An anti-vibration system is a standard part of chainsaws today. But that hasn’t always been true. Back in the old days, the handles were attached directly to the engine of the chainsaw, which meant that users could really feel the vibrations of the machine.
The first one-man saw, the legendary STIHL Contra, revolutionised forestry when it was launched in 1959. The Contra allowed forestry workers to trim trees with a chainsaw instead of an axe for the first time. However, this also meant that chainsaw operators were exposed to higher vibration loads.
STIHL was again innovative: A patent for an anti-vibration system for chainsaws had already been filed by 1964. The main features of this system were rubber elements to separate the handle from the engine.
This made it possible to cut the level of handle vibration in half. In 1965, series production started on the Contra, which was equipped with the new feature now known as the anti-vibration (AV) system. While still quite visibly a retrofit solution on the Contra, the 041 AV already featured a built-in anti-vibration system in its frame in 1967. The rear handle was mounted on a cast magnesium component surrounding the carburettor and the air filter. This design, known as a frame-mounted anti-vibration system, was also used in later products.
“The anti-vibration system is a good example of my father’s inventiveness. He cared deeply about society and was always concerned about the well-being of others. This concern wasn’t just limited to the company’s employees. His aim was to improve products in such a way as to make it easier for users to work with them. The anti-vibration system helped make the hard forestry work more comfortable.”
Dr Rüdiger Stihl
Steel springs and rubber buffers
When a growing number of countries placed limits on chainsaw vibrations in the early 1970s, STIHL went back to the drawing board to come up with a more solid concept for further reducing handle vibrations. For the 042, the company developed the stable handle housing with built-in fuel tank that is used to this day. Still made of magnesium back in 1976, the first polymer version was featured on the new 024 in 1982. With a further reduction in limits on the horizon in the late 1990s, it once again became necessary to reduce handle vibrations. This would have been impossible with the rubber elements used at the time. Although rubber buffers are sturdy, their material properties do not allow them to absorb vibrations as well as steel springs despite having the same spring stiffness. As a result, today’s STIHL chainsaws are all equipped with steel-spring elements combined with a complex shock-absorption system consisting of rubber and hard-foam buffers.
Making forestry more comfortable
STIHL anti-vibration systems are designed in a process involving development, calculation and testing. Forestry workers put the results of function developers’ work to the test in professional use. The effort is worth it: the handle vibrations of STIHL chainsaws are considered to be comfortable. Find out more about STIHL anti-vibration systems here.
Workplace safety regulations regarding the professional use of chainsaws differ from country to country. You can find more information on our website: www.stihl.com/vibrations-english.aspx