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How It’s Made? – Pliers

How It’s Made? – Pliers
By Bill Dickson March 7, 2016 15618 Views

Since ancient times, human beings have used this tool for a variety of tasks. While it’s unknown who exactly invented this tool, it continues to be a fixture in all tool boxes and garages all over the world. This week on How It’s Made?...Tool Parts Direct takes a look at how pliers are manufactured and readied for consumers.

Brief History

Photo Courtesy of Greek Coins

Pliers, very simply, are an instrument created by metal workers to allow other workers to grip and hold objects in place. Pliers are an ancient invention and no one really knows who created pliers. What is known is that pliers have been used since the ancient Egyptians. Blacksmiths created pliers and eventually were used by workers for a variety of jobs. Metal workers would use large pliers to hold a piece of metal in place in order to forge that metal into a certain shape. Wooden pliers were also created in ancient times and used in ancient Greece.

Photo Courtesy of Gambeson

Today, pliers of evolved into an adaptable tool that can not only hold materials in place, but also pull, push, cut and other similar uses. Most pliers are now handheld tools that are used all over the world for very simple tasks.

Materials and Design

The basic design of pliers has mostly remained the same throughout human history, consisting of three major sections. Pliers contain the gripping head, the pivot and a pair of handles. The pliers’ materials usually are made of steel alloys with several additives like vanadium or chromium. This helps strengthen the pliers and prevent corrosion. The handles or usually fitted with grips to make it easier to handle. This also helps with insulation if working with electronics and prevents shocks.

The jaws can vary from shape and size, whether its needle nose to heavy duty pliers designed to increase pressure. The surfaces are textured to increase grip and prevent slippage. Pliers can also be created from softer materials as well to prevent scratches or damage. This includes aluminum, brass, or plastic.

The Manufacturing Process

While pliers may have been created by hand and forge for hundreds of years, today…pliers are created using automatic assembly lines for mass production. This time we’ll focus on gripping pliers. Before any work begins, forgers shape steel rods to its right length and feed the bars onto the assembly line.

Photo Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

Those steel bars are then fed into a furnaces that turns the bars red hot. Once the bars are heated up, they can be forged into the shape of pliers.

Photo Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

Next, a metal worker takes the red hot rod and puts it onto a platform. The rod is then smashed with a machine die and the pliers begin to take shape, it takes up to four times before the pliers are fed onto another machine the cuts off the excess steel.


Photos Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

Obviously, it takes two forged rods to make one pair of pliers. The next step is to feed the two halves into another machine that forges the gripping teeth. The tiny cutters shave the steel while showering the forge with lubricant.

Photo Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

After that, the plier halves are sent into a gas fired furnace and are given heat treatment to strengthen and harden the steel. After the plier halves go through the furnace, they are cooled by salt water to cool the halves rapidly and evenly.

Photos Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

Since the teeth on the pliers have to take a lot of abuse, the teeth of the pliers are given laser treatment to make them harder and even more durable.

Photo Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

The pliers are now ready for assembly. Now, the worker takes the two halves and uses the rivet to join them together. He then sets the joint on a machine that uses force and friction to combine the two into one. Lubricant is also applied as well.

Photo Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

Once that’s finished, the pliers are then inserted into a vat of rust inhibitor that protects the steel. If not, the metal could be substandard and won’t last as long. The vat also helps lubricate the rivets holding the halves together. The pliers’ head is also polished to give it a sleek finish.

Photo Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

Finally, the handles of the pliers are lowered handle deep into a vat of liquid vinyl. Before dipped, the factory heats the pliers so that the vinyl will stick better to the steel. The pliers are then sent to their final oven, heating the vinyl to the steel while sealing the rubber grip to the pliers.


Photo Courtesy of Discovery HD via YouTube

Conclusion

Just like ancient times, pliers continue to be a vital tool that is used all over the world for a variety of jobs. While something may take its place in the future, it’s doubtful that will happen in the near future. Make sure you keep an eye out for future content and thanks for reading!