What is design? Redefining the geometry of a gear’s teeth as to improve its durability? We start a small step before that. We observe the whole picture, trying to see how the products we make interact with the user and the environment. Sometimes there are minor issues, sometimes problems are so large that they assume social relevance. When we address these last and try to find a solution, we call it “socially responsible design”.
Vibration coming from the use of hand-held power tools is a well-documented cause of occupational injuries—painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints, known as HAV (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome). Millions of workers are exposed to risk of developing the HAVS in the workplace. HAVS is serious and disabling, and once the damage is done, is permanent. The European Union Directive 20002/44/EC acknowledges the risk and limits EU workers’ exposure (exposure action value at 2.5m/s2). Unfortunately, the vast majority of power sanders, rotary hammers and reciprocating saws fail to comply with this important safety regulation.
Some tools vibrate as a side effect, but others do as a primary effect. Power sanders, for example, do the job by vibrating the sandpaper attached to their pads. Positec’s VibraFree technology takes a unique approach: it takes the unwanted vibration and recycles it onto the work piece rather than transferring it to the operator’s hand. Simple and revolutionary, it works regardless of feed force.
VibraFree-based power sanders not only comply with the EU safety regulations, but also dramatically increase worker productivity by re-directing unwanted feedback vibration back to the work piece. A Intertek-certified sanding test shows VibraFree power sanders’ reduce vibration by approximately half compared with the best competitor machine, and were over 30% more efficient. As a result, the combination of lower vibration and higher productivity leads to a dramatic reduction of the exposure to vibration by the user.
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