As Small As A Pen

Dremel's Electronic Challenge

Dremel asked TEAMS to develop a new version of their most popular rotary tool, to make it easier to use ..."just like a pen".

TEAMS has been designing Bosch and Dremel tools for decades. Knowing their tools inside and out has given us a unique insight into their level of quality and attention to detail. When tasked to develop an engraver in only a months’ time we used this expertise to hit the ground running.

Rapid Experimentation

Taking a combination of user feedback and our personal experience, we defined some goals that would match users’ needs: a single speed like the Dremel Flex Shaft, but even smaller. Making it cordless was also a priority, for the ultimate practicality.  With just four weeks to reinvent the rotary tool, we set to work sourcing all the new components: a suitable motor and motor controllers, the right batteries, and a new micro-controller.

Design thinking within an agile process played a big role here and allowed us to pull together a range of competing ideas within a very short timeframe. Also without the ability to put together handmade breadboards and 3D printed housings, we'd never have met the deadline. 

Mechatronics Methodology

During these phases, we derived three conceptual directions that we crafted out in more detail, carving out the main unique elements of the design, its ergonomics, and features. These concepts were then quickly discussed with rotary tools users. The simplest and tiniest pen-like concept was found the most unique and promising.

To prove the concept would actually work, our UX designer and mechatronics prototype specialist Christoph Albiez, as well as TEAMS’ head of engineering Zoran Tasic conducted a small test series of proof-of-principle prototypes for single features. After they proved to be promising, they sourced a motor, designed and programmed the PCB, developed a LED ring and designed the plastic housing in Pro Engineer with all outside important ergonomic elements and inside structure design in order to draw up a first fully designed and working prototype just weeks after the start of the project.

Adding on Additional Features

In this stage, our designers saw even more room for improvement. Parallel to the creating the prototyped shells, our team created custom lighting and a control software for status indication – as well as lighting control and a battery status display. To increase the user experience even more, we enabled the engraver with variable speed, so that users were equipped with more flexibility on different projects. Aiming to give users more power, our team decided to go for the two battery solution, increasing the engraver’s vigor.

Zoran Tasic, head of engineering at TEAMS alluded to the quality and speed behind the project, “We are continuously optimizing our processes in order to match our client’s needs and provide production ready products within the shortest possible turnaround time. For a client – this is what you’d call ‘a ride on the third Autobahn lane,’ or a way to bypass the masses of traffic and get to the finish line first.  It wouldn’t have been possible without our great team of industrial designers and engineers.”

At the end of 2010, we handed over the finished prototype which quickly went into production. Bosch liked it so much, that it quickly implemented the product under its Brand DREMEL – the key brand under Bosch for handy power tools.


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