As we bid farewell to December and welcome January, our minds are preoccupied with the world of concrete. It’s the biggest event we attend each year, offering us the opportunity to test out various tools that we will review in detail later on. Choosing the top 10 tools for the World of Concrete was akin to selecting the top 10 fans who don’t want to see the Patriots win another Super Bowl – a challenging task indeed. However, we are more than capable of rising to the occasion.
Skilsaw 48V True HVL 10-1/4” Worm Drive
Skilsaw has made a triumphant entry into the cordless market with their 7-1/4” worm drives. The unveiling of their 10-1/4” model, a genuine worm drive unlike the worm drive-style saws from other manufacturers, was equally impressive. This saw, similar to the Sawsquatch but without the cord, can effortlessly cut 4×4 in a single pass. Despite its large diameter, it is surprisingly easy to use, and power is certainly not lacking. Look out for its release in October, priced at approximately $799 including two 48V, 5.0Ah batteries.
Makita 18V X2 LXT 9” Electric Cutter
Makita’s cordless electric cutter shares many features with other cordless models, but it stands out with its electronic clutch controls instead of mechanical controls. Additionally, it boasts automatic feedback technology and employs the same 80mm brushless motor as Makita’s 1-9/16″ 18V X2 rotary hammer. We had the opportunity to witness its smooth cutting experience, devoid of any expected vibrations. Just like Makita’s circular saws, this cutter exudes a premium feel. The pricing of the kit falls between $899 and $934.
Hilti Tracefast Smart Concrete Fasteners
Hilti showcased several impressive innovations, including their first-ever cordless circuit breaker. However, the star of the show was undoubtedly the release of their Smart Fastener System. Through Hilti’s Connect app, the unique numeric matrix code on each fastener can be scanned, allowing users to track its installation and consult the specifications for applying the correct torque. This breakthrough technology marks a significant step towards a future where everything is specified in BIM, fastened using torque-inputting tools, and seamlessly connected through smartphones to generate comprehensive reports and monitor progress. Thanks to Hilti’s smart fastening system, this vision is becoming a reality.
SkyMul Rebar Binding Drone
True to its name, the SkyMul Rebar Binding Drone flies around concrete structures, meticulously tying rebar point by point. By simply outlining the perimeter on a computer, the work can be efficiently completed by a single or multiple drones. All that is required is someone to oversee battery charging and wire filling. Although still in the prototype stage, this innovative product is expected to retail for around $35,000 when it hits the market.
Bosch 18V Cordless Track Saw
Bosch, known for its exceptional corded track saws, is preparing to launch a cordless model. The overall shape and controls are unchanged, but notable improvements have been made. One crucial feature is the electronic speed select system, allowing users to adjust the blade speed according to the material being cut. For softer or thinner materials, activating Eco mode grants an additional 30% battery runtime. Alongside this model, Bosch also revealed new cordless circular saws, including one that is track-ready and features a user-friendly depth control on the handle. Stay tuned for pricing and availability details.
DeWalt 60V Max FlexVolt 1-3/4” SDS-Max Combination Hammer
Nestled between DeWalt’s smaller FlexVolt rotary hammer and its cordless 2″ SDS-Max powerhouse is the new FlexVolt 1-3/4″ SDS-Max combination hammer. With an impressive impact energy of 10.5 Joules (7.7 ft-lbs), this tool strikes the perfect balance between size and power, making it an excellent choice for a cordless SDS-Max model. Falling under DeWalt’s Perform and Protect series, it features reliable vibration control, an electronic clutch for tool stoppage in the event of binding, and integrated wireless tool control that can start the vacuum without requiring a remote. Look for its release in March, with the bare tool retailing at $599 or $899 with two 9.0/3.0Ah FlexVolt batteries.
Fraco Passive Exoskeleton
While we have previously caught glimpses of exoskeleton systems designed to assist with heavy lifting, this year we were able to witness them firsthand. This fascinating concept aims to extend contractors’ working hours and reduce injuries, ultimately helping address the skilled labor shortage. The Fraco passive exoskeleton combines both passive and quasi-passive actuation to support and assist the mason’s arm, effectively reducing stress on the body. With the ability to support up to 15 lbs per extended arm and 26 lbs per arm at the elbow, this system is truly impressive. To learn more, you can contact Fraco directly. The upper body configuration can be preordered for approximately $6,650, while the full-body version is expected to sell for around $10,000.
KATO-CES VXB Lithium Electric Mini Excavator
Compact Excavator Sales (CES) unveiled their 9VXB lithium-ion powered mini excavator in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. This model, which has earned a coveted spot on my Christmas wish list, boasts a digging force of 2360 lbs with its 12″ bucket. It can operate for up to 8 hours, providing around 5.5 hours of continuous digging. Charging it during lunchtime for just one hour yields approximately 3 hours of additional working time, and all it requires is a 110V power supply. The price for this model is set at $48,000, while its larger counterpart is available for $57,000. Visit the KATO-CES website for more information.
RedArt Technologies CNC Routing Concrete Art
Numerous decorative concrete concepts were showcased this year, but none were as captivating as what Red Art Technologies presented. Utilizing a Makita router and CNC, this system creates striking images and text on concrete slabs, standing out from other methods. The CNC Pro system comes with an approximate running cost of $15,000. For more details, you can find additional information on their website.
Rattle Stick Float and Screed Systems
The Rattle Stick is an attachment placed between your float and handle, providing extra vibration. This innovative tool enables smoother finishes and more consistent results, all achieved in just one stroke instead of multiple passes. By saving time and boosting productivity, it allows your crew to work more efficiently. Compatible with DeWalt, Makita, or Milwaukee 18V/20V Max batteries and more, the Rattle Stick EX Modern Finishing System can be purchased directly from www.rattlestick.net for $1570.
These are our top 10 best tools in the concrete industry. Did you spot something at the show that you believe should have made the list? Feel free to share it with us in the comments below!