Alastair Warren / Umeå Institute of Design
EasiDrive Electric Screwdriver
Affluent, everyday householders.
EasiDrive Electric Screwdriver
Easidrive does a great job opening a new market with a new topology and presentation. The tool observes how power tools always adopt a macho construction vernacular, something which leaves the growing metrosexual underserved. Power tools could be fuss free, simple, adopt a language more aligned with kitchen appliances than cement mixers. Easidrive does this very naturally.
EasiDrive Electric Screwdriver
The EasiDrive is an electric screwdriver for people unfamiliar with DIY and power tools, for people who just want to hang a painting, assemble a side table, or attach a coat hook. EasiDrive features the functional enhancements of an easy-alignment tool for drilling and screwing straight, a simple direction toggle for understanding what EasiDrive will do, and depth markers for drilling. Ease of use is improved with focused lighting for better vision, a debris catcher to reduce the mess, and the ability to stand while charging (and with a screw-bit in), to both save space and prevent scratching surfaces.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
The brief for this project was two-fold: firstly, take an existing tool/equipment brand that doesn’t currently produce an electric screwdriver, and design one to fit into their range. Their brand language, values, and focus was to be integrated so it could be a realistic product. This realism was to also carry over to manufacturing processes.
I chose to take on the recently established Kärcher Home Line brand, a sub-brand of Kärcher for high-end consumers, without the industrial feel of the existing range. This project was not conducted in collaboration with Kärcher, so for the C77DA I’ve replaced the logo.
The second aspect of this brief was extreme time pressure. We were given a maximum of 14 hours for the research and design phase, not including finalising the manufacturing details. For my project I took 12 hours, then many more for the manufacturing finalisation, CAD, model making, and rendering.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
My focus for this project was on gender-neutrality, and consideration for people without power tool experience. In today’s society, fewer people are growing up getting their hands dirty with DIY projects, so there’s a lack of knowledge on how to operate power tools. In addition, power tools today are designed and marketed with an intense bias towards a masculine, macho feel.
For guys and girls alike who simply want to assembled some IKEA furniture, or fix a few hooks on a wall, picking up a big, chunky, all-powerful drill can be intimidating and also simply overly complicated. This point of view aligned with the Kärcher Home Line brand I chose to design for. Through brand analysis I determined the Kärcher Home Line stands for prosumer quality and refined ease of use. The design language is gender-neutral design, and premium, deliberately avoiding the commonplace macho aesthetic.
In line with this focus, a driving thought for this project was this product should be at home in a kitchen drawer, not the garage or workshop.
The Kärcher brand also added further considerations to the project – the alignment to the brand as a cleaning product company, and Kärcher’s serious consideration of its environmental impact. Cleaning-wise, the built in debris catcher is the most obvious embodiment of the cleanliness focus, but also the ability for the product to stand, and the nozzle to slide out, both to prevent scratches and keep home surfaces in perfect condition is a result of this focus.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
As dictated by the brief, this project was mostly conducted within 12 hours – however, for this timeframe, a reasonably rigorous process was undertaken. Firstly the existing brands of Kärcher and Kärcher Home Line were analysised for commonalities, differences, values, and brand language. Next, various existing electric screwdrivers from other brands were tested and used for typical tasks, and a number were dismantled for further analysis. A very quick questionnaire was also used to quiz six available students and staff, particularly those who were not familiar power-tool users, about how they felt about using an electric screwdriver – what they might use it for, and why they did or didn’t, and would or wouldn’t use one. The research phase was roughly 3.5 hours, with the remaining 8.5 used for rapid design and development.
The design phase involved quick sketching of various concepts, and then mocking up with foam sketch prototypes. At this point the sliding alignment tool was tested and confirmed roughly with simply some sliding paper tubes, but it was enough to get a feel for if it could work or not. Various proportions and form languages were also tested. This processed continued with sketching over photos, one further sketch model, and plenty of sketching with underlays for as-quick-as-possible development. During this time I held three feedback sessions with fellow students to step back and evaluate progress, and move forward in the most efficient manner possible. This also enabled me to quickly discard ideas and focus on what looked promising.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The core value of the EasiDrive is repositioning a power tool as an approachable, convenient, easy to use consumer implement – almost as simple as a stapler – with a very low barrier to use. In doing this it strips away the exceptionally masculine focus of typical power tools, and opens the product to an entirely new, enormous class of users – everyday, “laymen” people. The EasiDrive may be appreciated for its gender-neutral design, reclassing power tools as not solely the domain of men.
This focus has also led to a range of innovative features useful to all, such as the debris catcher, alignment tool, depth markers, and anti-scratch design.
Environmentally the EasiDrive also excels, with a snap-fit construction utilising no screws. This allows for much easier end-of-life recycling. If repairs are undertaken (unlikely, but perhaps if sold as factory refurbished), the shell is simply removed, recycled, and replaced. It was deemed a screwless, single-use recycled body had an overall reduced environmental footprint over a screw-fitted body that could be removed and then remounted. The screwless body has a further, significant benefit. It should have a significantly cheaper manufacturing process, due to reduced materials and reduced processes needed. The Snap fit body is designed to use a minimum of parts and tool bodies.