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Getting a grip on power tools. (Materials: Application Xtra).

* withstands shop abuse

* cushions against vibration

Sioux Tools, of Sioux City, IO, has been providing tools for industry for close to 90 years. Barely out of their first decade, the company introduced some of the first hand-held power tools in the 1920s, and air-powered tools in the late 1950s. Now a part of Snap-On Inc., the company continues a tradition of smart tool design.

A recent introduction into the Sioux line was a Model 890 pneumatic random orbital sander, favored in shops such as auto repair for prepping surfaces before painting. The high-vibration movement transmitted by this type of sander, however, induces fatigue in an operator's band and wrist after a short time. What was needed was a grip that could absorb the action of the sander, while being comfortable and durable. Rob Hartman, product engineering manager, was handed the task.

"From my own prior experience with the Snap-On group, I contacted EEZER Products for a proposal," says Hartman. EEZER produces a closed-cell PVC foam with a proprietary process. "We sent several iterations back and forth to the company, and what was finally produced was a closed-ended cylinder that could be slipped onto the sander without tearing." Not only did the EEZER foam stand up to production line hands pulling it into place past fittings, but it also could be handled in the field as a replacement part if it was ever damaged.

Compared to overmolded grips, the foam grip for the sander was both replaceable and less expensive to produce. And there were other benefits. The passage of air through tools causes a temperature drop along its path, chilling the surrounding tool. The EEZER foam proved to be effective as a thermal insulator, so a worker could operate the sander for an extended time without resorting to gloves. The PVC foam is non-absorbent -- dirt and oils could be easily cleaned away. Highly abrasion-resistant, the smooth surface was non-slip in adverse conditions, even improving with use.

As Rob Hartman points out, "The grip wore very well, and was surprisingly durable in the field."

For more information: EEZER Products Inc, Fresno, CA.

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Publication:Designfax
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:358
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