Techlandia Issue 5- 2021/2022 - Page 59

new FREE Series, Leatherman has been on the cutting edge (pun intended) of hand-held, multi-purpose tools — and the innovation continues to evolve, both within the tools and in Leatherman’s development processes.

The question is, how does a brand interchangeable with the multi-tool category continue to improve a near-perfect product? The answer — magnets and urethane springs.

Leatherman recently developed a new series of tools, the FREE Collection, that uses magnets in a novel way to create a smooth, frictionless feel. The collection includes the P-series, the standard multi-tool; the T-series, a compact pocket knife; and the K-series, a sizeable folding pocket knife.

“For years, multi-purpose tools and pocket knives have required a metal spring, and many still do,” said Peter Parker, the Lead Design Engineer at Leatherman. “The metal springs take up space, they are hard to design, and they can corrode. The magnet integration is unique because it generates a lot of force over a small distance. It makes the tools more flexible and adaptable.”

The magnet holds the tool together but allows the user to access different functions in a frictionless, easy way. 

“A critical feature is that the magnets won’t attract other things,” said Matt Brown, Product Design Engineer at Leatherman. “It won’t demagnetize a pacemaker or credit card. It essentially deactivates when the tool is closed.”

However, springs are still an essential aspect of most multi-purpose tools. Fortunately, Leatherman found a way around this, too.

“We also developed and implemented a new kind of spring for multi-tools, urethane springs, into our FREE Series tools,” added Brown.

The urethane springs take the performance benefit of metal springs but mitigate the long-term issues (like corrosion and cracking). The urethane spring has a robust shelf life, is resistant to corrosion, and is temperature stable.

When combined with magnets, the urethane springs are what make the FREE Series so unique.