How guide bars are created at STIHL

Take a look behind the scenes at STIHL and follow the development and production steps of our chainsaw guide bars.

Overview: Bar development and production 

  • STIHL develops guide bars for various applications and requirements 
  • Prototypes are produced in Waiblingen in the immediate vicinity of the development department
  • Extensive tests and trials ensure STIHL quality 
  • STIHL produces solid bars, nose bars and three-part bars 
  • Lightweight bars are ideal for demanding work thanks to their low weight 

Guide bars from Waiblingen 

STIHL develops guide bars for chainsaws at the company headquarters in Waiblingen, Baden-Württemberg. The bars are manufactured at three locations around the world: the USA, Brazil and also in Waiblingen – in the immediate vicinity of the development department. 

STIHL guide bars stacked in a box
Some STIHL guide bars are manufactured in Waiblingen.

The more than 100 guide bars available differ in length and design to cover a wide range of application scenarios. Despite these big differences, all STIHL guide bars have one thing in common: they offer a first-class weight-to-durability ratio.

Development of a STIHL guide bar

The route to series production begins with the first steps of bar development. First, customer requirements are analysed. These are a major focus in bar development. The analysis defines the applications that the new bar will be developed for and which requirements the model should meet. This has a direct influence on the design of the bar. 

Which design for which application?

A man in a workshop screwing a STIHL Rollomatic E guide bar onto a chainsaw

Three-part bar: These guide bars consist of three metal plates welded together and are suitable for professional and private users alike. Three-part bars offer high stability despite low weight with a maximum bar length of 63 centimetres, enabling comfortable and precise work.

A person sawing a tree with a STIHL MS 881 petrol chainsaw with a nose bar

Nose bar: For heavy timber work, nose bars are the first choice for precise cuts thanks to the particularly rigid bar body. These bars are available in lightweight design and are optimally adapted to professional forestry requirements. They are ideal, especially in combination with our larger chainsaws, such as the STIHL MS 881.

A man in protective equipment uses a STIHL chainsaw with a solid bar to cut up a tree that has already been felled

Solid bar: These guide bars have a solid steel body, the body and tip of which are protected by a durable carbide alloy plating. This makes the solid bars ideal for heavy timber work that places particular demands on torsional rigidity and where the weight of the guide bar plays a minimal role.

Initial designs and prototypes 

As soon as the application and design of the bar have been determined, the development department creates the first CAD designs on the computer. The new guide bar is created virtually. 

The next step in production is to produce the first prototypes from the CAD designs. Thanks to the close proximity of development and production in Waiblingen, this can be done quickly and easily. 

Testing and optimisation 

Extensive test loops are carried out to ensure that every guide bar fully meets the high demands placed on STIHL quality. In this process, each bar is not only optimised and improved for its later purpose, but also subjected to specific tests to ensure maximum safety, torsional rigidity and material quality.

STIHL guide bars are tested in a workshop
STIHL guide bars are subjected to specific tests.

Kickback test: The kickback test bench is used to test how the overall system consisting of chainsaw, guide bar and chain behaves in the event of a kickback. This data is incorporated into the development to produce guide bars that ensure maximum safety for users. 

Bending test: This tests the rigidity of the guide bar. The STIHL guide bars may deform under high force in the wood, but then return to their original, straight position. 

Hardness test:
This test ensures that all materials incorporated in the guide bar have the intended hardness. 

Dimensional check:
Exact dimensions are a basic requirement for every STIHL guide bar. This test therefore checks whether the bar meets the detailed specifications. 

Approval and worldwide testing 

When a guide bar is released for series production, the required production aids are created. The first series production units undergo all the tests again before they are given to STIHL customers for testing in practical use worldwide.  

Feedback on the general handling in use and on the behaviour of the guide bar under a wide variety of climatic conditions is provided directly to the development department in Waiblingen. This means that the properties of the guide bar can be tested and confirmed under real conditions on the one hand and, on the other hand, a wide range of experiences and feedback can be incorporated directly into the development of the guide bar.

Good to know

In order to increase the cutting performance of cordless chainsaws, STIHL has developed particularly narrow guide bars designed for professional use. Since 2022 October the three-part STIHL Light 04 guide bar has also been available with a groove width of 1.1 millimetres.

Manufacture of a solid bar

Manufacture of a three-part bar

Manufacture of a nose bar

A nose bar consists of the body of a solid bar and the nose of a three-part bar. STIHL nose bars are manufactured in both classic solid construction and weight-saving lightweight design.

A man wearing protective equipment working with a STIHL chainsaw in a forest
STIHL nose bars are ideal for professional forestry work.
Two STIHL Rollomatic E guide bars lying on a tree stump, with saw chains next to them

Your chain and bar advisor 

With the STIHL chain and bar advisor, you can select the ideal combination of saw chain and guide bar for your requirements in just a few steps. This allows you to use your chainsaw even more efficiently.

Table: STIHL guide bars overview

Bar typeModel examplesFeaturesUse and benefits
Solid barDuromatic E, 1.6 mm
  • Solid steel body 
  • Body and tip protected by durable carbide alloy plating 
  • for chainsaws in middle and high performance categories 
  • for felling and processing hardwood 
Three-part barRollomatic E light, 3/8“ P, 1.3 mm
  • Three metal plates welded together
  • for professional and domestic users 
  • High stability thanks to three-part design 
  • Low weight of the bar allows for comfortable and precise work 
Nose barRollomatic ES, .404“, 1.6 mm 
  • Solid body with interchangeable bar nose
  • Particularly rigid bar body 
  • For precise and powerful cutting and demanding work with heavy timber 
  • Optimised for professional forestry requirements 
  • Ideal in combination with our largest chainsaws, such as the STIHL MS 881 
Lightweight guide barsRollomatic E light P, 3/8“, 1.3mm
  • Three-part lightweight bar
  • For professional and domestic users 
  • Offers improved chainsaw balance thanks to low weight and special lightweight design 
Lightweight guide barsRollomatic ES light, 3/8“, 1.6 mm
  • Lightweight nose bar 
  • Special wear-resistant steel with milled cavities 
  • Sturdy hollow body with rigid outer structure and substructure 
  • Fully replaceable bar nose 
  • For a wide range of forestry work 
  • Special laser process for greater safety and protection at work 
  • Ideal for timber harvesting, felling and pruning 

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