Continuous Product Development…
It doesn’t keep me awake at night, but I do sometimes wonder how far Wera can go in its run of continuous product development that I have witnessed for at least 20 years. Cynics might suggest that it is development for development’s sake, but when you examine the details it is clear that there is always a sound reason behind any development – and most importantly, the Wera Tool-Rebels, the loyal band of followers, seem to agree.
As part of the new product launches for 2017, Wera has taken another close look at the use of driving bits and the requirements of the increased use of impact bits in many trade sectors. There have been reports of some impact bits splintering under impact loads and the splinters flying up into users’ faces. Just the sort of problem that Wera loves to understand and solve.
I am sure that many users, including myself, have used ‘standard’ Pozi and Torx drive bits available in bulk boxes at your local trade outlet, for many common tasks. We use them, they last as long as they last, and then you replace them and that is probably as much thought that most give to the problem. However, I have long been aware that some driver bits are better than others – ever since I lent a set of Wera bits to two tradesmen I shall call ‘Bodgit and Leggit’, who had a reputation for breaking almost any tool they ever used. Not only did I get the bit set back, but they had only used one bit each. The secret lay in the special diamond coating on the bit flanges that not even they managed to break. Some of the new bits I was sent for review use the same idea – so time for a close examination.
I shall start with the bit boxes. All of these have been redesigned for handy use, security and easy display at the point of sale. The boxes can be stood in a display box or hung on a hook on a display stand, and are clearly marked with a description, a graphic to show the bit point design, and a size – e.g. a big 2 if the bit concerned is a Pozi 2. All of them have a semi-transparent back so that you can see how many bits you have left. The boxes are sealed with a little red plastic clip that holds the sliding access lid closed until it is sold. The clips are not easy to spring open without a knife or screwdriver point, so should be secure in a retail display.
The box of ‘standard’ Pozi 2 bits are the ones that most trades would use in non-demanding screwdriving tasks and this is reflected in the price. However, the genuine Pozidriv profile and manufacturing techniques ensure much better than usual bit life.
Within the selection and going up a grade or two in the Pozi series are the Pozi 2 gold extra hard bits (BTH). The Bitbox notes the size clearly but also adds that these bits are extra hard (through hardened) and use the Take it Easy tool finder system for easy identification (black/Pozi; red/Phillips; green/Torx, yellow/slotted and blue/hex). Accordingly, each Pozi bit has a black band around the shank with a couple of white ‘2s’ on, so even without my glasses I could identify them easily. But the story doesn’t end here. Each bit has the Bitorsion feature on it. This means that the bits will respond to sharp inputs of torque by slightly flexing in the middle, and thus help to reduce breaking strains on the flanges. Since the bit is made to a harder Rockwell measure it is also better suited to the stresses put on it through typical timber applications using drill/drivers providing longer life.
It is a similar story on some of the other bits I looked at. For example, the box of size 25 Torx bits are marked with a green band bearing 25 around the shank. The box also tells me that they use the diamond gripping solution I mentioned before. If you run a fingernail through one of the Torx slots, you will feel the slight abrasion provided by the diamond coating that ensures long lasting grip on the fixing by eliminating cam-out. The bits are also labelled ‘impact proof’ – so users know exactly what they are to be used for.
The Bitholders are Important too
Included in the samples were four bit holders designed to work with the range of Wera bits for maximum performance, safety and longevity.
The first is a basic Rapidaptor bitholder. About 50mm long, that is perfectly suited to less demanding driving tasks. Its USP is its complete ease of use – simply push a standard hex bit into the chuck and it clamps it tight. With a single push upwards of the rotatable collar it ejects them just as easily. In my experience, a much better solution than straight bit holders.
More sophisticated is the longer Rapidaptor bitholder, with the Bitorsion feature built into the holder underneath the outer sleeve of the holder. Once again, this absorbs the extra torsion shocks of some of the powerful drill/drivers used nowadays. Some drivers boast torque ratings of over 135Nm – so you can understand the need for Bitorsion technology. Used with a Bitorsion bit there are a couple of extra layers of torsion safety.
What every regular user of impact drivers should consider are either the Wera Impaktor, or Impaktor with Ringmagnet bitholders. These are labelled as impact proof and just looking at the build quality might convince you of that. They both use Bitorsion technology and have magnets to hold the bits into place. The Ringmagnet version has a magnetic collar as well and is a great way to hold screws ready for driving, as the magnet is genuinely powerful enough to hold a 75mm screw securely as you lift it to the workpiece.
What you don’t see
Of course, what most users will never see is the trouble and effort made by Wera, at manufacturing level, to create bits and bitholders that have the right properties for the jobs they are designed to do. Bits that need to be harder than ‘standard’ are made of different compounds of metals and hardened separately to a different Rockwell value. It is in the detail that Wera delivers the range of bits, each subtly different for the jobs they do. The lesson for consumers? Choose your Wera bits and bitholders carefully – if you do you will most likely do a better job, with bits that last longer and perform better.