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What is the Difference Between Transducer Screwdrivers and Clutch Electric Screwdrivers?

Searching for the right tool for the job calls for many factors, and electric screwdrivers are no exception. There are a number of things to consider if you are comparing the many types of screwdrivers on the market, including operational needs, the type of job you are doing, and so on. The parts that operate a screwdriver are important to examine since they will interface with the workplace environment in some way or another. It will need to be compliant with safety regulations first in order to do its assigned task. This basic rule of thumb is commonplace for assembly lines, repair shops, contract manufacturing, and other industrial applications. The tool will also need to be reliable in order for the structure that it builds to hold together according to its intended use. 

In this article, we will be looking at transducer screwdrivers and clutch electric screwdrivers. We will go over what to look for when deciding between the two. One kind of screwdriver is not necessarily better than the other. The best tool has to do with the task it will perform for the needs of the business. Torque and clamping force are also necessary to consider. Here we will identify the difference between a transducer screwdriver and a clutch electric screwdriver. We will review what the differences between the two mean, and what to know in order to make an informed decision.

Electric Torque Screwdrivers

Clutched technology versus transducer technology.

A clutched screwdriver is the standard form of screwdriver and can is found in most assembly houses and manufacturing floors.  The clutch is the main component that allows the screwdriver to apply torque in order to drive the screw into the material. Manufacture industry experts recommend purchasing clutched screwdrivers from business-to-business supply merchants rather than from the big box hardware retailers for professional assembly and disassembly applications. Commercial grade screwdrivers are much better suited for the job. Unlike regular retail tools, they are designed to meet consistent results and industry safety standards.

Many subtypes of clutched screwdrivers on the market have been developed over the years. They include electric torque screwdrivers, air torque, cordless torque, and more. Each one has its own set of pros and cons. Some types of clutched screwdrivers are made to give the user more mobility, while others apply a differential pressure gauge. 

In a broad-stroke description, transducer screwdrivers are the “smart tools” of the assembly world. They have intricate computerized technology built into the tool components to sense the pressure of the material, record the data, deliver the precise torque that is called for, and so on.  Perhaps the greatest distinction of a transducer screwdriver is that it can be setup via a user interface to control and report back on all aspect of the fastening process.  

What is the programmable function and how does this feature work?

Some clutch screwdriver models have been updated with limited programmable functions.  These functions include remote start and stop, some data capture, and screw counting.   Clutched screwdrivers are not able to have their torque or RPM controlled by a remote interface.  The capability of a screwdriver being programmed does not determine the quality of its torqueing performance. Rather, the necessity of programmable screwdrivers is determined based on its task to fulfill business needs. If a manufacturer is in the market for clutch screwdrivers with demanding requirements like RPM and torque changes for fastening operation then a true programmable model will likely be required.   For light functionality like remoted stopping and starting, torque readout, or slow start the EA-BN series Torque Readout Screwdrivers maybe a good choice.  These programmable features are available when a Sumake clutched screwdriver is used in tandem with Sumake’s Torque Readout System.  Sumake’s Torque Readout System is a great solution for applications looking for remote control of a screwdriver performing basic assembly applications.  These tools do not provide angle tightening, variable RPM or variable torque during a fastening process.   

How do you know if a programmable screwdriver is the best fit for your needs? Taking a look at what your company needs will provide some context. Here are some key questions to ask:

  • Do you need to control the RPM as a fastener is inserted?
  • Do you have an application that requires multiple torque settings? 
  • Are you going to use the screwdriver in a clean-room environment?
  • Do you want to capture torque readings for training and documentation purposes?
  • Do you need the screwdriver to perform in an application that is precise… such as an assembly line or a circuit board assembly integration?
  • Do you have a multi step fastening process?

In contrast to clutch screwdrivers, all transducer screwdrivers come with complete programmable capabilities. These high-tech tools can be computer programmed as standalone units or you can program multiple units in an automated assembly network. They have highly sophisticated features that deliver even more options than the readout system for the clutch type. Some examples include a torque graph display, security, variable torque and RPM settings, true data recording, job level setups and much more. A transducer screwdriver can switch back and forth between multiple programs so that it can achieve different torques while working on the same application. 

Recording the data for torque and how it can be used. 

The measurement of torque data is one of the most vital actions in manufacturing assembly applications. Recording torque provides the essential documentation that industry professionals need to meet safety standards. It ensures factory staff that the correct amount of torque is applied in each application. If the fastener is secured too loose, the pieces may come apart unexpectedly. Too tight, and the fastener can break from overexerted pressure. With software that can read and record torque data, the user does not have to guess. They can track the history of previous screw applications and compare the data on the torque readout’s easy-to-see display.

Torque data recordings can also be used for staff training and development purposes. The operator can review the data provided to learn important information about fastening the material, mastering the use of the tool, reaching the target torque value, to name a few. They can also review any deviations from the set torque value to determine the course of action in order to improve the outcome. 

Thanks to innovations in manufacturing technology, the practice of recording torque data has become widespread. The torque accuracy of fasteners is critical to consumer safety. Especially in the auto, aerospace, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries. The manufacturing of marine products and white goods also relies on small torque margins. If the improper torque measurement is applied to a product, it exposes the company to a risk that could damage its reputation. Torque data records help to catch these errors early on so the company can take immediate corrective action. The screwdriver in question may be calibrated, repaired, or replaced as deemed necessary to remedy the problem.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of a torque recording program is its ability to measure and diagnose torque variances with little interruption in the production process. Measurements are taken after each application on the job. The company can also evaluate these measurements in the computer program without interrupting the flow of production. For example, a manufacturing plant can perform routine audits at random points in production.  This helps to assure that the safety and performance goals are met on the floor. This information is typically accessible within the company database system. 

Changing the settings for torque and revolutions per minute (RPM).

The methods of changing torque and RPM settings vary widely depending on the specific model of the torque screwdriver. In most cases, transducer screwdrivers can be programmed to change torque and RPM settings on the spot. The changes are typically adjusted in the accompanying computer program. Transducer screwdrivers have the ability for the user to set torque configuration settings by the job and the fastener. This is done through adjustments made in a fastener profile through the computer system. Multiple fastener profiles can be entered and saved into the system for quick customization. These changes can also be protected by the system’s security capabilities so unauthorized users cannot change the settings. The tight deviation variance is also very good, about two percent. In this way, transducer screwdrivers are a dependable asset in the company’s production tool lineup. 

There is a much greater variance in the capabilities of changing torque and RPM settings with clutch screwdrivers. Some model series have dual RPM while others do not. The torque range of clutch screwdrivers is broad and wide. For example, direct plug-in screwdrivers carry a range of 5 – 39 in-lbs, which premium brushless screwdrivers are much more at 0.07 – 442 in-lbs. This variance shares with each pistol, angle, and inline subtype. 

Final thoughts.

The choices between clutch and transducer screwdrivers are indeed broad and well detailed. As previously mentioned, transducer models are more defined but offer many more sophisticated abilities than does a standard screwdriver. Clutch screwdrivers may not deliver the same offering portfolio, but there are many subtypes that provide various needs to the user depending on the application. You can unlock significant savings and value with the right clutch screwdriver model that fits your business needs. 

We also saw how transducer screwdrivers can record torque data in their built-in computer systems. And, how that data can be shared and utilized within the company. While some clutch electric screwdriver models do not have this recording ability, they can work in tandem with separate computerized torque readout systems to essentially achieve the same goals. Thus, one type of torque screwdriver is not necessarily better than another. The best screwdriver tool largely depends on what the user needs in order to achieve the intended application in the best way possible.

To learn more information about how clutch electric screwdrivers or transducer screwdrivers can work in your business, contact our knowledgeable staff at Express Assembly. You can call us at 1-888-863-2302 during regular business hours. Or contact us anytime online. We look forward to working with you to help you meet your goals.