Behind the advanced projects done in a makerspace, the objective is a simple one: to find solutions for daily problems. A makerspace can be part of school library or in someone’s garage where friends and fellow ‘makers’ can come to tinker. Aside from the tools and equipment, most importantly about a makerspace is that it brings creative people together. This allows for the creation of a community of ‘makers’ that can bounce back ideas and solve problems together. A makerspace is not a gathering of the smartest people, but it is a collective of hard workers. Every member works with a design-mindset: starting off from an idea, then making a prototype, followed by countless iterations to improve model after model.
In the similar fashion to a makerspace, General Electric (GE) has what it calls the GE Garage, which recently came to Indonesia. After all, GE is a company synonymous with innovation and creative ideas. Even pop culture illustrates an imaginary light bulb switching on above a person’s head when struck with an idea- an invention first patented by the company’s founder, Thomas Edison, in 1879.
Held from 18 to 23 August 2015 at Ciputra Artpreneur, Ciputra World, GE’s Garage gave the opportunity for Indonesian makers to meet and work with technical experts and partners to learn more about advanced manufacturing processes. Above all, Garage was a forum for innovation and networking for inventors and makers. The keynote speech during the opening of the GE Garage was presented by Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, Indonesia’s third president accredited as the nation’s ‘father of technology’. The president is not only a close acquaintance of fellow maker, Jack Welch, GE’s former CEO that increased the company’s value over 4,000%, but also shares the same passion of building upon human creativity and innovation. In front of a eager young crowd and Handry Satriago, GE Indonesia CEO, (which during high school pinned a poster of the former president in his room right next to a Metallica poster) BJ Habibie makes an invitation to not be a country only reliant on natural resources and commodities, but more importantly, developing its human resources.
The week long GE Garage was free, open to the public with scheduled programs that included hands-on classes, workshops and talks by a curated list of inspirational innovators. The hands-on classes offered participants access to 3D printers, Arduino kits (an open-source prototyping platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software), CNC mills and laser cutters, amongst other, and workshops included instructions on how to design and produce popular items such as drones, neo pinhole cameras (a modern version of an optical imaging device in the shape of a closed box or chamber), zoetropes (a device that produces the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs showing progressive phases of that motion).
During the GE Garage event, GlobeAsia got to see firsthand how 3D printers work. A Makerbot 3D printer retails in Indonesia starting from Rp40 million, and industrial sized 3D printers can go upwards of Rp10 billion. Instead of ink, 3D printers mainly use Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic coils (similar material used to make Lego blocks) as the source material- although there are other proprietary materials used. With the help of 3D printers prototyping cost and lead time can be shaved. Industrial sized manufacturers can lower their scrap or waste volume by using 3D printers as there is little to none waste produced. Even GE will introduce the first 3D-printed parts in an aircraft engine platform starting next year. The lighter weight and simpler design will lead to higher performance for their engines. GE Aviation expects to produce more than 100,000 3D-printed parts by the close of this decade.
As mentioned above, an important part of makerspace is the gathering of like minded makers networking and sharing ideas. The GE Garage event was the perfect platform to converge some of Indonesia’s most prominent startups such as Geeknesia, Flipbox, Somia CX and Tone, as well as social entrepreneurs which include Myo Kidz, Sabang Meruake, Make Sense, Cewequat and Hijabspeak. For the event GE partnered up with Make.Do.Nia, an Indonesian pioneer of the maker
“After the week-long GE Garage event I hope new ideas are born and new networks fostered,” said Handry Satriago. “We want to identify and invest in great technologies coming from Indonesian makers.” GE first founded the GE Garage in 2012 and has already been held in 16 cities across nine countries. Handry admitted that the GE Indonesia team had to fight against other GE operations around the world to bring the GE Garage event to Indonesia. It was important for his team to bring the GE Garage to Indonesia as it will help to further identify the nation’s rich talent-pool of creative minds. This include Arfian Fuadi and Arie Kurniawan, high-school brothers from small town Salatiga in Central Java, that won first place in a GE 3D printing challenge by designing a jet engine bracket. The global challenge held last year had 700 participants from 56 countries. Coming in second and third place behind the brothers were a Ph.D holder from Sweden and a Oxford University engineer respectively.