Friday, February 7, 2014

DeWALT - "Compact Thunder" - Drill Development Review

The DeWALT 9.6 volt cordless drill was developed as a compact replacement for the then current 9.6 drill that shared the same housings as the full size 18 volt. Its goal was to be competitive against Makita's 9.6 volt "stick pack" drill which dominated 80% of the low voltage drill market. (Stick pack referred to the battery pack that fit in the long handle.) In the first full year of production it 2000 captured $14 million in sales and with essential the same design with an over-molded grip has been on shelves up to 2013. The project name was "Compact Thunder".

CNC Model of the DeWALT 9.6 volt Cordless Drill

Below are some development sketches of the drill. This drill was designed as an entry level unit for the DeWALT brand and was designed to be rather plain compared to the higher end drills. But even with this design parameter, three distinctive design details emerged by making the housing as compact as possible to compete with the Makita's small design that made it easier to get into tight spots. The first are the two bumps  running longitudinally on the sides of the drill. These are localized bump outs to make room on the inside where screws join the motor to the gearcase. The normal practice was to make the housing a constant  cylinder shape that inclosed everything on the inside with no external details, but the internal screws were the only things needing to go out that wide so I developed the bumps to keep things compact. The other design detail is the channel coming off the back of the handle and running under the main body then up the back. The housing design was so tight to the motor that there was not enough room to run the lead wires to the motor so this channel was designed to carry the wires. A problem some uses have with drills is that their  lower thumb knuckle rubes against the main housing and gets sore, this channel moved the hand away from the housing enough to stop those issues. The final feature is the extension of the housing under the clutch collar. This was done so we could move the handle forward to balance the drill on its battery. This has now become a common theme on many DeWALT and other company drills.

 This next group of sketches shows development of the clutch collar details and bit holder solutions.

This rendering shows the final intended design. Some testing results and project scope changes led to the an additional screw being used to hold the back end of the housings together and the clutch collar was resigned to match an off-the-shelf chuck.

Marker Rendering of the DeWALT Project "Compact Thunder"

Below is pictured the final production unit with its European counterpart in the Elu brand colors. The Elu brand was eventual phased out and replaced with the DeWALT brand name. To see more power tool projects or see the design services I offer clients, visit  my website at Bullseye Design Worx.  You can also click on the labels to the right to search for specific projects or skills.

 Final Production Design - DeWALT 9.6 Cordless Drill