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How To Choose The Best Pneumatic Tools For Metalworking?

August 17, 2023

expert article - cost and productivity - overview

Price is an important consideration when choosing a tool for metalworking applications such as grinders, sanders, pistol drills and so on, but it alone should not be the deciding factor on which you can rely to choose the best pneumatic tools. Other things also contribute to the total cost of ownership, performance, and, ultimately, the overall productivity.

expert article - long icon red - ergonomics


One of the key things to look out for is the ergonomics of the tool, specifically the following aspects:  

1. Power To Weight Ratio

The power to weight ratio affects how long an operator can handle the tool over a given period, the speed of material removal, and the operator’s well-being. If you are hesitant between two tools, the power-to-weight ratio is essential to choose the best air tools for your needs. Chicago Pneumatic’s CP3650 angle grinder  , for example, weighs only 2.2 kilos but delivers a power of 1,800W to maximize productivity.

2. Vibrations

Limiting the vibrations that the worker is exposed to when handling the tool is crucial for well-being and productivity. Excessive vibration can lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), which, in the worst case, can result in total loss of sensation in hands, permanently disabling the operator. Selecting anti vibration tools with features that reduce vibration and stabilize the tool, such as autobalancers, help make it safer to use for extended periods, increasing the material removal rate by up to 15 percent.

Célia Esnault- Global Product Marketing Manager at Chicago Pneumatic

Determining the vibration level and duration of exposure of a tool helps assess the potential risk of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) for an operator. By opting for tools with low vibration levels, assessing work patterns, and utilizing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) like ear defenders, it is possible to reduce both vibration and noise.

Célia Esnault , Global Product Marketing Manager at Chicago Pneumatic

3. Weight

With some hand tools weighing over five kilos, weight is an important consideration when comparing tools. Can the operator handle the tool for hours at a time? The weigh value can be found in the manufacturer’s catalog, but the operator should always test the tool to ensure its suitability. On paper, weight can be a deceptive value: an ergonomic design can make a heavier tool easy to handle, minimizing the physical strain on the operator.

4. Design

Additional tool’s features and accessories can contribute to the performance and maneuverability of the tool. For example, tools with an ergonomic handle design can reduce vibration, while those with a curved head can deliver better weld bead visibility to optimize precision. 

Moreover, incorporating sound insulation as a design feature can significantly reduce noise levels emitted by the tool, enhancing the working environment and minimizing the risk of noise-related health issues. By integrating an effective insulator into the tool's construction, workers can experience improved comfort and productivity while maintaining a quieter workspace.

expert article - long icon red - safety


The right tool can also help reduce the risk of accidents, safeguarding productivity. Many tools from Chicago Pneumatic, for example, feature a two-position safety trigger, which can be adapted to the operator’s grip above or below the housing to reduce the risk of their hands slipping. Governed air grinders, especially when featuring an overspeed shut-off,are also a good way of managing both safety and productivity. The best hand tools maintain maximal speed to optimize material removal rates while protecting the operator from the damage caused by abrasive bursts.


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expert article - long icon red - maintenance


As the industrial maintenance cycles and requirements vary between tools, comparison can be challenging. The most important feature to look for is the maintenance interval, which shows how many hours you can use the tool before maintenance is recommended. Knowing and maintaining the maintenance requirements is crucial for ensuring the best performance and preserving the specifications, such as power and speed, that contribute to productivity.

Célia Esnault- Global Product Marketing Manager at Chicago Pneumatic

To determine the most suitable tool for your needs, consider the following three key questions: 1. What specific task will you be performing with the tool – grinding, cutting, or drilling? 2. What size and material of abrasive is required for your intended application? 3. Will the tool be utilized for extended periods of time? By seeking guidance from reputable manufacturers, you can obtain valuable insights, ask pertinent questions, and identify the tool that is most capable of meeting your requirements.

Célia Esnault , Global Product Marketing Manager at Chicago Pneumatic

As the above points highlight, several features can contribute to productivity and long-term cost-efficiency. Reviewing the requirements and finding the tool that is the best match for the application, and the operator's needs, will help you make the most out of your investment. 

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