As much as manufacturing engineers might want to reduce or even eliminate threaded fasteners from assemblies, they remain the most popular method for product assembly. They create strong joints. They join dissimilar materials. And, most importantly, they allow the product to be disassembled for service or recycling.

According to ASSEMBLY magazine’s annual capital equipment spending survey, 48 percent of assembly plants install threaded fasteners of some kind. In addition, power tools are the most common assembly technology that factories will buy this year. Some 68 percent of assembly plants will purchase impact wrenches, cordless screwdrivers, DC electric nutrunners and other power tools in 2015.

If you’re one of those facilities, you would have found plenty of interest at The ASSEMBLY Show. At least 22 suppliers of fastening tools and accessories exhibited at the show, as well as four suppliers of threaded and unthreaded fasteners.

The following is a sampling of some of the innovative new fastening technologies on display at the show.


Cordless Impact and Drill Driver

Panasonic Assembly Tools showed the EY7549X cordless multi impact and drill driver.

This lightweight tool transforms from a drill and driver to an impact driver or wrench with the flick of a switch. Engineers can use the impact mode for driving screws and fastening nuts and bolts with high speed and high power. The drill driver mode features two speeds and delivers drilling and driving capability with a 21-stage clutch for precise control.

Weighing only 4.5 pounds with the battery pack, this compact tool delivers high power (1,327 in-lb, 3,200 ipm) with minimal kickback to the user. It features a one-touch release for instant removal of the keyless chuck.

The tool is compatible with all of Panasonic’s 14.4-volt lithium ion or lithium nickel battery packs. The EY9L45B 4.2Ah lithium-nickel battery pack delivers high output with low heat generation, resulting in longer life and extended run time.

The tool uses Panasonic’s GuardION system, which monitors each battery cell during battery charging and during tool use to prevent over-discharging and overheating of the battery pack. This helps prolong long life.

The tool uses a self-diagnostic universal battery charger that electronically monitors the condition of each battery cell in the pack during the charging process to deliver full charging with minimal heat generation.

The tool is sold as a tool body only and includes the removable 0.5-inch keyless chuck and 0.25-inch hex quick-change adapter. The tool is rated at IP561 for dust protection and water resistance.


Torque Arm Positions Tools

ASG, Div. of Jergens Inc., showed a linear torque arm for supporting pneumatic or electric inline screwdrivers. It absorbs torque, reducing the potential injury to the operator’s arm, wrist or hand.

Designed for vertical screwdriving applications, the torque arm has a linear slide that provides smooth motion. The arm is built from machined stainless steel. Multiple ball bearings and side-by-side slides provide stability for horizontal extension and retraction of tools weighing up to 5 pounds and generating up to 150 in-lb of torque. The arm can be moved up and down, in and out, and a full 360 degrees radially side-to-side. Each arm is provided with two spring balancers that can support 1 to 3 pounds.

It has a maximum reach of 26.75 inches and a standard height of 46 inches. Tool mount couplings are available for lever-start tools.


Cordless Shut-Off Clutch Screwdrivers

Delta Regis Tools Inc. exhibited the ESB6 series cordless screwdrivers. These drivers use the same precision shut-off clutch technology that is the foundation of the company’s corded electric screwdriver line. High-performance 18-volt lithium ion batteries provide plenty of power and long run times between charging cycles.

The tool’s 18 VDC brushless motor requires no maintenance. A precise shut-off clutch provides excellent repeatability. The tool covers a torque range of 1 to 22 newton-meters.

The tool has a high-low speed selection switch and a slide switch for selection of forward and reverse rotation. The clutch operates in the counterclockwise direction at approximately 30 percent higher torque level than the clockwise setting. Versions are available with either internal or external clutch adjustment.

Green and red LEDs and audible indicators alert operator of proper clutch function at shut-off. A green LED and short beep confirm that the tool has shut-off correctly. A red LED and long beep signal an incorrect cycle. A front-facing LED illuminates the fastening area when the trigger is pulled.

To conserve battery life, the screwdriver goes into sleep mode when idle for more than 3 seconds. An LED indicator warns operator of low battery capacity. The red LED will flash when 20 percent capacity remains and light continuously at 10 percent.

Bit holder accepts 0.25-inch hex power bits; an optional square drive available.


Automatic Screwdriving System

The DTI 5000 automatic inline screwdriving system from Design Tool Inc. is available in several configurations, including standard, rigid, retracting barrel and counterbore tip designs. These machines are custom-designed for vertical applications with the nosepiece jaws fitting the customer’s part.

The inline screwdriver assemblies can be designed for a wide range of applications and fastener types, including screws, bolts, nuts, pins or nails. The standard screw feeder system cycles quickly, delivering screws in less than 1 second in many applications.

It has an automatic timed shut off feature, which reduces wear on the feeder bowl and increases unit efficiency. The system automatically shuts off if it is not cycled for 7 to 8 seconds, but restarts when the operator drives another screw.

The rigid units maintain contact between the bit and the fastener to locate the screw in predrilled or misaligned holes. The retracting barrel feature is offered in both rigid and nonrigid designs. This system retracts the barrel fully when the driver starts, so that the driver components do not contact the work surface when the screw is driven. The counterbore tip designs are ideal for screws located in counterbored or recessed holes. These drivers can accommodate various counterbore hole depths.

The systems are offered with an automatic shut-off clutch to maintain the correct fastener torque while reducing operator fatigue due to torque reaction. These systems are also available in a drive-to-depth configuration, in which the fastener is driven to a specific depth rather than a set torque value. Many applications benefit from this feature, as the depth can be controlled rather than relying on the operator to stop the driver at the correct fastener depth.

Standard inline systems are equipped with ARO pneumatic screwdrivers. However, Design Tool can build on almost any manufacturer’s screwdriver. Units can also be equipped with DC electric screwdrivers.

The screwdriver includes a rugged PLC controller that controls the feed mechanism and bowl, as well as various features on the screwdriver. The PLC enables engineers to adjust settings for blow feed time, bowl run time, barrel retract and extend time, and driver shut-off time in drive-to-depth applications.

The driver assemblies are designed for ease of maintenance. The feed mechanism has only one moving part.


Wireless Power Tool

This cordless angled nutrunner from Desoutter Industrial Tools features a WiFi module that communicates wirelessly to a CV13 controller, enabling assemblers to work without trip hazards caused by cords. The module sends tightening data to the controller, which provides full traceability. Lightweight and ergonomically designed, the tool features a slim angled head that fits easily into hard-to-reach joints. Also standard is a smart HMI with organic LED technology.

The tool can be programmed to decrease final rundown speed to ensure tightening quality. Starting speed can be decreased to facilitate bolt engagement.

The tool has a one-touch reverse button and offers left-hand or right-hand operation. Models are available with a torque range of 1.5 to 45 newton-meters.

The tool automatically issues a maintenance alert every 250,000 cycles for 36-volt tools or every 500,000 cycles for 18-volt tools.


Electric Nutrunner Is Accurate, Ergonomic

The CC-ErgoSpin electric nutrunner from Bosch Rexroth Corp. has been designed according to the latest findings in ergonomics. The lightweight tool has an ergonomic handle and an optimum arrangement of operating and display elements. In the GripLine and SlimLine models, the angle head has a non-interchangeable code and can be turned and locked in 15-degree steps.

Especially designed for B-tightening operations according to the VDI/VDE 2862 standard, the nutrunner determines the required torque via current control.

The user operates and programs the tool via intuitive software. The software also includes statistical tools for detailed analysis of tightening results. The tool stores 99 tightening programs that can be assigned to a specific component via a bar code scanner. The tool can thus replace several pneumatic nutrunners, which saves space and cuts costs.

Compared with pneumatic tools, this electric tool cuts the total cost of ownership in half and uses up to 95 percent less energy.

Four sizes are available with working ranges from 2.4 to 40 newton-meters and output speeds of up to 1,090 rpm.

The nutrunner has been tested under full load to run for 1 million cycles without maintenance. Its ergonomic handle design and low-vibration operation reduce operator fatigue. It is also quieter than pneumatic nutrunners.


Cordless Tool Is Precise

Ingersoll Rand has designed a new cordless fastening tool that delivers closed-loop, multiconfiguration control for precision fastening. The QX Series cordless precision screwdriver has eight user-programmable torque, angle and speed configurations, allowing one tool to do the job of eight, reducing cost and workspace clutter.

The compact, cordless tool gives operators the freedom to work without constraints. The lightweight, low-reaction, ergonomic tool maximizes operator safety and comfort. Programmable speed and closed-loop transducer control ensures quick assembly, precise torque and accurate, traceable results. Unlike a clutch tool, this screwdriver displays fastening results at the end of every cycle on a user-friendly screen to help operators track the results of every job.

The screwdriver has the versatility to tighten multiple product joints with one tool and can be used on wood, plastic and steel materials. It provides access to all of the essential fastening features of a closed-loop transducerized system, and because the control is built in, a costly external controller is not needed. The wireless communication option delivers process control with I/O, automatic configuration switching and real-time data archiving for up to 10 tools per process communication module.