We don’t know whether Ford is running out of ideas or if they are just really interested in what the minds of non-automakers can produce. After placing a "Your Ideas" section on their interactive consumer website and getting together with University of Michigan students for their “American Journey 2.0” project, Ford has teamed up with TechShop to open a DIY workshop in Detroit for anyone with a design mind and able hands.
TechShop already has locations in California and North Carolina set up to offer space, tools, and machinery to anyone who would like to create a prototype of whatever idea is kicking around inside their head. The list of tools and machines is extensive with innovators being able to use milling machines and lathes, welding stations and a CNC plasma cutter, sheet metal working equipment, drill presses and band saws, industrial sewing machines, hand tools, plastic and wood working equipment including a 4’ x 8’ ShopBot CNC router, electronics design and fabrication facilities, Epilog laser cutters, tubing and metal bending machines, a Dimension SST 3-D printer, electrical supplies and tools, all to make whatever the member’s little heart desires. Dream coaches are on hand to help every inventor in creating a product and will also help the inventor with connections they may need to complete their projects.
Full story and press release after the jump.
TechShop began back in 2006 and has grown to over 800 members. They met with Ford at the 2010 Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA, where Ford was showing off their “American Journey 2.0”, and established a relationship that would lead them to a new location in Detroit, MI. It took Ford and TechShop all of three months to make this happen and now anyone who pays the $100 a month membership fee will be able to tinker around in the warehouse. Ford will benefit from this collaboration by considering any worthwhile ideas that local motorheads dish out.
Projects currently being worked on by TechShop members include soapbox cars, furniture, customer motor bikes, circuit boards, and even chocolate candy bars.
Ford and do-it-yourself (DIY)-based TechShop have kicked off a collaborative effort to open a workshop in the Detroit area that invites innovators, from backyard tinkerers to software engineers, to come on in and invent the next must-have in automotive technology.
A membership-based open-access concept started in 2006, TechShop (www.techshop.ws) offers creative minds of all kinds affordable access to space, tools, and machinery so they can dream up, design and develop prototypes of their latest inventions. To date, TechShop has locations in California and North Carolina, with more than 800 total members.
Ford and TechShop first met up in May at the largest DIY event of its kind, 2010 Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., where Ford was invited to show off its "American Journey 2.0" open- innovation vehicle app project with University of Michigan students. That gathering ignited the idea for the matchup that has taken form in less than three months.
"Ford has taken a leadership role in tapping ideas from outside the automotive space, including with academia, consumer electronics and information technology companies, to help create powerful first-to-market technologies such as Ford SYNC. Why not extend those opportunities to individual inventors and the maker community as well; asking them to embrace the vehicle as a possible platform for their ideas," said K. Venkatesh Prasad, group and senior technical leader, Ford Infotronics Research and Advanced Engineering.
Ford technical leaders will share the company’s vision on individual inventive contributions and how Detroit-area entrepreneurs can play a part during the Detroit Maker Faire held at The Henry Ford in Dearborn this weekend. "The talent pool and level of skill and knowledge in and around Detroit is incredible," added Bill Coughlin, president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies, the domestic auto industry’s only internal licensing group. "TechShop can provide a physical hub for this inventive community, allowing us to connect with them in a way never done before."
Ford is the first automaker to collaborate with TechShop, said Mark Hatch, TechShop CEO. "We are thrilled that Ford wants to work with TechShop to create a game-changing innovative workspace in Detroit, a market area full of a talented community of makers, hobbyists, backyard mechanics and general tinkerers that we have been trying to enter for more than a year."
The Ford and TechShop collaboration is further evidence of Ford’s overarching adoption of the open innovation model made popular by social media, software developers and technology companies.
In recent years, Ford’s outreach to automotive outsiders for ideas has included a who’s who list of academia, suppliers, consumer electronics and information technology companies. That list also includes more unlikely suspects, such as consumers and software developers.
Last spring, for example, Ford actively engaged consumers to submit, share and suggest ideas and technologies on the "Your Ideas" section of the Ford brand interactive consumer Web site, www.thefordstory.com. The pilot session generated some 3,600 submissions, giving consumers the ability to participate in a community-based setting where they could review and rate posted ideas and track what people thought about their own suggestions.
And, more recently, Ford announced the creation of a virtual community to engage software developers to innovate around SYNC. Interested developers can visit the SYNCmyride Web site (www.syncmyride.com/developer) and click to submit their innovative ideas, and sign up for the latest information and news about the upcoming SYNC application programming interface (API) and software development kit (SDK). Through July, nearly 800 app developers have signed up.
In theory, the collaboration with TechShop is an easy extension of the individual engagement fostered by open-source initiatives such as "Your Ideas" and the new SYNC developer network.
"With TechShop, we are bringing the concept of individual involvement to life in a physical space where people can develop their ideas, create prototypes and display them," said Coughlin.
Ford also hopes that the TechShop will inspire its own Detroit-area engineers, designers and scientists to innovate on their own time. "Inventors don’t have access to the same type of equipment or tools during off-hours as they do during work hours," said Hatch. "We want to offer them an affordable place to go that has the necessary equipment and resources to make their inventive ideas a reality."
A leader in licensing technology, Ford also sees the broader business potential of TechShop and streamlining the process for inventors looking to not only make physical prototypes of their ideas but license their technology to the masses.
"We want to create a mercantile exchange of innovations and ideas – a one-stop shop where makers can dream, design, develop and license their innovations for the real world," said Coughlin. "We want those dreams to come to life right here in Detroit."