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SawStop is no longer the only table saw on the market with flesh-sensing technology.

Manufacturer Bosch recently announced a new product called the “Reaxx,” which is a table saw that includes a safety mechanism similar to SawStop’s braking system. The announcement bodes well for woodworkers, as this type of technology has been found to significantly reduce injuries like cuts, abrasions, and amputations.

SawStop Led the Way

Back in 2010, Carlos Osorio was awarded $1.5 million in damages for injuries he sustained while working on a Ryobi table saw. The jury agreed with the plaintiff that Ryobi had failed to implement new technology that might have saved Osorio from losing his fingers and having to go through extensive surgeries and rehabilitative therapy.

Steve Gass, inventor of SawStop, presented his flesh-sensing braking system to a number of table saw manufacturers back around 2000, but none took him up on the offer of licensing the product. Gass’ technology operates on an electrical current, which senses when the blade comes into contact with the skin and stops it within five milliseconds. The braking system also removes the blade completely from the table.

Steve’s own demonstrations of the product included him inserting his finger into the path of the blade, and coming away with not even a scratch. The blade and brake cartridge are sacrificed in the action, but can be easily and economically replaced.

Saw manufacturers have hesitated to implement his technology, however, stating it would increase costs for customers, and privately commenting that it would expose them to liability in civil lawsuits.

Bosch System Has Some Advantages Over Saw Stop

As more plaintiffs have been awarded compensation for table saw injuries, manufacturers have had to pay attention to the growing demand for safer equipment. This is most likely why Bosch has taken the steps it has to offer its customers a safer alternative.

Bosch’s new product, Reaxx, will launch in the fall of 2015. It is a 10-foot table saw with a flesh-sensing, blade-stopping system similar to SawStop, except Bosch is using technology similar to that used to deploy air bags. When the blade senses flesh—again, via electrical current—the device fires a cartridge that, instead of braking the blade, actually drops it below table level while simultaneously killing the power. The blade is allowed to gradually stop on its own, which unlike the SawStop mechanism, preserves it for future use.

Both systems leave the user with barely a scratch or nick. But Bosch has another advantage in that the system can be reset in less than 60 seconds, as the blade doesn’t have to be replaced. The firing cartridge, however, is good for only two uses. After that, it must be replaced, and costs about $100. It can be used for both regular and dado blades. The retail price for the entire table saw is $1,499.

CPSC Reports Thousands of Table Saw Injuries Every Year

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that between 2007 and 2008, nearly 80,000 hospital emergency room visits were for table saw injuries, making the table saw the most dangerous wood working tool there is. They awarded Steve Gass a safety commendation for SawStop in 2001.

Bosch is the first manufacturer outside of SawStop to provide any sort of blade-stopping technology on their table saws.

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