In the first of a series of online articles from Festool’s Phil Beckley, he takes a look at how tools have developed with technology.
There has been an incredible amount of tool technological developments since I first started out. Significant progress has been made in battery technology and with brushless motors.
Brushless motors entered the scene nearly 20 years ago and enabled tools to be used more efficiently. Brushless motors provide immediate torque so – for example – there is no need to wait until a blade is running at full speed. When used with a battery the brushless motor ensures that the limited power and run time available is used very economically. The obvious big advantage of this is that the battery is charged less frequently, which means less downtime. Everyone knows that time saving = labour saving, making your hourly rate much more valuable.
Another big advancement in the tool market, which I’m particularly excited about, is Bluetooth. It represents a significant milestone in tool tech.
The merging of technology and power tools is nothing new, but with the use of apps and Bluetooth systems from different manufacturers, the race is on to see who will produce the greatest benefit for the customer. Bluetooth will make work even easier – dust extraction can be automated with cordless machine, and when used with an app, a machine can be adapted from a mobile phone for the type of work it is being used for. For example, the torque setting can be adapted straight from a mobile and other ‘features’ can be downloaded to enhance the use of a machine.
The biggest development overall in tool tech has come with the advances made in plastics, metals and smaller motors. The days of using a corded drill that needed two hands to lift have thankfully gone. It is an area, I think, that will continue to generate the biggest benefits to the end users.
On the other end of the spectrum, since I first started in the industry, the circular saw is still the most common machine in the tool kit and hasn’t really changed. Circular saws still rely on some form of human guidance or a guide rail to make the accurate cut, but who knows what can be achieved with the use of lasers?
This is already being used in some of the large industrial machines so I predict at some point this will filter to the portable power tool arena, and from there anything is possible.
Phil Beckley is a Technical Trainer at Festool UK. Phil has been qualified for 30 years and still works on commission furniture. Prior to working at Festool, Phil was a lecturer at West Suffolk College.
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