May 13, 2022

Can you buy SawStop in Europe? | How The Reaxx Lawsuit Impacted things

Does SawStop distribute to Europe?

TTS Tooltechnic Systems AG & Co. KG owns Sawstop (DnbCom). Sawstop is not available to buy in Europe. 

SawStop alternatives in Europe

Sawstop has been the only player in town when it comes to selling table saws with finger-saving technology. The first Sawstop table saw was released in 2004. That introduced Sawstop alternatives in Europe. 

Sawstop owns the patents to this technology and still chooses to build their saws rather than leasing the technology to other tool manufacturers.

Why Sawstop?

Sawstop has managed to keep its prices stable. Other manufacturers have passed these costs on to customers through extra shipping charges or price increases. SawStop has a test mode to check whether the wood is damp enough to set off, connecting the sensor to light rather than the airbag charge. 

Why alternatives?

SawStop has some patents on its safety technology. They refuse to license it at a reasonable fee. They defend their patents in the courts and always win. If another company designs an alternative system, SawStop sues the company even though it. 

SawStop seems to be in for the money. If they were about operator safety, they would license their technology to all comers at a reasonable rate per unit. You only have two options.

You can also choose to buy a European-style sliding table saw and eliminate 99% of the problem or learn how to use it. However, it takes time to master the methods used.

Alternatives

Bosch Reaxx

Bosch has announced a Jobsite table saw featuring an active safety system they call REAXX. However, the saw was not yet available for purchase before 2015. When the “The Bosch REAXX Jobsite Table Saw” became available.

Bosch’s REAXX system uses a two-sided cartridge to push the blade below the table while the blade spins down. Bosch’s system does not damage the saw blade, and the cartridge can be flipped around and used a second time before replacement.

Unlike SawStop ruining both blade and brake cartridge, the Bosch flesh-detecting Active Response Technology kills the power, allowing the blade to coast to a stop safely within the cabinet, keeping it for future use.

SawStop has sued Bosch for infringement. SawStop seems to be winning the argument, yet Bosch has triggered some competition for further innovation. However,  SawStop has the right to defend its patent if it is a legitimate infringement. 

The most well-known Sawstop alternative was the Bosch REAXX table saw. That saw featured a similar flesh-sensing technology to the Sawstop. The initial versions of the saw were a job site type table saw. There were complaints about the cut quality. 

Some users complained that the sensing technology was overly sensitive, which led them to override it manually. That defeated paying a premium price for the tech.

The courts ruled that the technology used by Bosch infringed on the Sawstop patents, and the sale of the Reaxx table was banned. However, there are still some markets, namely Canada, where the Reaxx is still sold.

Whirlwind

In 2010, Whirlwind Tool introduced a flesh-triggered blade brake that stops the blade 1/8 second. However, this system was not available on the market in April 2015. 

The suppliers brought the product to market in April 2015, and a press release stated that Whirlwind Tool was looking for someone to buy or license their technology. The whirlwind is the only active safety device for a table saw that can be attached to an existing table saw.

The Whirlwind Tool Black Box differs from the Sawstop and Whirlwind systems in that it does not sense flesh contact directly through the blade. Instead, it detects the proximity of flesh to a blade guard. 

When the blade guard detects flesh within a certain distance, it triggers a non-destructive blade brake which stops the blade in 1/8 second. That is quick enough to prevent an injury since the brake is supposed to activate before flesh contact with the saw blade.

The Whirlwind seems like a viable competitor to SawStop technology, and it will have attracted woodworkers that do not want to destroy blades on their saws. However, SawStop has already proven itself with its technology and manufacturing quality. Only when a more solid footing is by Whirlwind or any other blade stopping technology, SawStop will continue to dominate its market.

Felder Table Saw

Felder is not as popular as Bosch Reaxx in the woodworking community. Their machines are geared more towards commercial settings. In 2019, they debuted their version of flesh sensing technology with the  Preventative Contact System.

You can buy a table saw from Felder that will drop the blade if your body is in danger of coming into contact with it. The technology is only available on their Kappa 550 sliding table saw starts at 15,000. While they are beautiful table saws, they do not make a Sawstop alternative.

There is hope that this technology makes its way to their Hammer line of tools which, while not affordable. It would be more in the range of possibilities for woodworkers who can afford higher-end tools.

Saw Shield

A company called Saw Shield has come up with an invention that you install yourself on your table saw or band saw that uses skin sensing technology similar to Saw Stop. There is no need to touch the blade to set it off when your finger is near the saw blade. 

It is adjustable between one inch and a quarter inch. The blade does not drop down, but a brake stops it instantly. During the operation, you cannot damage the blade. Replace the brake cartridge after a discharge. The setup costs 350, and the replacement cartridges are 70. The challenge is they are not shipping yet, and you have to pre-order to get that price. 

David D. Hughes

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