Core 77 visits Festool - Part 7: Ten modern-day innovations

14th September, 2015

Author: Rain Noe - Core 77

The history post showed you where they were, this one gives you a sense of where they're going

In Part 2 we looked at Festool's early days of inventing, from 1925 until the 1980s, which doesn't span their full 90 years of existence. Since the 1990s, not only have they not slowed down, but the innovation appears to be getting more diverse. It's impossible for us to cover all of it, but we'll catch you up on ten of their innovations from the '90s to present day.

1993 - Better Tool Storage

Festool's signature modular, stackable, rackable and attachable tool cases made things way more convenient for tradesmen through brilliant industrial design. Stay tuned for the next entry to hear about the design competition that brought them into existence.

1996 - A New Form Factor for Drills

CDD 12 Cordless Drill
The company pulled some fancy engineering footwork, breaking the T-shaped form factor of cordless drills in order to create one that could get into tighter spaces. A boon for cabinet installers, the CDD is succeeded by today's C-series line of cordless drills, which all have brushless motors.

2000 - Inventing Ways to Sand Odd Shapes

LS 130 Linear Sander
Handheld power sanders are designed to work flat surfaces. But in 2000 Festool came out with the LS 130, which was specifically designed to sand contoured profiles—think handrails or molding—with linear motion.

You're probably wondering how you get the shape of the sanding pad to match whatever contour of the thing you're sanding. At one of Festool's training facilities, Festool instructor Georg von dem Bussche showed us how you use the workpiece itself to create a custom sanding pad. As you can see below, he's placed sandpaper against the workpiece, abrasive side out, and he rubs the hard foam pad against it; he then wears that pad down to create a positive that perfectly fits the negative space of the material. Pop the freshly-shaped pad onto the LS 130, attach the sandpaper and you're good to go.

2006 - A Faster Way to Join Wood

The handy Domino changed the ease and speed of wood joinery and has to be one of the best tools Festool has ever produced.

2009 - Maintaining Superior Dust Collection, All Job Long

CTL 36 E AutoClean
Festool started producing their own CT (CleanTec) mobile dust extractors in 1999, and has continued to evolve them ever since. The most advanced is their CT 36 AutoClean, this one aimed at folks using their Planex drywall sanders.

When you're extracting something as fine as drywall dust, it doesn't take long for filters to get clogged—and if that happens, you lose suction. The AutoClean function prevents this from happening. This video is shot from inside the vacuum, where a user has purposely allowed the filter to become clogged, then turns on the AutoClean feature to show you how it breaks the cake.

2010 - Compact Drilling and Driving

Festool's diminutive-but-scrappy CXS cordless drill gets into places others can't, but punches well above its weight. Speaking of weight, at sub-two-pounds it's roughly half the weight of an 18-volt that you'd use for heavy drilling, making this the go-to for all-day work with less fatigue.

It is reviews like this that make you understand the power of design and engineering. He still hates on Festool at the end for reasons you may or may not consider rational, but you can see that he's clearly hanging onto the

2010 - Even Better Tool Storage

T-Loc Systainers
Festool's sister company Tanos managed to improve the design of the original Systainer with the T-Loc Systainer, which replaces four latches with a singular rotating latch. Ergonomically ingenious, it allows you to lock two cases together with one motion, and even open the bottom case with the top still attached.

2010 - A Sander with Triple Utility

Rotex RO 90
Festool invented the dual-mode Rotex RO 150 sander way back in 1982, offering a single sander that provided both an aggressive gear-driven rotary mode and a random-orbital mode. It was two tools in one.

The Rotex RO 90 released in 2010 is three tools in one. The 90mm-diameter sanding pad is meant for sanding narrower stock and offers both the gear-driven and random-orbital modes; but the addition of an innovative delta head gives it a third functionality, the ability to get into corners that the round head can't. And it is, like all Festool sanders, virtually dust-free when used in conjunction with their CT dust extractors. See it in action in the video below. (If you're in an office, turn the sound down on your computer—the audio levels are too high.)

2014 - Assistant-Free Assistance

CT Wings
The CT Wings are a clever way to get an extra set of helping hands on-site using your vacuum.

By the way, I really regret not having taken a close look at these on-site. Because now that I'm looking at this press shot, I can clearly see that the elbow in the photo has been 3D-printed; I wonder if they all are, or if this is just a shot of a prototype.

2014 - Cordless, Dust-Free Cutting Convenience

TSC 55
The TSC 55 is Festool's signature TS 55 tracksaw, but cordless—and virtually dust-free even when it's not hooked up to a vac. (Not much point in going cordless if you're still connected to a vac, is there?).

To cap this list at ten, I had to skip a couple dozen other innovations I'd have liked to write about. Up above is just a smattering of what Festool's come up with in the past 20 or so years. As you read this, there's a small army of Festool engineers (and an industrial designer or two) working on the next generation of products, like whatever was sitting underneath that sheet we spotted in their testing center.

There's also new stuff that is already available in Europe, but not yet available in the 'States. It will be interesting to see what Festool comes out with for the U.S. market in the coming year. Well, interesting for you, anyway, who may be in the dark; I'm sitting here on a stack of embargoed press releases so I already have an idea, but am bound not to say anything until they ship. Sorry, folks.

Read the original article here.


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