A quality impact tool is the total sum of its capabilities
Davidson, NC -- Impact tools are used every day within the vehicle service and repair industry. Choosing the right impact tool for the job is a simple process of matching the application with the proper torque level, tool configuration and features for the task at hand, said Eric Suro, national sales manager at Ingersoll Rand, with torque, durability, reliability, control, comfort, and weight distribution all factors to consider to get the right tool for the job.
“Evaluating an impact tool is really no different from most other product-buying decisions,” Suro said. “While torque is an important consideration, it isn’t everything, just like power isn’t everything for a car. If a car is only to be driven on the race track, power is a big consideration. But, a race car driver wouldn’t drive a car unless he or she felt it was also safe and reliable. The car needs to withstand grueling race conditions. Every element, from the engine mounts and frame, to the powertrain and tires, factor into making the race car perform at its peak level.”
Pneumatic and Cordless Impact Tool Mechanisms
Impact mechanisms are designed to provide the optimal performance for specific applications, with different tools having different mechanisms. At the heart of a pneumatic tool is its impact mechanism. One such mechanism is the twin-hammer, which affects every aspect of the performance of the tool.
“This type of mechanism is ideal when durability and the power-to-weight ratio are important,” he said. “An example includes truck servicing, in which unfastening large bolts requires a high torque level. With this design, when the clutch is engaged it directly links the motor with the outboard shaft, or anvil. This allows the operator to get a very fast run-down, or run-off, to the bolt, creating peak torque, while the operator experiences very little force.”
Many cordless impact tools use a ball and cam design; the camshaft and spring combination allow the motor to continue its rotation even when the hammer is stopped during impact, which reduces the current and allows the motor to operate more efficiently.
“This is particularly important for battery-operated tools, where a ball and cam mechanism can support a longer battery life and more runs per charge,” he said.
Cordless impact tools offer variable power levels, so a single tool can accomplish a variety of tasks that require different torque levels.
“For example, the Ingersoll Rand W5132 Impactool™ has 365 foot-pounds of maximum reverse torque and a weight of only 5.1 pounds, giving it one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any cordless impact tool on the market,” he said. “The tool offers four power control settings in forward, including max power, mid power, wrench tight and hand tight. Each setting operates at maximum reverse torque, so technicians don’t need to switch settings to remove a stubborn bolt.”
Truth in Torque
Because there are no industry standards for regulating torque measurement and testing, getting a one-to-one comparison between tools is challenging.
“There are many variables in a manufacturer’s torque testing, including set time, bolt size and air pressure that can affect the output of the test,” he said. “When selecting tools, look for a manufacturer’s internal testing that simulates real-world applications, and measures torque consistently – the same way, every time. Then, match the manufacturer’s published number with the job.”
Torque is rated in two different ways: maximum reverse torque and nut-busting torque.
“Maximum reverse torque is the torque developed after a certain period of run-time, with testing controlled by an air solenoid to maintain a time interval and remove human error,” Suro said. “Nut-busting torque applies to loosening a fastener and is the highest torque achieved when removing a fastener in under a certain period of run-time.
“Both ratings should be developed running multiple, precisely-timed tests under consistent and controlled conditions to get the best repeatability possible. Technicians put different demands on their tools, so it’s up to their discretion to determine which rating is more meaningful based on the work environment.”
Durable and Reliable for All-day Use in the Shop
Although not always apparent to the naked eye, the design and materials used affect a tool’s durability and reliability, and tools made with high-grade or heat-treated steel help minimize wear and tear and ultimately extend the life of the tool.
“The shell that houses the components should also be resilient,” Suro said. “Tool housings will be exposed to many chemicals and fluids in a shop. A tool that has been tested against various lubricants, detergents and solvents will ensure the impact tool housing resists degradation from these contaminants. For example, the Ingersoll Rand W5132 Impactool has a high-durability construction and composite housing that is chemical-resistant and features a patented steel-reinforced frame for optimal durability.”
Ergonomic Design that Takes it Easy on the Technician
An impact tool that is easy to operate and ergonomically designed makes a technician’s day-to-day work easier, more consistent and reliable and puts less stress on his or her body. A well-designed impact tool minimizes sound and vibration, and is easy to operate with only one hand.
“An impact tool operator may not face grueling racetrack conditions, but tool ergonomics can affect how long an operator can work safely and comfortably,” Suro said. “An efficient use of power-to-weight distribution will make the tool easy to handle for longer periods of time.”
Noise is also a consideration for technicians who use impact tools in close proximity, Suro pointed out, and the lightweight Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX Impact Wrench also features Quiet Technology that reduces the sound of the tool. “Technicians can appreciate a tool that is light in the hand, quiet on the ears and extremely powerful.”
Purchasing impact tools is an important decision based on many considerations, Suro said, with part of that decision process an investment in quality tools that match the diverse vehicle servicing applications, while helping improve productivity, margins, and to make work easier.
“For professional vehicle technicians, purchasing impact tools is an investment in their business. Technicians aren’t simply buying a tool to get a job done. When a technician acquires impact tools from a trusted and established manufacturer, they get quality, reliability, and tools that will last.”