Canadian Manufacturing

The right tool for metal tapping

Tappers are no longer common, but still outperform on quality, speed and safety



—Sponsored article by FEIN Canadian Power Tool Company

It’s become a common sight in manufacturing. An employee, needing to tap a hole in a metal part, reaches for a standard hand drill instead of the tool designed specifically for the job—a tapper.

Though many industrial workers have fallen into the habit of using tools such as hand drills to perform tapping, the approach compromises quality, speed and safety, and can also affect the service life of drills, according to Randy McDonald, national product manager with FEIN Canadian Power Tool Co. in Mississauga, Ont.

“Hand drills have a direct drive so they’re nowhere near as fast or as safe for tapping,” McDonald says. “When you tap the hole with a hand drill, you physically have to stop the tool, then manually reverse it to get the tap to come back out. Using a hand drill also requires more physical effort.”

The hole can end up off-centre, and the tap can also catch or break. Damage to the threads is another common result, he adds. With tappers, once the tool is positioned against a hole and the clutch engaged, the tool automatically goes forward and will start to tap.

When the operator pulls back and releases the clutch, it automatically reverses back out—providing precise results with reduced risk of product damage and operator injury, McDonald explains. Tappers are also invaluable for clearing holes of grease, dirt and debris.

Portable advantage

Aside from hand drills, options for tapping have proliferated over the years, and now include pneumatic tapping attachments for various tool arms, along with automated machinery.

These alternatives have gradually replaced the traditional tapper, to the point where FEIN is the only power tool company offering tappers. Manufacturers looking to buy a new tapper are often surprised to learn they’re no longer widely available.

But FEIN continues to invest research and innovation resources in tappers, due to ongoing demand from industrial buyers focused on quality, efficiency and precision. The tappers are also popular among industrial users who value portability.

“One of our customers, a solar panel installer, had a lot of holes to tap. They knew that our tapper would be a lot faster, safer and more economical than trying to do it with a drill,” McDonald says. “They also had to tap on-sight, in the field.”

This portability and efficiency underpins one of FEIN’s main tapper offerings: the
ASge 636. It has a small corner width and kinetic handle, making it ideal for carrying between work pieces in the field.

The conical drill shaft and precision tapping jaw chuck provide maximum tapping precision and concentricity, and the tool also has a barrel-type motor housing with aluminum support, providing high durability and long service life.Fein tapper

So how should manufacturers and machine shop managers decide if they need dedicated tapper tools for the job? According to McDonald, tappers are best suited to one or more of the following conditions:

• Tapping is done frequently, especially in the field or on-site;
• Production requires chasing existing threads;
• Employees need a portable tool for tapping;
• Other methods of tapping (such as hand drills) are resulting in off-centre holes and other defects, employee injury, and excessive wear to tools.

Despite the common perception that tappers aren’t really necessary, the tools continue to be essential in manufacturing plants where high-quality taps are key, along with safe, efficient workflows and strong customer satisfaction rates.

FEIN has been a world-leading power tool manufacturer for over 140 years. Fein Canadian Power Tool Company, located in Mississauga, Ont., provides a range of high-quality power tools and accessories. Visit www.fein.ca for more information.

To view other articles on industrial power tool selection, safety and care, see the Technology Showcase.

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