NetComposites
Airtech

Long Fibre and TPE Combine to Create Axe Handles

06 October 2008

When Garant wanted to develop an innovative line of axes and hatchets, they turned to custom compounder RTP Company for assistance.

According to Garant Product Manager Stephanie Bisier-Lessard, ""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. We decided to bring some innovation to the market with ergonomically designed axes and hatchets that were stronger and more colourful.""

Customer focus groups embraced a proposed colour 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 fibre handle with a red TPE for the overmould. According to Simon Lamarre, New Products Engineer at Garant, ""Our tests made it clear that the properties of the recommended materials were far superior. The revised colour scheme worked much better than trying to custom colour the long fibre material.""

With the colour 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 overmould and the adhesion was very good,"" added Lamarre.

Garant's manufacturing process moulds the handle directly to the axe head. ""Our axe heads have a tail that has five slots,"" explained 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.""