According to ASSEMBLY magazine’s annual Capital Equipment Spending Survey, more than half of all U.S. assembly plants use some sort of threaded or unthreaded fastener to put together their products. Good thing, then, that The ASSEMBLY Show hosted some 38 suppliers of screwdrivers, nutrunners, screw feeders, torque-reaction arms, rivet guns and other fastening products.

The following are just some of the fastening tools you can see on the show floor.


Autofeed Screwdriver

Design Tool Inc. showed the DTI 5000 automatic inline screwdriver.

The systems are available in several different 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. 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.

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.

The drivers have an auto 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.

Design Tool Inc. is an authorized ARO distributor, and ARO pneumatic screwdrivers are installed on our standard inline systems. However, the system can accommodate almost any manufacturer’s screwdriver. The system can also be equipped with DC electric screwdrivers for customers who require greater control over the fastening process, as well as statistical analysis and reporting for quality control purposes.

A rugged PLC controls the feed mechanism and bowl, as well as various features on the screwdriver. The PLC features user-adjustable settings for the feed blow time, bowl run time, barrel retract and extend time, and driver shut-off time in drive-to-depth applications. These settings enable engineers to tailor driver performance to their exact application.

The driver assemblies are designed for ease of maintenance. The feed mechanism has only one moving part. Most systems have a ROI of six months or less.


Cordless Clutch Tools Are Precise, Ergonomic

Panasonic Assembly Tools featured the EYFGB Series of cordless clutch tools.

These precise, durable and ergonomic tools have a comfortable grip, are weight-balanced with minimal torque reaction, and weigh less than 3 pounds.

There are two battery options: a 2 amp-hour battery for applications where weight is a factor and a 4.2 amp-hour, lithium-ion, high-capacity battery for long run-time in high-volume applications. The lithium-ion batteries has built-in electronics that prevent overcharging and over-discharging, while maintaining accurate torque throughout the entire battery charge.

For long service life, the tool has a high-efficiency brushless motor, a hybrid trigger switch and an accurate, robust clutch. The hybrid switch allows the higher current draw of the motor and brake to be controlled by a separate circuit, bypassing the switch all together. In addition, the clutch was engineered for 1 million cycles.


Power Tool Controller

AIMCO showed the new AcraDyne Gen IV Controller, which enables manufacturers to simultaneously control a wide variety of power tools with just one cable.

The controller is compatible with more than 300 models of tools having a torque capacity from 0.05 to 8,100 newton-meters. As the core of the modular AcraDyne DC system, this controller enables a user to work in program mode with one tool, review real-time curves on another tool and watch diagnostics on a third. Its comprehensive software allows for easy adding and editing of parameter settings. The controller can store up to 10,000 rundowns, including curves.


Durable Pneumatic Riveting Tools

S-B Industries Inc. introduced the BZ103A and BZ123A pneumatic riveting tools to the North American market. Designed and manufactured in Germany by VVG Fasteners, the riveters are made from cast aluminum and wrapped in high-strength resin for durability in tough environments. Four nosepieces are conveniently stored in the base of the tool.

The BZ103A weighs 3.9 pounds and has a stroke of 18 millimeters. It accepts mandrels up to 3.4 millimeters in diameter. Producing a pull force of 11,700 newtons, it can set aluminum rivets from 2.4 to 5 millimeters in diameter, and steel, stainless steel and copper rivets from 3 to 5 millimeters in diameter.

The BZ123A weighs 5.1 pounds and has a 25-millimeter stroke. It accepts mandrels up to 4.8 millimeters in diameter. It produces a pull force of 18,700 newtons and can set aluminum and steel rivets from 4 to 8 millimeters in diameter. It sets stainless steel rivets from 4 to 6.4 millimeters in diameter and copper rivets from 4 to 6 millimeters in diameter.

The riveters have a high-capacity mandrel collector fed by an “energy-friendly” vacuum system. The operator can regulate the air used to eject the spent mandrel by turning a knob at the base of the tool. The vacuum can be on all the time; it can run intermittently (1- to 5-second intervals per set); or it can turn off when the tool is idle.

“Many riveting tools use a vacuum collection system for the mandrel, but there’s a cost associated with that,” says Michael Mervis, vice president of sales and marketing for S-B Industries. “This feature reduces the operating cost of the tool.”


Assembly Arms Improve Ergonomics, Prevent Errors

FlexArm Inc. showed its tool support arms.

Torque arms counterbalance tool weight and absorb torque reaction. Light-duty torque-reaction arms are available in nine models. The smallest absorbs up to 10 ft-lbs of torque and has a reach of 8 to 28 inches. The largest absorbs up to 30 ft-lbs of torque and has a reach of 18 to 37 inches.

Heavy-duty torque-reaction arms are available in 11 models. The smallest absorbs up to 50 ft-lbs of torque and has a reach of 11 to 34 inches. The largest absorbs up to 800 ft-lbs of torque and has a reach of 20 to 84 inches.

Torque-reaction and Posi-Control arms consist of horizontal and vertical linear slides. These arms absorb torque reaction and ensure that assemblers install nuts, screws, pins, bolts and rivets with proper perpendicularity. These arms can be equipped with positioning control encoders for error-proofing purposes.

Arms are available separately or paired with a Visumatic handheld screw feeding and driving system.


Tool Tracking Technology

Radix Inc. is exhibiting the Tool Tracker system, a product that combines high-resolution cameras with high-speed, vision-based tracking software.

Ford Motor Co. has been using the system since 2008 to achieve complete manual fastening traceability and assembly verification. The technology has improved Ford’s error proofing and provided the company with significant cost savings. Adaptable for any manufacturing operation, the product provides very accurate (within 1 millimeter) on-the-fly position information for torque guns and other hand tools.

The company also offers Link2Logic software, which allows access to, monitoring of and logic management for up to 1,000 devices on the assembly floor.


Cordless Riveters

Industrial Rivet & Fastener Co. showed the new FreeSet corldess riveters, which set rivets (model RK-777), rivet nuts (RK-787) and lockbolts (RK-797) at the same speeds and strength as pneumatic tools.

Innovative process controls tell users when a set is good or bad. The tool captures real-time data and features an onboard bar code reader so users can easily change functions and switch between projects. Depending on model, setting stroke is 0.3 or 1 inch; setting speed is 25 or 35 millimeters per second; and setting force is up to 3,370 or 4,000 pounds. The tool’s memory logs up to 150,000 rivets set.


Preset-Torque Screwdrivers

Mountz Inc. displayed the TLS Pro preset torque screwdriver, which ensures accurate and precise fastener installation by preventing it from being undertightened or overtightened.

An assembler uses a torque analyzer to preset the tool to the required torque value. This adjustment is internal and tamper-proof. There is no external adjustment scale—the tool must be preset using a torque analyzer.

During assembly, the tool disengages from the drive when the preset torque value is achieved. A precision radial ball clutch slips free when the preset torque is reached, preventing overtightening. Thrust bearings ensure that the torque setting is independent of any end-load applied by the operator.

Although typically used when only one torque setting is required, the screwdriver is flexible enough so an assembler can quickly change the preset torque (0.05 to 13.5 newton-meters).

All models provide bidirectional operation and are calibrated in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction.

Static-safe models are available. An optional accessory quickly converts the tool from a 0.25-inch hex drive to a 0.25-inch square drive. Engineers can quickly change the end-cap for color-coding identification of the preset torque value. End caps are available in black, red, green and blue.


Rivet Nut Setters

Vega Tool Corp. showed the new N1A2 rivet-nut setting tool from Lobster Tools.

It offers assemblers reliable fastening and a comfortable ergonomic design. The hydropneumatic tool has a maximum capacity of 0.5-inch or M12 rivet nuts and a spin-on feature that increases operator efficiency. It is 40 percent faster and weighs 20 percent less than the AN- 200A. This unit uses a single-lever operation to quickly and securely fasten M3 to M10 nuts. It runs quietly at just 85 decibels.


Ergonomic Arm

3arm America exhibited the Series 3 tool-support arm. Separate radial and tilting sections enable this arm to rotate 360 degrees so workers can more safely perform assembly and lifting. Because each section is a different length, the arm improves ergonomics so workers can reach multiple areas comfortably and do not experience early fatigue.

The arm handles a wide range of tools weighing up to 77 pounds, such as impact wrenches, nutrunners, magnet drills, scanners and welders. It also handles grinders and other devices used for deburring and offline machining operations.


Cordless Riveting Tool

Gesipa Fasteners USA Inc. showed the PowerBird cordless rivet gun.

With a setting force of 18,000 newtons, it can set standard blind rivets made from steel up to 4.8 millimeters in diameter or other materials up to 6.4 millimeters in diameter. It can set Bulb-Tite blind rivets up to 7.7 millimeters in diameter in all materials, as well as Mega Grip blind rivets up to 6.6 millimeters in diameter in aluminum and steel. It can also set G-Bulb and PolyGrip blind rivets up to 6.4 millimeters in diameter in all materials.

An ergonomic grip and well-balanced weight ensure fatigue-free operation. Evacuation of spent mandrels is gravity controlled, either forward through the nosepiece or backwards into a container. The immediate and automatic reset after each riveting process saves energy and speeds up operation.

The tool includes a plastic carrying case with one battery charger, one battery and four nosepieces (17/32, 17/36, 17/40, 17/45). A wrench is included in the tool for changing nosepieces.


High-Quality Hand Tools

Wera Tools is a German manufacturer of screwdrivers and other hand tools. The company’s product range includes screwdriver bits for every type of driver and fastener system. The bits are available with a wide range of hardness and coating options. Other products include preset and adjustable-torque screwdrivers and wrenches. Manual screwdrivers—including ESD-compliant products—wrenches, sockets, ratchets and L-keys round out the assortment.

Standard, insulated and miniature screwdrivers are available in six-piece sets. Screwdriver handles are marked with a screw symbol and the tip size for easy identification. A laser treatment provides a microrough surface on the tip of the blade for less slipping. Also available are bayoneting screwdriver and driver bit sets. Hex L-keys are also available in nine-piece metric sets and 13-piece standard sets. A limited lifetime warranty is available on all screwdrivers. Driver bits and hex keys have a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects.