Long Fiber and TPE Combined to Make Stylish Handle
An RTP Company long glass fiber compound and soft-touch TPE combine together to add strength and durability.
Striking tools, such as axes and hatchets, are an essential part of any outdoorsman’s equipment and must be able to withstand the rigors of hard use when felling, trimming or pruning trees, splitting wood, or driving stakes.
Over the years there has been little innovation in the basic design of traditional wooden tool handles, furthering familiar problems such as broken handles and loose axe heads.
To solve these issues, Garant, a Saint-François, Quebec, Canada manufacturer of snow, lawn, and garden tools, decided to bring some innovation to the market with ergonomically designed axes and hatchets that were stronger and more colorful.
Customer focus groups embraced a proposed color scheme — red plastic handles covered with black thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) grips. However, when Garant discussed their material requirements for the handles with engineers at RTP Company, a potential problem arose. The red plastic handles covered with black TPE grips were not going to deliver the required strength.
RTP Company recommended changing the color scheme to a black long fiber handle with a red TPE for the overmold. “Our tests made it clear that the properties of the recommended materials were far superior,” said Simon Lamarre, New Products Engineer at Garant. “The revised color scheme worked much better than trying to custom color the long fiber material.”
With the color scheme changes, Garant not only created tools with more consumer appeal, but much stronger ‘overstrike-proof’ tools with excellent impact strength and tensile properties.
“We wanted a comfortable soft grip, but not too soft,” Lamarre said. “We had to make sure the user’s hand could slide along the elastomer while swinging.” The bondability of the TPE to the substrate was also very important. “RTP Company’s material was easy for us to overmold and the adhesion was very good,” added Lamarre.
Garant’s manufacturing process molds the handle directly to the axe head. “Our axe heads have a tail that has five slots,” explained Garant Product Manager Stephanie Bisier-Lessard. “When the plastic handle is molded over these slots, a mechanical connection between the steel head and the handle is formed, ensuring it will never separate or come loose during normal use.”
Garant was very impressed with the support provided by RTP Company. “We were running late delivering our products to the U.S.,” said Bisier-Lessard. “The time frame was extremely tight and RTP Company was very helpful in finding us a solution that allowed us to deliver to our customers on time. With RTP Company, we found the best solution and the best quality at the best price.”
Garant of Saint-François, Quebec, Canada is a manufacturer of snow, lawn and garden tools for retail sale throughout North America.