What’s the difference between a regular screwdriver and a torque screwdriver? Torque screwdrivers can detect and limit the amount of force they apply to a screw; regular screwdrivers can’t. Why is that important? Because if you don’t apply enough force to a screw, it can fall out of the hole. If you apply too much, you can damage the screw or the substrate, increasing the odds that the entire assembly will fail, either immediately or later under stress.
The ability to control torque is equally important for both high-volume manufacturing and the manufacturing of highly sensitive products such as satellites or internal medical devices. In high-volume manufacturing, small deviations in the torque applied to each screw can result in significant percentages of lost product. For highly sensitive products, the failure of a single screw can have catastrophic results. As such, companies across a broad range of industries rely on torque screwdrivers to safely, successfully, and profitably manufacture their products.
Which Torque Screwdriver Is Best for Your Business?
There are many types of torque screwdrivers, which can be separated into three broad categories by their mode of motive power: hand, electric, and pneumatic. The right one for your business depends on the specific needs of your product. Some factors which can influence your choice are desired production rate, your required torque output and specificity, any need for documentation, your manufacturing environment, and the size of the screws you’ll be working with.
Hand Torque Screwdrivers
Hand torque screwdrivers are the simplest of the three types, but they are no less effective than any other. Using an internal cam-over mechanism, hand torque screwdrivers “slip” when their designated amount of torque has been applied, mechanically preventing operators from applying more. This ensures that the correct amount of torque is applied to each screw.
While hand torque screwdrivers are not as fast as electric or pneumatic screwdrivers, they can deliver significantly more torque than electric screwdrivers and all but the most powerful pneumatics without sacrificing accuracy.
Even within the broad family of hand torque tools, several genera of individual tool types can be found. Hand torque screwdrivers can be preset or adjustable, and some are specially manufactured to meet clean room standards. Preset screwdrivers can deliver more torque than adjustable screwdrivers, but any changes to their torque settings must be made using a separate device. Adjustable screwdrivers can be reconfigured for different screws quickly and easily, but they leave themselves open to operator error.
Electric Torque Screwdrivers
The electric screwdriver family is a large one. Many varieties of similar electric torque screwdrivers exist, each with slightly different characteristics. For instance, some have brushless motors and require less maintenance, while others have less expensive brush motors and require more. Some screwdrivers are designed with soft stop clutches to protect sensitive assemblies; others are engineered to prevent electrostatic discharges, rendering them safe for assembling electronic components. Different species of electric screwdriver within the same genera may have different trigger mechanisms, such as a lever or push-to-start function, and may also be sized for different screws.
Intended for high-volume and/or delicate assemblies, electric torque screwdrivers are fast and precise. While they can’t deliver as much total torque as hand or pneumatic screwdrivers, they can easily maintain high production rates. In addition, electric screwdrivers are easily connected to DC control systems and can be used in automated assemblies, greatly increasing speed, repeatability, and the ability to document work performed.
Pneumatic Torque Screwdrivers
Powered by compressed air, pneumatic torque screwdrivers are the most powerful type of torque screwdriver available. Despite their strength and durability—these screwdrivers are built for more rugged manufacturing environments—pneumatic screwdrivers maintain impeccable torque control using an internal clutch that shuts off air when the correct torque is reached. Lightweight and available in three different configurations—pistol, right angle, and inline— pneumatic screwdrivers are ergonomically safe for assembly workers as well.
Without electric motors, pneumatic screwdrivers don’t create any spark, rendering them safe for use in manufacturing environments which include hazardous and potentially flammable materials. Quicker than hand tools and stronger than electric tools, pneumatic screwdrivers are ideal for more robust products requiring larger screws.
Finding the right torque screwdrivers for your business is a question of balance. You’ll need to consider speed, cost, power, the size of your screws, and the environment you’re working in. Companies which manufacture a range of products or certain complex products will likely need a combination of different screwdriver types to meet different needs. The best way to make sure you’re investing in the right screwdrivers for your business is to draw up a list of your needs, then consult an expert to find the perfect match.
At Mountz, Inc., we’ve been proudly producing and selling torque screwdrivers for over half a century. To see our full range of products, 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.