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GE Appliances' FirstBuild microfactory expands to India

The facility will open in 2019.

Bobby Lindsey (left), of Louisville, Kentucky, and Wesley Bornor, of Plymouth, Michigan, work on their idea for a sensor for a refrigerator that measures volume of liquids and report those levels to a smart phone during a hackathon at GE's FirstBuild microfactory in Louisville in 2015.

Hunter Wilson, GE Appliances

FirstBuild, a microfactory created by GE Appliances, will expand into India, the company announced Tuesday. FirstBuild will work with a prototyping center and makerspace called T-Works in Hyderabad, India to open a location in early 2019, according to a release from GE Appliances. FirstBuild employees will work  with T-Works' designers, programmers, students, craftsman and makers.

In 2014, GE Appliances opened a microfactory/makerspace in Louisville, Kentucky, called FirstBuild, where designers and engineers can work on offbeat projects that could eventually be available for small-scale distribution. That space has given birth to such projects as the Paragon Induction Cooktop, the Opal Nugget Ice Maker and the forthcoming Forge Clear Ice System

The India location will be the second international expansion for FirstBuild. The microfactory worked with Shanghai Tech University, Jiao Tong University and the University of Michigan to open a Center of Excellence in Shanghai, China in 2017. The facility focuses on electronic hardware, artificial intelligence and design hardware.

FirstBuild's expansion shows that there is success in the concept of creating a collaborative and small environment within a bigger company to invent unique products that can gain a small-scale following. We've seen a similar idea within Whirlpool and its WLabs offshoot, which has created the Zera food recycler