Festool developers Matthias Kübeler and Andreas Sdrzallek

Tech Talk: SawStop technology

An interview with the developers of the new TKS 80

How much work goes into developing the new TKS 80 and how exactly does the SawStop technology work? As part of our Festool Tech Talk, we spoke about the new table saw with senior developers Matthias Kübeler and Andreas Sdrzallek.
Festool developers Matthias Kübeler and Andreas Sdrzallek
Andreas Sdrzallek and Matthias Kübeler

Andreas Sdrzallek (pictured on the left) manages the development team in the Czech town of Česká Lípa, the development site of the new table saw.

Matthias Kübeler (pictured on the right) is Head of Advanced Development at Festool and responsible for the development and integration of the SawStop technology.

What makes the SawStop technology so special?

MK: It reduces the risk of serious cuts to the user if his hand gets into the saw blade. The whole thing happens in the blink of an eye. Within just five milliseconds, the saw blade brakes and users are left with just a scratch.

That sounds impressive. But how exactly does the SawStop technology work?

AS: It's quite simple really: The function is triggered by a capacitive sensor. If this sensor registers contact with human skin, a cartridge is activated – and everything stops. The heart of the SawStop technology is a cartridge that works together with a spring to push an aluminium block into the saw blade if it comes into contact with the user's skin during operation.

The SawStop technology is the first feature of its kind in Europe.

MK: That's right. The TKS 80 will be the first portable table saw in Europe to be marketed with this kind of technology. It offers us the unique opportunity to make life safer for tradespeople and protect them in this way. And we are happy to keep investing to achieve this goal.

That does not mean customers no longer have to concentrate on their work…

AS: That's right, handling the tool correctly is key. At the end of the day, technical features like this do make working with table saws much safer – which is very important. But still, users always need to be careful and must never become negligent. The technology is simply a last resort to protect customers, just in case something does go wrong.

How big is the team working on the TKS 80? And what are your roles?

MK: The great thing is that it's not just the two of us working on the TKS 80, but an entire international team. There are more than 30 people involved in the development of the new table saw. It was largely developed in Česká Lípa with support from colleagues in Wendlingen and from SawStop in the USA. As for my part, I'm responsible for the integration of the SawStop technology.

AS: I'm Head of Development at the Česká Lípa site and responsible for team integration and the provision of resources needed for development. The hardware and software designers are based here in Wendlingen. I'm responsible for coordinating the communication between the different sites.

What was the collaboration like during the project?

MK: For this project, there was a great deal of team spirit across all sites from the very start. Everyone was simply incredibly motivated to integrate such a fantastic technology into the saw and make it available for tradespeople.

AS: We found it really motivating to develop a product that would make work much safer for tradespeople.

"Users always need to work carefully and must never become negligent. The technology is simply a last resort, just in case something does go wrong."

Andreas Sdrzallek, Head of Development at Festool s.r.o.

How many sausages were sacrificed as test dummies?

MK: Not as many as you might think, since even sausages are only left with a scratch thanks to this technology. But naturally, our team got together and ate all the scratched sausages afterwards (laughs).

Is it possible to retrofit the SawStop technology on other Festool saws?

AS: Unfortunately that's not possible due to the complexity of the entire system. We'd simply have to make too many changes to the existing system.

Aside from the SawStop technology, the new TKS 80 is also pretty good at sawing, right?

AS: Absolutely. We developed a really great saw with the typical Festool genes. The TKS 80 does not just protect your fingers, but naturally also delivers impressive results in traditional areas like precision and cutting quality.
Festool developers Matthias Kübeler and Andreas Sdrzallek
The SawStop technology in the Festool TKS 80 table saw
The SawStop technology in the Festool TKS 80 table saw
The SawStop technology in the Festool TKS 80 table saw

Do you involve our customers in the development of the table saw?

AS: Definitely! Together with colleagues from Application Technology and Product Management, we go out to our customers, ask about their requirements and incorporate the feedback so that we can implement their wishes as much as possible.

MK: We are happy about any and all feedback we receive as part of surveys or during trade fairs. We try to incorporate this feedback in the next steps of the development process. But there comes a certain point in the development where the feedback phase is complete and the tool is being finalised.

Were there any particular challenges during the project?

AS: Every development project has its own challenges. There's also the feedback we receive at a later date, which we have to continually incorporate. What made this project particularly enjoyable was the interdisciplinary collaboration. The experience of our colleagues from SawStop in the USA was invaluable as well, since they have been marketing SawStop technology on the American market for some time now.