lithium-manganese batteries for powertools
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Bringing power tools to the next level
Milwaukee Electric unveils new line
By RICK BARRETT
Posted: Jan. 12, 2005
Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. on Wednesday announced one of the company's
biggest technological breakthroughs in more than 80 years: a new line of
cordless power tools for carpenters, construction workers and other
Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation
13135 W. Lisbon Road
Brookfield, WI 53005
A Power Tool Breakthrough
Thomas James, director of new product development, measures the performance
of the 28-volt Sawzall reciprocating saw at Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp.,
13135 W. Lisbon Road, Brookfield, on Monday. The company called its new
cordless power tools the biggest breakthrough in its history.
When: The first 28-volt tools will be available in April.
What: Offerings will include a band saw, circular saw, reciprocating saw,
impact wrench, hammer-drill and work light. A cordless rotary hammer and
two-way radio will follow in 2006.
The 28-volt tools have more power than conventional 18-volt tools, and about
twice the battery life, according to the Brookfield-based company. They are
the first 28-volt models in the cordless tool industry, the company said.
Power-hungry band saws and reciprocating saws can now be cordless without
sacrificing much performance, said Joseph Smith, vice president of marketing
at Milwaukee Electric Tool.
"I would say it's the biggest breakthrough in the 81-year history of the
company because it involves an entire platform of tools," he said.
The demand for power and hand tools in the United States is expected to
increase 4.7% this year, to $14.2 billion, according to industry statistics.
"Basically, all of the growth in the power tool category has come from
cordless tools," Smith said.
The company spent more than $10 million developing the 28-volt tools, which
it claims are more powerful than anything in the 18-volt or 24-volt cordless
"Many close to the industry have said that higher voltages just were not
possible for cordless power tools without the additional weight that made
the tools impractical," Smith said. "We worked for nine years to prove them
Milwaukee Electric Tool says its breakthrough in cordless technology
resulted from a partnership with a Canadian battery company, using
lithium-manganese batteries to deliver high power and longer-lasting
The new tools have electronic circuits that control power levels. Even as a
battery gets close to the point where it has to be recharged, it continues
to deliver full power to the tool, according to the company.
The circuitry is as much of a breakthrough as the use of lithium batteries,
said Gary Meyer, Milwaukee Electric Tool research and development manager.
"Essentially, it optimizes battery performance by regulating the charging
and discharging of the battery," he said. Each battery comes with a "fuel
gauge" so that users know how much power remains.
Available in April
The company's first 28-volt tools will be available in April and will
include a band saw, circular saw, reciprocating saw, impact wrench,
hammer-drill and work light. In 2006, the company expects to add a cordless
rotary hammer and a two-way radio.
The 28-volt tools will cost about 40% more than 18-volt, professional-grade
tools, Smith said. The target market is professional users, but there are a
growing number of non-professionals who also want to buy these types of
tools, he added.
"If we market to the professionals, we know that we will get the high end of
the do-it-yourself crowd too," he said.
Most of the 28-volt tools will be made at the company's plants in Arkansas
and Mississippi. In 2002, the company eliminated several hundred
manufacturing jobs in Brookfield, transferring work to a new factory in
The 28-volt batteries are from E-One Moli Energy, of Vancouver, British
Columbia, and will be assembled at Milwaukee Electric Tool's plant in
The company is perhaps best known for the invention of the Sawzall, a
hand-held reciprocating saw used by many building trades professionals. The
28-volt, cordless Sawzall is almost as powerful as the corded model,
according to Smith.
Strong, consistent power is important to professionals who make their living
"I am a huge fan of cordless tools, but not in every application," said Joe
Weisling, training director at the Southeast Wisconsin Carpentry Training
Center in Milwaukee.
"I firmly believe there are certain cordless tools in use that, quite
frankly, can't deliver the performance of corded models," he said.
Milwaukee Electric Tool says its new 28-volt technology could have other
uses, such as lawn and garden equipment, home appliances and the military.