The FINANCIAL — Nugget ice, the popular soft, chewable ice especially favored in the South and associated with restaurant chains and convenience stores, can now be enjoyed at home with the affordable Opal™ nugget ice maker from GE’s FirstBuild.
Available to purchase starting July 28 through Indiegogo, Opal is a countertop nugget ice maker designed by the FirstBuild community and priced well below other currently available nugget ice makers. Early bird pricing begins around $399 or less, with future retail pricing expected at $499. The ice maker will be shipped to Indiegogo contributors in mid-2016, according to General Electric.
FirstBuild is a new model of manufacturing that challenges makers around the world to ideate and help design innovations in home appliances. In March of this year, FirstBuild challenged its community to design a residential ice maker that would appeal to nugget ice enthusiasts. The design of Opal is a result of ideas generated by the maker community.
The Opal nugget ice maker works by packing together small ice crystals, creating nuggets of soft yet crunchy ice. Nugget ice chills beverages faster than conventional ice cubes. The air pockets in each nugget also absorb the flavor of the drink while cooling, leaving a chewable and tasty refreshment for those who enjoy snacking on ice after they have finished their drink.
Opal is a compact countertop design that plugs into any electrical outlet and holds 3 pounds of ice, about as much as a typical refrigerator. Opal produces its first nuggets in just 15 minutes, and can produce 1 pound of ice per hour. The elegant stainless steel unit includes a crystal-clear, removable ice bin that slides out and tilts forward for easy access to the ice.
“We know from our consumer surveys that people prefer nugget ice over crescent ice by about three to one,” said Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, director of FirstBuild. “We developed Opal to offer an affordable nugget ice maker for home use and we are using Indiegogo as a selling platform to gauge market acceptance of the product.”