Aimed at: Pro and DIY users who want to save energy and be sufficient.
Pros: A quality tool with serious capabilities that won't hurt hands or wrists in prolonged use.
Up until a few years ago I was happy to use bulky “traditional” hand operated staplers. Sometimes I even preferred them to electric ones because they were more reliable and didn’t need to be near an electric plug. But time and heredity have ensured that the arthritis that plagued my mother is now bothering me, with the result that these hand staplers are a pain in the arm to use regularly. So, when I was doing a job erecting a large chicken run in a field too long for an extension cord, that involved stapling many metres of various kinds of mesh I looked for a pain free solution. It came in the form of the Rapid ALU940 that I had seen at Cologne in 2014.
Now Rapid is not a company that introduces new products without careful thought and research. Through customer research and feedback Rapid had discovered that users do not want a workout when they use a stapler or nailer – they want to use less force and less energy to achieve their aims. As regular stapler users will know, there have been quite a few attempts to redesign staplers to achieve this end. These includes changing the shape of the levers, using reversed levers, longer triggers for more leverage and the addition of grippy materials to focus the effort from the hand. However, none of these are “proper” solutions because the amount of force that has to be applied to drive, say, a 14mm staple into hardwood, remains the same. But, how that force is generated needs to change if you are going to save energy and arthritic hands like mine.
Rocket science dictates that the force needed to drive a 6mm leg staple is clearly less than a 14mm leg staple, so it would help that the amount of force needed could be altered to suit the staple being used. So, there is simply no energy saving in having a “one shot” stapler that shoots all staples with equal force.
With typical thoroughness, Rapid used physiological data to work out that actually, the hand is giving the strongest force profile right in the middle of the trigger stroke. Obvious in some ways, because starting to press the trigger, our fingers are extended and are relying on the muscles to curve the fingers round to grip the trigger. On the other extreme, when the trigger is fully pulled, our fingers are curved around so cannot exert full force, so it is logical that when the fingers are in the middle of the trigger stroke they can exert the most power.
Using this information, the Rapid R and D team went away and developed the Powercurve Technology, which is now used in the lever of the new range of Rapid staplers. I wish I knew more of the details and how it works, but Rapid, for obvious reasons, is not giving away that information and it is well patented.
Simple tests have shown that the amount of force required to fire a staple from an “old style” stapler is around 100N, while the new Rapid staplers require only 35N for the same task - reduction of about 65%.
The really interesting thing is that this can be easily demonstrated by simply comparing two staplers – one old, one new – by firing off a few staples into a lump of wood. You really can tell the difference. I also noticed that there seems to be significantly less “shock” transferred through the stapler to the user’s hand. When I first tried the Rapid at Cologne I must have got through a whole magazine full of staples just proving to myself that the Powercurve Technology did indeed work.
Real testing on real consumers using the Borg Scale of perceived exertion showed that they rated the new Rapid staplers as “really easy” to operate compared to the “really hard” rating they gave to traditional staplers.
As ever, I really wanted the technology to serve my needs, so back to the damp, cold autumn field and the 24 metre run by 2 metres high run of wire mesh I had to fix. I needed to use maximum power because I was using 14mm staples for best effect. Each pole support needed at least 12 staples to fix the mesh and the corner poles double that. Plus all the extraneous ones that are needed to hold the mesh in place while it is pulled into shape in order to look neat. I used roughly 350 staples and had very few that I had to redo.
I addition, the top of the run needed to be covered with a light nylon mesh to discourage the buzzards etc that seem to be becoming more frequently seen down in Sussex. This mesh needed only 6mm staples, but many more of them in order to avoid any “gapping” that could occur. I can report that my right hand did indeed cope very well with firing off about 8 or 900 staples in a day and I didn’t suffer with any pain at all. Proof, I think, that Powercurve Technology does indeed work.
As for the stapler itself, it is robustly made in blue painted alloy with generous rubberized grip areas in grey on the handle and front. A simple yellow slide switch has three positions marked so that you can choose the level of force for different sizes of staple.
Loading with staples or nails is about as easy as it could be – turn the stapler upside down, release the magazine via the simple catch on the back and it will gently spring open to reveal the steel magazine into which the fixings can be loaded. Not only simple to fire, but also simple to load.
If I wanted to pick out my key word to describe this Rapid ALU940 it would be “easy” – my hands feel the difference any time I use it and it is now a regular in my site toolbox. Pick one up and try one – you WILL feel the difference.
For more information of Rapid products, please visit www.rapid.com