There’s some debate about who invented the angle grinder and when they first came about, but there’s no denying that these clever tools have revolutionised our industry.
Modern-day angle grinders can be used for a range of different applications, from walls being easily etched to roof tiles being conveniently cut and polished. The most common use of angle grinders, however, stems from what they were first intended for, and that is as a go-to tool for cutting, polishing, deburring, stripping rust and removing weld beads from metal.
Now there are conflicting stories as to who came up with the genius idea of the angle grinder. Some say Thomas Joseph invented the device in 1973; others say it was Hermann Ackermann and Hermann Schmitt, much further back in the late 1920s. You could go as far as to attribute the concept to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians with their primitive lathes, stone grinders and bow drills, which encompass some traits relative to the angle grinder.
We feel it’s best to give credit where credit is due, and it’s our understanding that zee Germans in Ackerman + Schmitt, as their company was called, certainly paved the way.
In 1922 the duo released their MS6 hand-held grinding machine to the general public, which featured an electric motor that drove a flexible shaft with a grinding wheel on the end. It’s said that by the end of the ’20s they successfully engineered a geared head driven at a right angle to replace the flexible shaft; although it wasn’t until 1935 that they officially launched their low-speed angle grinder to the world.
These early angle grinders didn’t really take off straight away. Made with cast-iron bodies, they were big, cumbersome machines that held large grinding discs and little in the way of safety. In 1954 the Hermanns unveiled the first high-speed angle grinder, the DL9, and although more powerful, it still lacked versatility and finesse.
To cut down the weight and improve usability, high-tech plastic casings were soon introduced. And in a time of great leaps and bounds, motor speeds also advanced to create what was becoming a new, emerging tool in the mainstream marketplace.
Of course electricity was still needed to power these early models that were being brought out by various brands. This power source had its own inherent downfalls. Even with generators improving, accessibility, maneuverability and safety became an issue with a lagging cord dragging behind.
Battery power was the perfect fit for the angle grinder, turning it into a truly astonishing handheld tool. It became even lighter, more portable and easier to work with in tight spaces and remote places.
Advancements in technology also saw the device’s motor grow in power but reduce in size; plus the inner gears became better protected against grinding and cutting dust.
Protection for the user has now also become paramount with features like anti-kickback technology, dead-man switches, speed controls, external grips, outer guards and disc shields. Modern angle grinders are now safer, more durable, quieter and more ergonomic than ever before.
In fact, the basic idea of the angle grinder proves to be so efficient and successful that it has been incorporated into other machines and continues to drive new innovations.