How New Power Tools are Designed

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
It's hard to imagine home improvement without power tools. They enable us to work faster and safer and make possible professional quality results with less experience. Manufacturers are packing more and more features into today's power tools and offering them at lower and lower prices.

How do they do it? Well, I asked Jason Swanson, direct of product development for Techtronic Industries North America to tell me what it takes to bring a new power tool to market these days.
JASON SWANSON:
We're continually asking, how can we improve our products?
RON HAZELTON:
You know those registration cards that come with a new tool? Well, someone is listening to what you're saying.
JASON SWANSON:
Every two weeks, myself and the product managers look at these things.
RON HAZELTON:
Jason also collects input from groups of woodworkers around the country.
JASON SWANSON:
So we can then get feedback on -- on where to go next, and what they didn't like about our current product, and what they may have liked about their own current product, and how they could apply it to their projects.
RON HAZELTON:
Armed with input from computers and woodworkers, industrial designers set about creating conceptual renderings. These sketches are then converted into computer drawings that show the detailed relationship of each and every component.

How do you get from the computer drawing to something three-dimensional that somebody can actually hold in their hand?
JASON SWANSON:
The fastest way is to do wax.
RON HAZELTON:
This is wax.
JASON SWANSON:
Absolutely. A laser will go into this giant pool of -- of wax resin and heat it up, creating this hard shell surface and all the other particles fall away. So what you're left with is a quick representation of a 3D visual. Something you can put your hand on and get the feel.
RON HAZELTON:
A more accurate and detailed model is then made with a three dimensional printer that generates amazingly accurate forms in plastic.
RON HAZELTON:
So this could be made -- well, it actually does work -- so this could be made into a working one-off prototype right here.
JASON SWANSON:
Absolutely.
RON HAZELTON:
Right. Now at what stage would you send this back to somebody to actually try out and say, is this what, we got it here?
JASON SWANSON:
This is the stage right here.
RON HAZELTON:
This is the stage.

The prototype is then sent to a team of design engineers for some hands-on evaluation. The team judges everything from weight and balance to ease of use.

After a lot more testing and engineering, a tool like this ends up on the store shelf.  Now it’s this ability to go from computer to prototype, literally overnight, that’s enabled companies like Tektronix to offer more features, while at the same time cutting their development time in half, and lowering their prices.  In other words, better tools in less time, for fewer dollars.

Learn how new power tools are developed; watch a video interview with an industry professional about the many stages of tool development.

The process of turning an idea for a new power tool into reality is an interesting one, as Ron learns from Techtronic Industries' Jason Swanson.