Hobbyists help shape power tool industry

Leisure activities build market growth

By Antoinette Price

Buffing, chiselling, drilling, levelling, planing, polishing, routing, sanding and screwdriving: power tools are used across industries such as automotive, infrastructure, construction, woodworking, aerospace, and electrical and electronics, but they are also very popular with lay users.

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Safety at home and on the job

As millions of non-professionals work on their houses and gardens it is particularly important to make sure the products they use are as safe as possible. IEC Technical Committee (TC) 116: Safety of motor-operated electric tools, prepares International Standards on the safety of power hand-held and transportable tools, as well as gardening appliances. (see article in this issue: Staving off the dangers of DIY)

A planet of DIYers

These days, hand-held motor operated electric tools and gardening appliances can be found in many homes. Though not new, the do-it-yourself (DIY) industry has continued to flourish over the last couple of decades. According to research by market analyst company ReportsnReports.com, the global power tool demand is forecast to increase 4.5 percent annually through 2016 to USD 28.1 billion.

One reason for this boom, particularly in developed countries, is the plethora of television shows, guiding users on everything from home improvements and maintenance to creating and keeping gardens, coupled with the explosion of thousands of online sites doing the same from around the mid 1990s.

While China has become the world’s dominant producer of power tools, which it supplies to regional markets as well as the US and Europe, the report also highlighted that other developing countries have risen as notable suppliers and users of power tools, though not to the same extent.

Improved technology, better tools

Advances in technology mean tools have become faster, lighter and more efficient, making them easier for amateurs to use. They cost less than previously, produce lower noise and emissions, anti-vibration features give users more control and balance while working.

An important innovation that came out a few years ago and has had a considerable impact on the industry is the brushless motor. This allows tools to stay cooler when they are running, last longer and deliver significantly longer runtime.

The future looks charged

Another highly significant change in the power tool industry has come with the improvement of lithium-ion batteries which have resulted in a new generation of cordless power products. Additional more intense power means more time working and less recharging. Some batteries also allow the tools to be operated in extreme conditions of heat or cold, for example, down to -18°C/0°F.

The work of IEC TC 21: Secondary cells and batteries, continues to help manufacturers increase battery efficiency, as well as make them more affordable for the greater public. Other innovations in the power tool world include:

  • wireless charging for certain power tools, using induction charging stations. These save time by charging faster, while the batteries take up less space.
  • improved ergonomics thanks to a slide-style battery pack. Product handles can be designed around the hand, not the battery, making the tool easier and more comfortable to use and transport.
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