TTS Tooltechnic Systems – a third-generation family-owned company whose biggest power tool holding is Festool – is purchasing SawStop LLC, as well as its parent company SD3. Along with the purchase, TTS Tooltechnic Systems is acquiring the company’s headquarters building and all of its patents. The deal is expected to be completed in July 2017. What does that mean for the availability of flesh-sensing technology? No one knows – yet.
When several of us were visiting Festool’s headquarters last year in Stuttgart, we walked by an empty box for a Bosch Reaxx that was sitting outside the doors of its R&D division. We all took note and wondered “Hmmmm – that’s interesting.” It was obvious then that the company was exploring flesh-sensing technology and probably had a SawStop behind those doors, as well. It isn’t unusual to see competitors’ products while on a tour at a tool manufacturer – so we weren’t particularly surprised. Festool has made table saws in Europe for years, but hasn’t brought them to the U.S. because of UL requirements; I was told it didn’t make financial sense for the company to modify the tools to bring them here to the states. Could this acquisition change that – could it mean that we’re going to see Festool table saws here in the future? Very possibly – but that’s pure speculation at this point.
SawStop’s founder and president Dr. Stephen Gass said in the press release: “We are proud to join a company with a shared passion for customer safety, product quality, and meticulous engineering. Speaking for our entire team in Tualatin, Oregon and across North America, we are excited to join with TTS to bring safer woodworking to more people through new tools and in new markets around the world. With a family like TTS at our side, I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together.”
One thing is clear from the press release and was reiterated in my conversation with SawStop’s VP of marketing: The companies will be exploring the use of flesh-sensing technology in “new tools.” That’s vague, though pretty suggestive. Does it mean more table saw options? Probably. Does it mean flesh-sensing technology will be developed for other tool categories[DC1] , as well? It certainly sounds like it.
Neither SawStop nor Festool would comment further on the details of the acquisition. The only thing that I did learn is that it is a deal that’s been in the works for the past few months. SawStop had a significant win in its lawsuit against Bosch recently. We can do all kinds of speculation about the reasons and timing of the purchase – but chances are good that only those with the papers, pens, and authority to sign the contracts will know for sure why, when, and how it all went down.
One thing that hasn’t been talked about much yet is what the acquisition does for SawStop’s image. The company has earned a reputation for making high-quality saws. Now that it’s owned by a German company that produces Festool products, the acquisition can’t do anything but help its image get even better in the future.
We will be paying close attention to this story as it develops – but chances are it will be the kind of thing that trickles slowly as new products emerge. It may take a few years to get the whole picture. In the meantime, we can trust that flesh-detection technology is about to take another major step in the tool industry.