These power tools can do some unusual things to save time and money
When it comes to power tools, sometimes it’s not the newest development that’s important.
Sometimes the most unique, interesting and useful power tools have been on the market for years and job shops might not necessarily be aware of them. CS Unitec, FEIN, Kett Tool, Metabo and TRUMPF all have tools that fit that category. The innovative power tools they offer help job shops become more efficient and productive, and to also save time and money through their unique features.
To rescue their customers from what they term the limited-use bench grinder, CS Unitec developed the stationary multipurpose Multi-Max Grinder. The unit is essentially three tools in one: a disc sander, a drum sander and a drive motor with a 0.625-in. by 11-in. UNC thread that allows for a handheld, flexible-shaft tool to get into narrow spots.
“With the Multi-Max, we wanted to offer the marketplace a tool that could replace the bench grinder and provide the versatility and flexibility of a few tools in one benchtop unit,” explains Simon Wainwright, CS Unitec’s brand manager.
“Users can bring their small workpieces to this high-power tool and perform various grinding, blending and finishing tasks – all with one unit. And the flexible shaft attachment allows them to grind and polish hard-to-reach areas, including the inside of pipes and tubes.”
Weighing only 5.2 lbs., the Multi-Max features a powerful, three-phase 750W, 220V AC motor with speeds of up to 2,800 RPM. The grinder will accept 0.125-in. and 0.250-in. shaft and 4-in. to 7-in. diameter abrasive discs and drums.
The uniqueness of FEIN’s power tools lies in the fact that they’re multifunctional. Ernie Leopold, FEIN’s product specialist, points out that most tools are made for a specific application and are thus limited to that application. This isn’t the case with FEIN’s tools.
“Everyone in this day and age is looking for efficiency,” he comments. “So we try to manufacture our product systems to solve problems that the end user might have in the job shop, especially a small to medium-sized one where they might not have access to the variety of CNC machines, plasma cutters and waterjets that a larger shop might.”
One of these tools would be FEIN’s JCM 206Q magnetic base drill, which, as described by Leopold, is suitable for any job shop use where drilling, tapping, reaming or countersinking on a production basis would be needed. It would also take the place of larger stationary drilling machines in cases where it would be difficult to bring the material to the drill.
When asked about the thought process behind developing the drill, Leopold points again toward FEIN’s problem-solver mentality. “It’s an evolution. How do you build a better mousetrap?”
FEIN, being the world’s oldest power tool manufacturer, has asked themselves that question since 1895 when they invented the electric handheld drill. It led them to manufacture the first magnetic base drill in 1909, and it still informs their process now.
Leopold says that part of that process is having field reps talking frequently with end users. When they say they have a problem, the reps take that back to R&D. “R&D will come back and say, ‘We’re seeing that particular application more and more, and there are no solutions for it.’ So we’ll find a solution. And that’s what generates our products.”
This thought process has led to some unique features on the JCM 206Q, including its ability to be used in a stationary fashion on a workbench.
“If you use it as a stationary product like this, you don’t have to go out and purchase a large radial arm or a mill,” explains Leopold. “You can do a lot of it on the bench top.”
Leopold also points out that when drilling prior to fabrication, the tool needs to be stationary, while if drilling after fabrication, it needs to be mobile. “With the JCM 206Q, you have the ability to efficiently go back and change anything you might have missed.”
FEIN’s JCM 206Q uses an annular cutter designed specifically for heavy-steel applications, whether ferrous or non-ferrous. Leopold comments that it’s durable and produces precise burr-free holes with a clean finish.
The annular cutters are also available in various grades of material, including M42 tool steel with cobalt, and can be carbide tipped, while the drill’s castings use aluminum-magnesium alloys to not only ensure that they’re lightweight, but also long product life.
“They’re ideal for every type of material, whether it’s just a common, low-strength carbon steel to 80,000 to 120,000-pound-yield-strength steel,” he says. “The drill is ideal for those types of applications.”
Other features of the JCM 206Q include a proprietary motor and a quick-change feature that allows the drill’s tooling to be changed rapidly for other applications without tools or disassembly.
In addition to a 12-in. stroke range, the drill also provides a reverse function and a memory function to make the tapping process run more smoothly.
Kett Tool’s KSV-432 and KSV-434 handheld circular saws stand out from the crowd through their saw blades.
“Our saw blades are small,” says Rick Fowkes, vice president of Kett Tool. “Nobody else really makes that type of tool with a steel-saw blade that small.”
The advantage of a smaller blade is that, compared with a larger diameter blade running at the same motor RPM, its cutting speed at the tips of the teeth is lower. This
allows the KSV-432 and KSV-434 to cut sheet metal at slower speeds without burning up the blades – they’re able to cut at motor RPM ranging from 1,100 to 2,500. Larger blades would require much lower RPM and more complicated and expensive motor gear reducers, while Fowkes says that alternative blades styles would have been either more expensive or not suitable for hand-held power tools.
The main difference between the two saws is that they use slightly different sized blades. The KSV-432 uses either a 2-in. or a 2.5-in. blade, while the KSV-434 uses a 2.5-in or 3.5-in. blade.
“It just gives you a little bit more depth of cut,” says Fowkes.
Both saws are able to cut 16-gauge and lighter mild steel, hard and soft aluminum, brass, copper and lead, lending themselves to a wide variety of job-shop applications.
“They can be used for anything that a big saw can’t accomplish, as well any type of custom cut,” comments Fowkes.
He cites the metal door industry specifically. “You have windows and door strikes that you need to cut and you also have to cut doors off specifically to fit the openings. Our saws are used quite a bit in that type of thing. If a door’s a little too big, they can fix it, so our saws work for custom changes like that, really any type of custom job.”
The motivation behind the KSV-432 and KSV-434 was that Kett Tool wanted a more maneuverable circular saw for their customers that could easily cut sheet metal.
In the realm of unique power tools, Terry Tuerk, Metabo’s product manager, points to the company’s new 5-in. WEPBA 14-125 QuickProtect and the 6-in. WEPBA 14-150 QuickProtect angle grinders – aptly nicknamed the “Alphabet” grinders in reference to their acronymous call signs – as well as their new Combinator grinding discs.
The major innovation in Metabo’s new Alphabet grinders is the added degree of safety they offer.
“When turning off an angle grinder, typically the spindown can be anywhere from seven to 13 seconds depending on the condition of the tool,” says Tuerk. “With the Alphabet grinders, when you turn them off or let go of the switch, a brake engages, stopping the grinding disc in less than two seconds and when working with a thin cutoff disc, it’s in less than one second.”
Not only does the faster spindown time help to eliminate injuries where a worker would brush-by the turning wheel, but it also helps eliminate what Tuerk calls the number one source of injuries with angle grinders: kickback, where the wheel comes back at the operator, possibly causing an injury. But with the faster spindown time, the wheel will have been stopped before any serious harm could be caused.
The brake that stops the wheel on either of the Alphabet grinders is mechanical, instead of electronic. Tuerk specifies that an electronic brake is much harder on the components of the motor – most notably the carbon brushes that transmit the electricity from the switch to the motor – while the mechanical brake that they use has been tested to over 50,000 cycles before it shows any signs of visible wear.
A final benefit of the 1400W, 12.2 amp Alphabet grinders is their autobalancer feature that automatically reduces vibrations in the tool and diminishes the risk of potential long-term, work-related injuries, while decreasing maintenance. According to Tuerk, both the tools themselves and the grinding discs last 50 to 100 percent longer before routine maintenance is required on the former or replacement of the latter.
TRUMPF’s TSC-100 is the only power tool of its kind in North America, allowing job shops to perform a necessary and important function on their laser beds, which is slat cleaning.
“With the TSC-100, the customer can reuse the slats instead of throwing that material away,” says Tony Mirisola, TRUMPF’s power tools product manager.
The TSC-100 is relatively easy to use, functioning on about 15 serrated teeth to scrape off slag, whether from steel, stainless steel or aluminum.
“If you melt all of those together into one piece of slag, it’s a pretty tough piece of material,” he says. “But the tool will clean off any one of those individually or all of them combined.”
To operate the TSC-100, a user would start the tool at the front end of the laser table and then push it across – while it’s being pushed, the slag gets removed. Once at the far end, it can be tilted up and moved onto the next slat and then pulled back across the table. The process is repeated until the entire table is clean.
For added utility, the 36-lbs. TSC-100 can also be fitted with a ‘transport wheel’ – a shaft with two wheels that can be bolted onto the end of the tool. “This way you don’t have to carry it from one place to another – you can just roll it right across the floor.”
Mirisola recommends that customers make a regular habit of cleaning the slag off their laser bed’s slats. “If there’s a lot of slag on the table, the laser cut will kick back some of that slag onto the bottom of the part. In many cases, the customer must scrap the part because of this unwanted material buildup. Keeping the table clean will result in less scrap parts.”
“Also, if you let that slag build up on the slats, sometimes your sheet won’t sit flat, which will create scrap,” he mentions. “Having clean slats leads to less scrap and, in turn, greater profits.
“It’s surprising how many customers we’ve found that will often just take the slats out and throw them away. With the TSC-100, they could reuse them approximately four to seven more times.”
Mirisola also points out that it works on all laser cutting machines.
“It will clean any table width that we have,” he says. “It comes with an operator manual, of course, but it pretty much comes out of the box ready to run – you take it out, plug it into the wall and start cleaning.”