Tool balancers hold a hand-operated tool in a pre-set position to minimize operator effort during the use of the tool. These dynamic balancers are applied in industrial settings where the worker must frequently use a heavy hand tool in the same position. Tool balancers are often referred to as power tool holders, power tool assists or tool helpers. There are two main types of tool balancers: tool balancer reels and tool balancer arms. Tool balancer reels store unused support line on a reel, paying it out and retracting line as needed. This is the most common type of retractor and balancer. Tool balancer arm supports are pivoting sections of rigid members. They allow the tool more flexibility to move in the horizontal, as well as vertical, planes. When supporting or holding a tool, tool balancers secure the tool in place using either a suspension hook or the device can be secured in place using a lug mount. Tool balancers are similar to tool retractors, except that while the balancer holds the device in place, the retractor automatically maneuvers the tool away from the work area when the tool is no longer needed.
Important specifications include the weight or load capacity that the tool balancer can bear and the travel or reach of the tool balancer, which details the furthest extent of movement away from the unit's zero position. For obvious reasons, it is unwise to attempt to connect a tool balancer to a device above the recommended support weight. When in doubt, check with the tool balancers manufacturer to make sure that the device can support a given tool.
Typically, tool balancers draw their supporting strength from one of three power sources: spring, pneumatic or electric power. Spring assists retract based on the rotational energy stored in a power or "clock" spring. Pneumatic assists use compressed air power; typically generated from a pneumatic motor. Electric tool balancers derive their power from an electric motor.
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Tool retractors hold the weight of a tool to minimize operator stress and fatigue.