Hilti held its second annual media event in its new home state of Texas, and I was there to cover it for Home Fixated. Hilti moved much of its North American operations to the suburbs of Dallas a few years ago, including its corporate headquarters and testing facilities. Some of its offices remain in Tulsa, Oklahoma where they’ve been since 1979. As they approach 40 years in the US and we look back at the tools of then versus now, it’s astounding to note how high tech digital development has become such an important component in the latest Hilti tools offered today. Along with the tools covered here, we also got a sneak peak at a few exciting models being polished up for their upcoming preview at the World of Concrete show next winter. So we know even more good stuff from Hilti is on the horizon. Ready to hear what’s new in the world of Hilti tools?
The Hilti tools media event was held at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas, so any WWII, cold war, or Vietnam era warplanes you see in the background do not represent any of the secret new tools I referred to.
Hilti Tools for Measurement and Layout
Digital tools driven by software and BIM (Building Information Modeling) files shared through the cloud are fascinating futuristic tools, but obviously not for building and remodeling on a smaller scale. Yes, Hilti showed us this latest layout wizardry in the form of the PLC 400 system, but No, I couldn’t figure out enough about what it can do to be able to report intelligently on it after our brief introduction. I must be part of the “obviously not…” folks mentioned above.
But a high-tech innovation I was able to comprehend is the line laser that can aim itself automatically to find its remote receiver. This means that the laser can line itself up with the receiver held on a mark on the floor half a building away to connect two points into a long layout line without requiring the operator to walk back and forth to give the laser a nudge in the old trial and error method. You’ll have to get your steps in some other way once you put the Hilti PR 30-HVSG to work. The unit has a rotating green laser that projects horizontal, vertical, and sloped lines, and runs on one of Hilti’s 12V tool batteries. The slope feature is what allows the aforementioned “Auto-Function” to move right or left within 10-degrees to find the receiver when the unit is laid on its side.
We were also wowed with the motorized tripod the new laser was being displayed on. Via its own remote control, the PRA 90 can raise or lower the rotating laser a few feet to automatically hit a distant horizontal mark, also without having to walk back and forth to the unit to manually reset its height.
Connected Tool Solutions
Hilti’s ON!TRACK connected tool system consists of tracking and inventory software available for your smart phone through Amazon along with hardware available from Hilti in the form of five different types of ID tags. Passive tags include stickers and metal plates that have to be scanned to log them into the system.
The AI T380 “Smart Tag” is an active tag that connects via Bluetooth. According to Hilti, this $20 gizmo can be located within a 100 foot radius, has an internal battery that can last up to three years, and is constructed to be job site tough.
You can ping anything you have a tag attached to to make sure you don’t leave those assets behind on a job. But wouldn’t it be cool if it beeped to help you find it like the unit built into the new direct fastening tools? (More on that later). If you’re not within Bluetooth range there is a “last located” map, and your Smart Tag can also be located if it’s within range of someone else with the Hilti tools app on through its mesh network.
Smart Tags can be mechanically attached to tools in different ways, and of course it doesn’t just have to be Hilti tools, or even a tool at all. Upcoming Hilti tools will have sockets built inside to contain the tag and you’ll be able to buy certain models with or without the tag built in.
Cordless Construction Tools
Among Hilti’s new 22V brushless motor tools is a recip saw they’ll put money on to best any 18- to 22-volt saw on the market. The SR 6-A22 has a large folding rafter hook, tool-free blade attachment and shoe adjustments, and a narrow front end for a sure grip. Add to that an LED headlight, Hilti’s AVR (Active Vibration Reduction), and a cylindrical blade mounting shaft that makes it easier to pry out the leftover nub of a snapped blade. But what it doesn’t have is an orbital cutting mode. Bucking the trend of high-end recips including orbital action, Hilti said most of their users never asked for it, never used it and will never miss it.
Though not a mainstay on a commercial job site over here, Hilti is a European based company so they have to have a good jig saw or two in the line. And now they do. The new 22V cordless jig saw they brought over is the D-handle model – the SJD 6-A22, and the similar barrel-grip saw may follow. Besides the brushless motor, other up-to-date features include tool-free blade changing, a non-marring shoe cover, removable vac port, and three orbital cutting modes.
But it’s strictly BYOHK for setting the bevel angle for scribed backcuts and the like. That’s “Bring Your Own Hex Key”, one is not included with the tool.
Am I lame because the most exciting tool to me was the new compact cordless HEPA vac? Regardless of my skills at making other things, I am a master of making a mess so a job site/shop vacuum is one of my most used tools. It’s probably true for a lot of us, our vacs will log many more hours than our table saws or rotary hammers. The only tool likely to get used more is the job site radio.
To commemorate the 1 year anniversary of the OSHA crystalline silica dust regulations going live, Hilti is launching a new 22V vac. With its HEPA filter and manual filter cleaning button, it’s Table 1 ready for drilling and clean-up uses. The VC 75-1-A22 is the first hand-carry vac in Hilti’s lineup, (but you can cheat and use the included shoulder strap). Rated at 75 CFM, it’s also the smallest sucker in the lineup. The brand’s corded vacs pull 125, 150, and 300 CFM for cutting uses with 5-, 6-, and 12-inch wheels respectively. Unlike most portable vacs, its hose stretches to 8-feet of reach without dragging the vac across the floor, and available fabric filter bags keep the HEPA filter clear for maintaining maximum suction. There’s an “Eco” mode to prolong the runtime by 50%, but we can’t lie, we’ll all just leave it in “Max” mode and hope we don’t outpace the battery charger.
We also got a look at some 6-ton and 12-ton crimpers and shears that won’t be out until early next year. The 6-ton tools have an inline design while the 12-tonners have a pistol grip. After watching the largest shears slice through aluminum cable 3 3/8 inches thick in half a jif I wondered about replacing my smallest chain saw. Just kidding—the shears are very pricey.
Hilti Tools for Direct Fastening and Anchors
Battery powered nailers of all sorts are an exciting trend and sure to change building practices in the future in my opinion. Hilti is already two generations deep with a few of their 22V nailers, and the latest have Bluetooth connectivity built in. Through the connectivity dashboard you can check how many shots are left on a battery charge or actively locate a tool by remotely switching on its built-in beeper and flashing light. Coming next year will be the ability to make basic repair diagnoses via the dashboard to see if you can correct the problem yourself through routine maintenance or other quick fix without having the send the tool to a service center.
The latest and greatest include the BX 3 02 IF and BX 3 02 ME. The IF (Interior Framing) model has a magazine for collated pins for shooting steel framing to concrete, while the ME (Mechanical and Electrical) version drives single-shot anchors, conduit clips, etc. that are placed directly on the nose of the nailer. The tool develops firing power through 800-pound compression springs within the head that its motor quickly compresses. After sitting idle for awhile, the springs are relaxed so they don’t take a set and lose force.
For direct fastening of rigid insulation up to 8 inches thick without adhesives or spike systems, Hilti developed the GX-IE. This nailer shoots special single-shot cap nails that are shoved into the insulation before the trigger is pulled to drive the internal pin into the substrate. Though it uses a 12V tool battery pack, its driving force is generated by a gas cartridge, the battery is just used for ignition and exhaust. We wondered why this wasn’t developed as a battery-powered tool and were told it’s much better and faster than the alternatives currently available. We assume a 22V battery version will enter the line in the future.
For driving approved bolts and nuts to threaded anchors to a critical specified torque and recording each attachment event digitally for posterity, Hilti has a portable “brain” unit that connects to an impact wrench. With the SI-AT-A22 module you scan the bar code on a box of Hilti fasteners to set the program and then drive the bolt or nut until the unit literally gives you the green light. After driving, you can upload the log of fastening events to your computer via a USB cord to provide documentation for inspections. The brain module sandwiches between the battery port of the SIW 6AT “adaptive torque” impact wrench and a 22V battery pack.
This level of sophistication and control gives the operator only two things to remember: One, green means stop, and two, don’t dump all your bolts and nuts together in a 5-gallon bucket. If you do, you’ll have to set the output parameters through the menu manually. And after seeing the Terminator 2 movie (and reading the Transformers coloring book) I’m not sure you want to annoy the brain of something the manufacturer labels a “mechatronic system” any more than you have to.
Diamond Cutting and Drilling
Hilti tools new DSH 600-X 12-inch saw rounds out their line of 2-stroke engine cut-off saws which already had 14- and 16-inch models. The 63cc saw boasts a blade brake that stops the rotation in less than 5 seconds after you release the “shark-fin” safety lever on top of the rear handle and a redesigned guard that lets the saw cut nearly as deep as a 14-inch wheel used with one of the other saw models. This new saw works with the DSH-P water feed system which uses the saws engine to power an attached pump for wet cutting applications.
When it comes to the practicality of quick and dirty job site cutting, circ saws aren’t the right tool for metal work, wood cutting blades can’t be used in high-speed grinders, and metal cutting abrasives melt plastics while wood cutting blades mangle them. For the reality of commercial work where a lot of work is done with angle grinders and cut-off saws, Hilti has a multi-material diamond cutting wheel that works quickly and effectively in those tools.
The SPX segmented diamond blade is available in 4 1/2- and 5-inch diameters for angle grinders as well as 12-, 14- and 16-inch versions for cut-off tools, whether gas or electric. It’s optimized for metal cutting, so of course it’s not the blade for finish cuts in plastic and wood. But in the demos being done, it done demo’d them all. Demonstrably.
(And it didn’t burn the wood.)
For the smoothest wet drilling through concrete and rebar, here’s the recipe. Combine the DD 30-W coring drill and stand with the DD VP-U vacuum hold-down and add the WMS 100 recirculating water pump/vac. And don’t forget the SPX-T bit. And somewhere in there, add OSHA for good measure. You might be wading through the alphabet soup with all of that, but at least the floor around your holes will be totally dry.
Unlike a rotary hammer, the coring drill itself runs very quietly so it can be used in occupied buildings. The drill motor provides user feedback by displaying different colored lights to guide the correct feed pressure (and this time, green means go). To avoid driving mechanical fasteners into the surface being drilled, a vacuum hold-down pump anchors the unit quickly and securely. For wet drilling, the drill rig is connected to the WMS 100 which is a self-contained water feeding pump, water collection vac, and internal filter which lets the water be reused and recirculated in a closed loop. With the water collection vacuum ring surrounding the water feed tube at the bit, the operation is neat, leaving no puddles to walk through (and no residual crystalline silica dust to clean up).
Thanks for joining our recap on all the hottest new Hilti tools!