GE Wants You to Play With Power Tools at SXSW

Ever used a laser cutter? How about a cold saw, ironworker, injection molder or 3D printer? If not, do you want to?

No matter your power-tool qualifications (or lack thereof), GE wants to give you a chance to get some hands-on time with them.

The company is launching a series of pop-up open workshops at South by Southwest called GE Garages. A promotion for its “GE Works” campaign, the garages are scheduled to appear in Houston, Cincinnati and San Francisco later in the year.

Tools in the garage are free, and they’re open to anyone to use for their own projects (with “support in product building”). But since most people won’t want to spend a whole day in the workshop when they’re at SXSW, GE has defined some quick projects for the conference as well.

The projects include using an injection molder to make an iPhone case with a customized spot for mobile payment device Square. You can also weld together bike racks for the city of Austin and etch your name into a business-sized toolkit. If you’re so inclined, you can subject your own mobile device to the engraving tools.

GE partnered with collaborative development platform Quirky, peer-to-peer learning marketplace Skillshare, membership-based workshop and fabrication studio TechShop on the project. The garage was designed and built by an agency called Sub Rosa.

Despite obvious liability issues involved in letting the public operate your power tools, GE global director of communications Linda Boff assures us there’s no need to worry about lost fingers.

“We have a lot of faith in people,” Boff says. “And the tools will be well supervised.”

What would you make in the GE Garage? Tell us in the comments.

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