Tooling a factory is a delicate job, requiring company managers to perform a careful balancing act. For factories assembling large volumes of products with small fasteners, the clear tooling choice is the electric screwdriver. But which one? Even within this small category, there are hundreds of possible options from different manufacturers—too many to even sample. So, how can you know which one is best for your factory?
Before diving into this model and that model, it helps to be familiar with the basic qualities that electric screwdrivers share. These are the attributes which will ultimately drive your decision. Electric screwdrivers vary based on their torque control, torque range, accuracy, speed, driver type, maintenance requirements, and cost. Some electric screwdrivers are compatible with robotic arms or automated systems, while others must be operated by those of us still made of meat. Finally, some electric screwdrivers have special properties, such as adjustable RPMs, soft-stop clutches, or electrostatic discharge prevention mechanisms meant to protect specific classes of products.
Choosing the right electric screwdriver means finding the perfect balance of these attributes to match your current and prospective products.
Understanding the Differences Between Electric Screwdrivers
Let’s take a closer look at the different attributes electric screwdrivers can possess, as well as how these attributes affect production. Understanding these attributes will allow you to know a good screwdriver solution when you see one, helping to ensure your factory is tooled as effectively as possible.
- Torque Control. Perhaps the most important aspect of electric screwdrivers is their ability to control torque. Torque is the force applied to the head of a screw. Too much, and the screw or assembly breaks; too little, and it falls out. Electric torque screwdrivers rely on internal clutch mechanisms as well as current manipulation to control how much torque they apply.
- Torque Range. Certain electric screwdrivers are more powerful than others. Electric screwdrivers with wide torque ranges are more versatile, able to handle more products. This makes them a good choice for contract manufacturers and others who switch product assignments frequently. The torque range of electric screwdrivers extends further on the low end, for miniature projects and delicate fasteners, than it does on the high end, where pulse tools, torque multipliers, or large hand wrenches are preferred. Look at the torque specifications of your fasteners to determine the torque ranges your screwdrivers must operate in.
- Accuracy. When we talk about accuracy, we’re talking about the tool’s ability to provide repeatable results at a set torque value. The screw joint impacts the screwdriver’s accuracy and torque output. Factors such as type of material, type of joint, and whether any lubrication is required can all influence accuracy. As such, accuracy will vary depending on the electric screwdriver. When selecting a tool, be sure to evaluate the fastening joint needs of the application.
- Speed. For high-volume manufacturers, speed may be the most important attribute in an electric screwdriver. Fast rundown times can improve profits by helping to churn out more products per hour. For low-volume, specialty manufacturers, speed is less of a concern than accuracy and torque range. You should also consider the type of material used for a fastening application. For instance, when you’re working with plastic, you should typically use a lower speed.
- Driver Type. Electric torque screwdrivers commonly come in an in-line configuration. The tool is held vertically and lowered onto the fastener to apply torque. These tools often have either lever or push-to-start drivers. Levers give employees greater control, while push-to-start drivers improve fastening speed. There are also commonly available accessories that can change the tool’s configuration into that of a pistol grip tool or a right angle tool.
- Maintenance Requirements. Every torque tool requires maintenance, and electric screwdrivers are no exception. Electric screwdrivers should be regularly tested for calibration, either using in-house equipment or by shipping them to a third-party laboratory. Different types of electric screwdrivers also require additional maintenance. Newer screwdrivers with brushless motors require significantly less maintenance than older models.
- Cost. Electric torque screwdrivers range from several hundred to a couple thousand dollars per tool. More durable screwdrivers with more powerful features will cost more. While upfront cost should be carefully considered, it must be weighed against the expected lifespan and productivity of the tool.
- Operator Compatibility. Companies that rely on automatic or robotic assembly workers must equip themselves with tools which can interface with non-human operators. Factories which employ human workers for most assembly tasks do not need to consider this requirement.
- Special Considerations. Soft-stop clutches, adjustable RPMs, and ESD-safety measures are all attributes which help companies make delicate products. Soft-stop clutches and adjustable RPMs prevent damage to sensitive assemblies, like disk drives. Preventing electrostatic discharge is essential when manufacturing PCB and other electronics to avoid destroying electronic components during fastening.
Picking the Ideal Electric Torque Screwdriver Manufacturer
Once you understand each of the attributes of the various electric torque screwdrivers available, it’s time to start looking at different manufacturers. The best manufacturers will have proven track records in the industry—you may have already heard of them by reputation. In addition, they’ll meet quality standards and have certifications to prove it. Their experts should be willing to help you find the best tools for your needs, not just their quota. Their service centers should be convenient and helpful, providing maintenance, repairs, or advice as necessary.
There is no one best electric screwdriver. Choosing the right electric screwdriver comes down to carefully assessing the needs of your operation, and finding the right balance of screwdriver attributes to meet those needs. Finding a quality manufacturer can help immensely, as they can provide you with expert advice as the best available options for your operation.
Mountz, Inc. provides high-quality electric screwdrivers for any assembly operation. To browse our wide selection of electric screwdrivers, shop our store. Contact us anytime to ask a question. To inquire about price, request a quote. If you’d like to see our equipment in person, schedule an appointment. To get the latest torque-related news, follow us on LinkedIn.