Elektrowerkzeug Design CAD Konstruktion 3D Visualisierung Projekter Büro für Industriedesign Deutschland

tool design

What we learned from designing over 500 power tools.

As a tool manu­fac­tu­rer, you ask yourself: 
  • How can we impro­ve the hand­ling of our power tools?
  • How do we bring the per­for­mance "on the street" or in the workpiece?
  • Which design best appeals to our tar­get group?

Over the past 15 years we have dealt with count­less such ques­ti­ons. During this peri­od we have deve­lo­ped, impro­ved and laun­ched more than 500 power tools with our cus­to­mers. Many are curr­ent­ly in development.

What have we lear­ned from our work?
Which stumb­ling blocks need to be overcome?

Find out here.

Gut gemachtes Werkzeug erfüllt seinen Zweck

The cen­tral ques­ti­on we ask our­sel­ves when deve­lo­ping any tool is: What makes it a good product?

The ful­fill­ment of the task is of cour­se the top prio­ri­ty here. A cheap device from the dis­count has just as much jus­ti­fi­ca­ti­on as a high-end pro­fes­sio­nal tool.

The occa­sio­nal do-it-yourselfer who only wants to attach a shelf or hang up a few pic­tures usual­ly does not push a simp­le, inex­pen­si­ve drill to its per­for­mance limit. The vast majo­ri­ty of the­se devices eke out a little-used exis­tence in the clo­set or base­ment. The decisi­ve purcha­se cri­ter­ion here is the price-performance ratio.

In pro­fes­sio­nal use, on the other hand, effec­ti­ve­ness and speed are important. A fail­ure means an imme­dia­te loss of pro­duc­ti­vi­ty that must be pre­ven­ted. In this case, per­for­mance and robust­ness are paramount.

Die 5 wichtigsten Anforderungen im Werkzeugdesign

In the deve­lo­p­ment of our power tools, the same eva­lua­ti­on cri­te­ria appear again and again: Of cour­se, they are weigh­ted dif­fer­ent­ly accor­ding to the respec­ti­ve tar­get group.
The requi­re­ments can be divi­ded into the fol­lo­wing areas:

1. Reliable function creates occupational safety

Cus­to­mers often con­front us with pro­duct weak­ne­s­ses that need to be ana­ly­zed: dama­ged swit­ches, gear blocks that have bro­ken out of the housing, over­hea­ted devices.

It is often not just the engi­neers who ensu­re stron­ger mate­ri­als or bet­ter con­s­truc­tion. In many cases we can pro­tect them from dama­ge by cle­ver­ly pla­cing con­trols or sen­si­ti­ve components.

For exam­p­le, the use of shock-absorbing TPE (ther­mo­pla­s­tic elas­to­mer) in sen­si­ti­ve are­as can pre­vent the housing of a cord­less screw­dri­ver fal­ling from a lad­der from brea­king, for example.

On the other hand, a good coo­ling con­cept is extre­me­ly important, espe­ci­al­ly when grin­ding machi­nes are used for lon­ger peri­ods of time.

Intelligent design ensures durability and a high level of safety.

How can excess heat be dissipated efficiently? 

With well thought-out ven­ti­la­ti­on ope­nings plan­ned in the tool design right from the start, as well as, if neces­sa­ry, with high­ly heat-conducting metal parts, we can avo­id over­hea­ting wit­hout impai­ring the user during operation.

This brings us to the second aspect of safe func­tio­ning: occu­pa­tio­nal safe­ty. For each device, we ana­ly­ze the respec­ti­ve dan­ger are­as for the user.

The­se can be mini­mi­zed with a wide varie­ty of pro­tec­ti­ve hoods or safe­ty devices, such as multi-way swit­ches that can­not be trig­ge­red unintentionally.

We can also often increase the distance bet­ween the dan­ger area and the user inter­face and thus safe­ty by arran­ging the tech­ni­cal func­tion­al and ope­ra­ting ele­ments in an alter­na­ti­ve way.

Many such requi­re­ments for occu­pa­tio­nal safe­ty are spe­ci­fied in stan­dards and are taken into account accordingly.

Ergonomie sichtbar gemacht mit Grafik Werkzeugdesign CAD Konstruktion 3D Visualisierung Projekter Büro für Industriedesign Deutschland

2. Efficient work through intuitive ergonomics

Safe­ty is also achie­ved through good ergonomics.

I can only work safe­ly if a tool lies secu­re­ly in my hand.

Only when I can reach the con­trols whe­re I intui­tively expect them can I work in a con­trol­led and effi­ci­ent manner.

Only when I know what acti­va­ti­on sta­te my tool is in can I hand­le it safely.

To opti­mi­ze hand­ling, we pro­du­ce ergo­no­mic models eit­her by hand, using a 3D prin­ter or CNC mil­ling machine. 

Of course we have gained a lot of experience, but nothing beats trying it out.

Every new tool design has to be tes­ted; and pre­fer­a­b­ly from as many dif­fe­rent peo­p­le as pos­si­ble. We always check the ergo­no­mic requi­re­ments that the tar­get group or the inten­ded use specify.

  • Who ope­ra­tes the machine?
  • In what pos­tu­re does the acti­vi­ty take place?
  • Do you work with gloves?
  • What bur­dens ari­se for the user at work?

Taking into account sci­en­ti­fi­cal­ly and sta­tis­ti­cal­ly deter­mi­ned body mea­su­re­ments, we deter­mi­ne hand­le lengths and thic­k­nes­ses as well as the posi­ti­ons of ope­ra­ting ele­ments in order to ensu­re that work is as stress-free as possible.

Ergo­no­mics also includes the enti­re area of ope­ra­tor feed­back. The device must give me as much infor­ma­ti­on as pos­si­ble about ope­ra­ting opti­ons and its cur­rent status.

At best, this is done using pro­duct gra­phics that are language-neutral, cle­ar­ly reco­gnizable switch posi­ti­ons, tac­ti­le pres­su­re points and cle­ar­ly visi­ble sca­les, poin­ters, LED indi­ca­tors or displays.

3. Economical production

Eco­no­mic­al pro­duc­tion is par­ti­cu­lar­ly important for pro­ducts from the do-it-yourself (DIY) sec­tor. Power tools in hard­ware stores or dis­coun­ters are sold in the hundreds of thousands.

A mate­ri­al quantity-optimized design plays an important role here. In some cases, a sin­gle gram of mate­ri­al savings can deci­de whe­ther a pro­duct is mar­ke­ta­ble in a com­pe­ti­ti­ve environment.

But we also plan the cycle times in injec­tion mol­ding and the simp­lest pos­si­ble assem­bly from the start of the deve­lo­p­ment. The time win­dow for pro­duc­tion is often very limi­t­ed due to the plan­ned mar­ket launch date.

The tech­ni­cal pro­duc­tion pos­si­bi­li­ties of the respec­ti­ve manu­fac­tu­rer or sup­pli­er must be deter­mi­ned pre­cis­e­ly from the start and taken into account in the design. Espe­ci­al­ly when it comes to pro­duc­tion in Asia, you can­not always assu­me that the tech­no­lo­gy is state-of-the-art.

From the very first sket­ches of ide­as, we take into account, for exam­p­le, the demoul­ding direc­tions of the later pro­duc­tion tools. In this way we avo­id unneces­sa­ry cor­rec­tion loops and chan­ges in deve­lo­p­ment and mini­mi­ze the time to mar­ket (time to market).

4. Sustainable development

Eco­lo­gi­cal aspects also speak in favor of making the use of mate­ri­als as eco­no­mic­al as possible.

Espe­ci­al­ly with lar­ge quan­ti­ties, every gram of mate­ri­al saved or the avo­id­ance of poten­ti­al­ly harmful sub­s­tances is an important goal in the inte­rest of the envi­ron­ment and health and is now being pur­sued very con­sis­t­ent­ly by all our customers.

Howe­ver, sus­taina­bi­li­ty in deve­lo­p­ment also means brin­ging the respec­ti­ve pro­duct onto the mar­ket only when it is matu­re. Qua­li­ty manage­ment plays a spe­cial role here.

During deve­lo­p­ment, we repea­ted­ly check whe­ther plan­ned mea­su­res and design details also ful­fill their respec­ti­ve pur­po­se and lead to an impro­ve­ment in the pro­duct. Pro­to­ty­pes and pre-production samples are used for control.

This is the only way for the finis­hed pro­duct to exist in the mar­ket for as long as pos­si­ble and not have to be repla­ced pre­ma­tu­re­ly by an impro­ved successor.

Understand product families as a series right from the start

Power tools are usual­ly part of an enti­re pro­duct fami­ly or series. When deve­lo­ping a new design, we the­r­e­fo­re recom­mend buil­ding the tool design direct­ly as a series with seve­ral repre­sen­ta­ti­ve fami­ly members.

This is the only way to deve­lop design ele­ments that can be appli­ed to a wide varie­ty of device topologies.

The­re are sta­tic as well as dyna­mic machi­nes, hand-held or sta­tio­na­ry, lar­ge or small, elon­ga­ted or com­pact con­s­truc­tions. The design should be appli­ca­ble and, abo­ve all, reco­gnizable for all cases with their dif­fe­rent peculiarities.

For each indi­vi­du­al pro­duct, fami­ly affi­lia­ti­on should be cle­ar­ly visi­ble to increase brand iden­ti­ty. Start­ing the design deve­lo­p­ment with just a sin­gle pro­duct and con­ti­nuing it in the same way requi­res a gre­at deal of adjus­t­ment work after­wards in order to achie­ve a uni­form appearance for a pro­duct family.

We the­r­e­fo­re recommend:

Do the right thing from the begin­ning! 

Heimwerkerwerkzeug Parkside Werkzeugdesign CAD Konstruktion 3D Visualisierung Projekter Büro für Industriedesign Deutschland

5. Target group-oriented design

We indus­tri­al desi­gners do not design for our­sel­ves or our port­fo­lio. Nor do we design for our cus­to­mers and their pre­fe­ren­ces. If we real­ly want to deve­lop a suc­cessful pro­duct, we have to ser­ve the tar­get group you – our cli­ent – have in mind with our design decisions.

In most cases, the­se are the later end users or expe­ri­en­ced buy­ers. This tar­get group's expec­ta­ti­ons of the device should ide­al­ly be visi­bly met by its exter­nal appearance. Pro­fes­sio­nal func­tions, dura­bi­li­ty, robust­ness, light­ness, easy clea­ning, intui­ti­ve ope­ra­ti­on, but pos­si­bly also cer­tain fashion trends are pro­per­ties that can be visua­li­zed through tar­ge­ted pro­duct design so that ever­yo­ne under­stands them intui­tively. Craft­smen, high-tech com­pa­nies, occa­sio­nal do-it-yourselfers, ambi­tious DIY­ers, women (smal­ler hand­les, ligh­ter devices...) or child­ren (opti­cal refe­ren­ces to topics from the playful envi­ron­ment) all have their own requi­re­ments for a tool.

For exam­p­le, the purcha­ser of a high-tech bone saw in a hos­pi­tal will gene­ral­ly pre­fer a clean tool design with extre­me­ly intui­ti­ve user gui­dance. This gives the phy­si­ci­an the impres­si­on of good clea­ning and dis­in­fec­tion sui­ta­bi­li­ty and secu­ri­ty against incor­rect ope­ra­ti­on.
A craft­sman might want to be able to quick­ly find his cord­less screw­dri­ver on a con­fu­sing con­s­truc­tion site or pre­vent it from slip­ping off a slo­ping roof. He'll pre­fer a bright­ly colo­red device with shock-absorbing rub­ber bumpers.


We have gai­ned a lot of expe­ri­ence in desig­ning around 500 power tools. Only the cri­ti­cal review of the tech­no­lo­gy packa­ge and the deve­lo­p­ment of intui­ti­ve ergo­no­mics later enable safe and effi­ci­ent work and a suc­cessful product.

You, as the cli­ent, must also make the right stra­te­gic decis­i­ons in order to deri­ve the grea­test pos­si­ble bene­fit from the design deve­lo­p­ment for your company. 

Machi­nes will beco­me incre­asing­ly intel­li­gent in the future. The ent­ry of IT into the power tools area has long sin­ce begun. Com­bi­na­ti­ons with mea­su­ring tech­no­lo­gy, smart­phones with app con­trol and radio tech­no­lo­gy alre­a­dy enable fine tuning, sta­tis­ti­cal eva­lua­tions, increased secu­ri­ty and pro­tec­tion against theft on the con­s­truc­tion site. This deve­lo­p­ment will continue.

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