While smartphones seem to battle for larger and larger displays every year – they’re an anomaly. Technology on the whole has been consistently shrinking since the 1961 invention of the microchip. Now, as nanotechnology leads us to the next major precipice for innovation, it seems our appetite for ‘smaller’, ‘lighter’ and ‘faster’ has no limit. And compact power tools have followed suit.
The race to the shortest drill driver barrel.
Brushless motor technology has transformed the power tool industry, making today’s handheld tools sleeker and smaller than ever. By replacing conventional brushes and commutators with electronic circuit boards, the weight and size of a tool can be dramatically reduced. As lithium-ion batteries keep shrinking, the number of cells and AH (amp hour) we can fit in a small area exponentially increases too. We’ve come to expect longer run time, and increased power, in much more compact housing.
But is it always a good thing to shrink tools?
The short answer is yes, and here’s why:
Their ultra light weight and size make them functionally more comfortable for use over extended periods of time
They take up less space in a tool kit, bag or on a workbench. Smaller drills lead to smaller impact drills, saws, grinders – reducing the size and weight of the average toolkit
In both senses of the word, they increase ability to reach into tight spaces, while adding market appeal to a broader range of users, from trade professionals to the average DIY enthusiast
Good design and engineering allows more features to be packed into a smaller space, and results in other positive outcomes like improved grip and COG (centre of gravity).
- Environmental impact
Compact tools are greener. Low maintenance, often rechargeable, and requiring a fraction of the material usage in production – they create a positive flow on effect to packaging and shipping
But shouldn’t we be worried about packing ever more powerful motors and electronics into smaller packages? Well, no. Design optimisation has come a long way. Parts can be downsized, and materials changed without affecting performance, reliability, or safety. Well-designed compact tools also negate the issue of thermal mass, with modern motors efficiently dissipating heat without the forced cooling systems of the past.
Compact power tools aren’t simply a smaller version of their older counterparts, they’re fundamentally a better product.
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