GE, UofL team up to open 'microfactory' on Belknap Campus

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by Brooke Hasch

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 24 at 2:25 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- If there has ever been a time when you thought to yourself, 'I should invent that,' there's now a place in Louisville that can turn your idea into a reality.

General Electric has teamed up with the University of Louisville and opened the city's first "microfactory," called FirstBuild and it's located on UofL's Belknap Campus.

The factory is open to anyone with ideas on how to improve kitchen appliances distributed by GE.

Both GE representatives and UofL's president, James Ramsey, were on hand for a grand opening and tour of the new facility Thursday morning. Inside, new inventions such as 3D printers and robots are in production. There was also an appliance many cooks would pay extra for: an oven with a door that's attached to the oven rack so when the door opens, the rack automatically slides out with it.

The idea here is to speed up the invention process and get it on the market even faster and as the inventor, you are looking at thousands of dollars in capital investments versus hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take anywhere else.

"You are seeing products in here today that we've been working on for only three months. So, this whole thing is fast and we're going to continue to be fast. That's what it's about," Kevin Nolan, GE's vice president of technology said. 

During our tour, WHAS11 News addressed the elephant in the room: With rumors General Electric will sell its Appliance Park in Louisville, how would a sale affect this partnership with UofL? Those questions were quickly shot down by both parties.

If you'd like to be a part of the ideas taking shape at FirstBuild, you can log onto firstbuild.com or visit the facility in person, where you can work one-on-one with an engineer to help design your vision.

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