By Grainger Editorial Staff 9/8/22
Big changes are happening in the world of power tools. Exciting trends and innovations are emerging from improved battery technology, connectivity and ergonomics to new built-in features like enhanced dust control. Tool manufacturers are focused on designing easy-to-use tools with smart technology for improved performance and safety. Here are five major trends driving the power tools industry today.
The shift from nickel-based to lithium-ion batteries greatly improved cordless battery performance and provided key advantages like more lightweight, compact designs and longer-lasting charges. While the price of lithium-ion batteries has historically limited them to more high-end tools, prices have fallen significantly in the last decade contributing to broader cordless tool adoption. Thanks to their use of low toxicity metals, greater energy density, and low self-discharge rates, lithium-ion batteries are now a leading power source for a variety of power tools. As lithium-ion battery technology continues to advance, one emerging innovation is stacked battery cells. Compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries, stacked battery pouches are designed to deliver more power, faster-charging rates and longer run time.
According to FacilitiesNet, manufacturers are focused on making power tools safer, easier and more comfortable to use, with ergonomic enhancements like anti-vibration technology, user-friendly controls, comfort grips and more compact and lightweight designs. Safety enhancements like onboard dust reduction (DR) systems and active torque control (ATC) systems help collect dust containing harmful silica, while ATC stops drill rotation when a bit jams to help prevent injuries. Other safety features on tools include the ability to instantly shut down tools like grinders if the operator quickly moves out of position in any direction.
Manufacturers across the country continue to strengthen their sustainability efforts. Some power tool manufacturers now have programs designed to collect customer batteries at the end of their life to avoid sending them to landfills and ensure they’re recycled properly. In 2021, Stanley Black & Decker and Eastman partnered to create a new line of sustainable power tools made with material created from recycled single-use plastic bottles and put in fully recyclable packaging.
Power tools are getting smarter due to increased integration with the Internet of Things. Today’s power tools feature smart technology like built-in Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to connect to smartphone apps to help track tools and equipment. Tool tracking with tracking tags can help locate missing or stolen tools or manage inventory. Connectivity can collect usage data and allow users to manage different settings through a smartphone app.
In recent years, major tool manufacturers have released lines of tools with brushless motors. This updated technology removes the friction between the conductors, typically brushes, that repeatedly contact the rotor to create the charge. The result is less friction, heat and longer motor life. They are more expensive than traditional brushed motors, so users must balance that with the benefits of the technology.
While no one knows what the future holds, by understanding the latest advances in power tool technology and materials, you’ll be better equipped to choose tools that best meet your safety, ergonomic and productivity demands.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.