Patents and table saw safety


The Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering making a safety device mandatory for construction/woodworking table saws. This is interesting case I think in how brilliant technology and patents can work against each other. The inventor started his own line of saws and have fought power tool makers to force them to license his product for a significant premium.


"You commissioners have the power to take one of the most dangerous products ever available to consumers and make it vastly safer," Gass said at the public hearing. "And yet, here we are over 14 years later after this petition was initially filed, still engaged in a glacial process with an uncertain end. There's no time left to waste."

While inventors should be compensated, at the same time it seems disingenuous to demand regulations mandating his product in the name of safety all the while fighting those not willing to pay your terms. If safety is your mission, then I feel the licensing terms should be attractive enough to be widely adopted.

On the flip side, if consumers want to buy his product, they can.

Anyway, the technology is pretty cool and has a demonstration involving a hotdog. In the video below the demo starts around 2:30.

He put an inexpensive little sensing device inside it. And if the saw nicks a finger, within 3/1000ths of a second, it fires a brake that stops the blade. Gass demonstrates this in an epic video using a hot dog in place of a finger. The blade looks like it just vanishes into the table.