A few weeks back, I attended the Milwaukee show in Wisconsin along with the rest of the tool-writing press. There were tons of great new things rolling around — however, the one that got very little attention and should have is the new M12 2432-22 Pex tool.
I’ll admit that when I heard about Milwaukee’s partnership with Uponor a while back, I was completely unenthused. I shouldn’t have been. As any number of articles and press releases have stated, the M12 Pex tool aims at replacing the Manual Pex tubing tool and beats the hell out of the old 18v unit that Uponor currently has. It’s smaller and runs on the M12 system, which will get you loads of tubing joints on one charge. In short, it’s sweet.
They way it works is very simple. The nose fits into the end of the pex tube and, with a push of the button, the tubing expands to accept the coupling. Depending on the ambient temperature, you have about 10 to 45 seconds to shove a fitting into the newly-expanded hole; the pex will shrink to form a very secure seal around the new fitting. Installing a fitting takes less than a minute, and about half of that is just waiting for the pex to do its thing — not too shabby.
What you don’t hear is why this should be scary to other tool manufacturers.
What Milwaukee has done here is look at one of the most successful makers of a plumbing tubing product (in this case Uponor) that is going into millions of build sites and then custom-tailored a tool to completely take any hassle out of the install process.
“Sure, tool companies make tools like this all the time,” you say. True — but what some folks might be missing is that this is going to work all the way through the supply chain. Now Uponor doesn’t have to make the old ghetto-fabulous 18v model, which saves them time and cash in development when they can simply recommend that you get the Milwaukee model in their documentation. Installers and DIYers alike can purchase a tool custom-built to work absolutely perfectly with their product — and it does: We hand our hands on it. Plus, Milwaukee has the throughput and R&D to back up whatever Uponor may come up with in the future.
This is the very essence of a strategic partnership. It’s not just a tool that’s designed to work with a product. It’s a tool designed with the manufacturer of that product to merge in lockstep with the process and make everyone involved in that process happier with the end result — and it’s supported at both ends by both Uponor and Milwaukee.
It will run you $400 and be available very soon, so it’s pretty much a contractor-level investment. We’ll update you with more information when it becomes available. What’s clear to us now is that Milwaukee is pulling focus very tightly into certain areas and making very elegant solutions to pro-level difficulties.