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issue: August 2008 APPLIANCE Magazine

Manufacturing Technology
Filling the Gap

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A new industrial screwdriver gives production engineers the affordability of mechanical tooling with the flexibility of electronic tooling.

In addition to low cost and flexibility, the Minimat-ED screwdriver features integrated diagnostics such as motor testing in right and left rotation, testing of the shutoff function by the electromagnetic clutch, and signal verification to assure optimum process control. The rotational direction can be set by the push of a button and is verified by an animated display that is located directly on the screwdriver.

The Minimat-ED from Amberg, Germany–based Deprag (www.deprag.com) is said to be first screwdriver to combine an integrated electromagnetic shutoff clutch, torque setting by the push of a button, and a digital torque display located directly on the screwdriver housing. Juergen Hierold, head of sales, says the manufacturing solution directly answers an industry need. “The market was asking for flexible screwdrivers and acceptable prices,“ Hierold tells APPLIANCE.

While many production engineers prefer pneumatic screwdrivers because of their low cost, robust design, and high precision, Hierold says they fall short on flexibility. “Often, these tools require a rather complex adjustment procedure and countermeasuring to change and verify torque values,” he explains. “This is acceptable when setting the tool to a specified and unchanging torque value. It becomes awkward, however, when assembly parameters are changing.”

Electronically controlled screwdrivers, on the other hand, offer easy and fast torque adjustment. However, Hierold says these screwdrivers are expensive, and often “offer more than needed.” They also require an interface with an external controller to change torque values.

The new Minimat-ED is said to fill the gap left by current screwdriver options by using a digitally controlled integrated electromagnetic shutoff clutch. Operators simply connect the screwdriver with a power cable to a wall outlet. Torque is set by pushing a button to the required measurement on the screwdriver (in either Nm or in·lb). A digital display verifies the selected setting, and assembly begins by activating the trigger-start or the push-to-start.

According to Hierold, the screwdriver design required a clutch that was small, powerful, and controllable. “Electromagnetic clutches have been available in the industry for some time. However, these clutches are known to be large, weak, and hard to control—all features which are not supporting the idea of using this technology in handheld power tools,” he says.

By utilizing creative design techniques and reducing the controller size, the company met the challenge. “A digitally controlled, electromagnetic shutoff clutch was unknown as a possible solution for torque control in industrial screwdrivers,” Hierold says. “Deprag was successful in using new ways to find an alternative to known technologies.”

To ensure reliability, the screwdriver offers integrated diagnostics and a password protection option that eliminates involuntary parameter changes. The housing is made from a nonslip polyamide material and uses the company’s well-known “rounded square” shape to ergonomically fit the operator’s handgrip.

The tool can be used in tightening applications in industries such as electronics and medical devices. Specifically, it is ideal for use in rework areas with ever changing parameters such as in the manufacturing of controllers or control boxes, and most mass production applications. It may also be used in ESD environments.

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