111 years of progress – anniversary year at Altendorf.
2017 marks the 111th year in business for German sliding table saw manufacturer Altendorf. Are we excited about reaching this palindromic milestone? Absolutely – but don't expect any big parties: the Managing Board has decided instead to mark this anniversary year with a series of events for customers. Altendorf will be putting on activities for customers old and new throughout 2017: "We want to give our customers plenty of reasons to celebrate this year," promises Jörg F. Mayer, Managing Director with responsibility for sales. All of our anniversary events and activities will be based around the idea of "111 years of progress", reflecting the fact, as Mayer puts it, that Altendorf is proud to be not just the inventor of the sliding table saw, but also the most experienced sliding table saw manufacturer in the world. This is the message we wish to share with our existing and potential future customers.
111 years: the story of a family company
The sliding table saw came into the world in 1906 when craftsman Wilhelm Altendorf developed the first Altendorf in Berlin. Wilhelm had not long before set himself up as the owner of a factory for office and shop equipment in the imperial capital. Berlin was booming at this time and there was no shortage of work to be had finishing and fitting out commercial premises. The existing table saws were not really up to the job as far as Wilhelm was concerned, however, as they lacked the accuracy necessary for precise trim cuts. His solution was to build a saw that allowed the material to be fed past the saw blade while firmly supported on the sliding table so that an initial square cut – the trim cut – could be made. The ability to make 90-degree cuts was then added and the principle of the sliding table saw as it endures to this day was born. This first innovation has been followed by a great many more innovative developments over the intervening 111 years. Today Wilhelm's invention makes life easier for over 150,000 Altendorf customers working with a sliding table saw and ensures that wherever in the world they are based, they have the tool they need for optimal productivity (remember an Altendorf can deliver productivity gains of up to 35%).
The first 40 years of the Company's existence saw two world wars, which together lasted a whole decade. Wilhelm Altendorf decided in 1919 to relocate the Company to his home town of Minden because of the crushing effect on business of the political unrest in Berlin around the time of the birth of the Weimar Republic. When the father of the sliding table saw died in 1948, his sons Kurt and Willy Altendorf took over the management of the Company. Eight years later, in 1956, they decided that the Company should concentrate solely on manufacturing sliding table saws in the interests of productivity. This move paved the way for the global success of the "Altendorf". A third generation of the Altendorf family joined the Company at the end of the 1950s in the form of Erika and Wilfried. Wilfried Altendorf and his brother-in-law Siegfried Thiele followed a consistent strategy of continuous international The first 40 years of the Company's existence saw two world wars, which together lasted a whole decade. Wilhelm Altendorf decided in 1919 to relocate the Company to his home town of Minden because of the crushing effect on business of the political unrest in Berlin around the time of the birth of the Weimar Republic. When the father of the sliding table saw died in 1948, his sons Kurt and Willy Altendorf took over the management of the Company. Eight years later, in 1956, they decided that the Company should concentrate solely on manufacturing sliding table saws in the interests of productivity. This move paved the way for the global success of the "Altendorf". A third generation of the Altendorf family joined the Company at the end of the 1950s in the form of Erika and Wilfried. Wilfried Altendorf and his brother-in-law Siegfried Thiele followed a consistent strategy of continuous international
111 years of innovations
Until 1956, Altendorf manufactured all kinds of different wood processing machinery, with development work spread across numerous new machines and a considerable number of existing models. The Company has 14 entries in the register of patents and utility models in the years 1920 to 1934 alone. Not one of them relates to the sliding table saw though; instead they are concerned with other wood processing machinery and exotic-sounding (to modern ears) developments such as a "Grain and baking flour mill" and a "Feed unit for the production of cigar box boards". Inventor and inveterate optimiser Wilhelm Altendorf clearly had a wide range of interests. Fortunately he also managed to turn his hand to the critical job of promoting the Company and marketing its products in the trying periods of reconstruction following the two world wars. In 1934 Altendorf developed the first sliding table to be mounted on pairs of rollers; previous versions had relied on runners. This invention opened up the possibility of attaching devices for a whole range of different applications, making the sliding table saw more versatile in use and enabling it to become a key tool of the woodworker's trade. Altendorf's priorities since the 1950s have revolved around technical improvements (of which there have been a great many) and the never ending task of optimising the different machine families (the F 90, the F 45 and the TKR range of table saws). The Company has been pioneering the development of CNC axes for sliding table saws since the 1990s. Its first rip fence with motorised adjustment (ELMO) debuted in 1989 and was soon followed by CNC height and tilt control for the saw unit. The F 45 ELMO and its three CNC axes quickly proved a winner in the higher price segment. The mid-1990s saw Altendorf unveil the F 45 POSIT c.a.t.s – the first machine with four CNC axes and the capacity to work with panel sizing programs from production planning – and usher in the age of the Computer Aided Table Saw (the fourth axis to be motorised was the crosscut fence). The F 45 POSIT c.a.t.s was the first (and for a long time only) sliding table saw to close the loop and support a fully integrated, centrally controlled production operation. The latest generation of the F 45, which Altendorf introduced in 2015, does away entirely with manually adjustable height and tilt systems for the saw unit. Today every F 45 control unit provides the option of two-way tilt for the saw unit too – another feature unmatched in the market. Altendorf has been innovating with a passion for 111 years. Customers will be pleased to hear that despite this, it still has big plans for the future of the sliding table saw.
111 years of progress – selected developments from our past
Sliding table (1934)
Scorer unit (1968)
Steel-concrete composite design for machine frames (1970)
Safety hood with integrated extraction (1974)
Tilting saw unit (1975)
Hydraulic axis adjustment (1979)
Double-sided mitre fence (1985)
Motorised rip fence adjustment (1989)
VARIO drive: infinitely variable saw unit drive (1995)
TIP-SERVO-DRIVE: the first and only operator-controlled infinitely variable motorised sliding table drive (1998)
POSIT/c.a.t.s panel sizing program (1999)
Parallelogram cross slide (2008)
Vacuum clamping system in the sliding table (2008)
F 45 modular system (2015)