The 9 Biggest Takeaways from Milwaukee’s New Product Symposium 2017

Milwaukee Tool CEO Steve Richman Giving the NPS17 Opening Address

Milwaukee Tool CEO Steve Richman Giving the NPS17 Opening Address

The 2017 Milwaukee Tool New Product Symposium (NPS) was held last week at Milwaukee’s headquarters and it proved to be a whirlwind of new products and information from the red brand.  Over 80 new tools and accessories, which will be released throughout the remainder of 2017, were presented to dozens of media representatives, including construction magazines, YouTubers, Instagrammers, and your favorite construction blog (Construction Junkie, obviously).

After flooding our social media pages with Milwaukee information and gathering our thoughts from the event, we’ve come up with our 9 biggest takeaways from the event, in no particular order.  Let us know what new tools and accessories that you’re most excited about or which products you wish they would have announced!

1. The New Carbide Metal Cutting Sawzall Blades and Hole Saws Are Amazing

There’s really two routes you can go with blades: either by a ton of cheap ones or invest in quality.  After seeing the new Milwaukee Carbide Sawzall blades and Hole Saws last week, it seems that you can’t get higher quality than Milwaukee’s.  In September, the TORCH carbide tipped metal-cutting Sawzall blades will be released.  Attendees were able to witness the blades being used to cut through high strength alloy, a 4” cast iron pipe, and race a cutting torch.  I was personally able to use the blade to cut through the 4” cast iron pipe and it was extremely easy and took me a tad over 30 seconds.

The BIG HAWG with Carbide Teeth, meant for quick plug removal in nail-embedded wood and abrasive materials, will be released in December of 2017.  Milwaukee states that this new hole saw will be able to cut through 1000 more nails, giving it 50 times the life of competitor blades, all while cutting through the material 5 times faster.

The Hole Dozer with Carbide Teeth, used for hard metals and abrasive cutting applications, will also be released in December of 2017.  The Dozers feature 4 TPI and can move from cement board to wood without its teeth dulling.

2. Milwaukee is Very Committed to Growing their Hand Tools Department

While Milwaukee is actively developing a battery powered solutions that will replace any hand tool, they’re also diving deep to provide users with even more hand tools.  Seems a bit counterintuitive, but Milwaukee refuses to alienate any potential customers.  At this year’s NPS, the company announced a variety of new products in their hand tool department, including new Milwaukee levels, bolt cutters, pipe cutters, snips, knives, low voltage tools, 2 different backpacks, hook and pick sets, pry bars, combination wrenches, screwdriver sets, and tool landyards. I really liked the screwdriver sets they offered, as they’re very clearly marked for easy identification on a tool belt. 

3. PACKOUT is the New Standard for Heavy Duty Tool Storage

A lot of people had the new PACKOUT storage solution as “Best in Show” and I can’t blame them, it’s an impressive collection.  All pieces of the PACKOUT are able to be stacked and locked together, including soft storage totes.  The various sized boxes and organizers include an area to attached a padlock for additional security.  The full system, at this point, consists of 8 different products, including 3 tool boxes, 2 organizers, and 3 storage totes. The bottom rolling tool box includes 9” all-terrain wheels that can handle up to 250 pounds. Both the tool boxes and organizers are IP65 rated for duster and water resistance.

Available in September 2017, the PACKOUT system components start at $29.99 and go to $129.99.  The product manager for PACKOUT also let me know that this is just the beginning of the PACKOUT system.

4. M12 and M18 Power Tools Got Major Upgrades

The big story for the M12 and M18 tools were upgraded versions of old favorites, like the M12 impact driver and hammerdrill/driver, the Hackzall, and torque wrenches.  Other new tools included M12 ratchets, an M18 mud mixer, M18 Fuel 7 ¼” dual bevel sliding compound miter saw, an M18 Compact Heat Gun, and an M12 Soldering Iron.

The 2nd Generation M12 FUEL ¼” Hex Impact Driver is a full inch shorter than the previous version and is 20% faster, thanks to a smaller motor and a redesigned shell.  The driver also features 3 speeds, as well as a TEK screw mode.  The M12 FUEL ½” Drill/Driver and Hammer Drill are also a full inch shorter than the first generation and offer increased performance.  All three tools will be available in December 2017.

New Milwaukee Tool M12 1/4" Impact Driver (left) is an inch smaller and 30% faster than it's predecessor. #NPS17 #NBHD

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An updated M18 FUEL Hackzall was on top of a lot of people’s wish lists this year and did not disappoint.  Thanks to a brushless motor and 7/8” stroke length, the new Hackzall provides much faster cuts versus its previous version.  If you’re looking for an ergonomic, light duty reciprocating saw, this is best in class right now.  There’s such a small amount of vibration with the Hackzall, you barely even realize you’re using it.

5. The M12 3/8” Crown Stapler is Super Fun and Useful

One of the brand new tools released this year is the M12 Crown Stapler, which pleasantly surprised many of us at the show.  Just a bit larger than a traditional staple gun, the M12 Stapler can sink around 1500 staples on just one charge of Milwaukee's smallest battery (the 1.5Ah M12), with little effort on the user.  This little gadget is especially useful for overhead use and other large, repetitive projects.  Not only that, it was extremely fun to use.

New Milwaukee Tool M12 3/8" Crown Stapler. Fun and efficient. #NPS17 #NBHD

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6. There are Plenty of New Options for Silica Dust Collection

With new OSHA silica dust regulations set to be required on jobsites throughout America this year, dust collection is a major concern for many.  At the event, Milwaukee did a nice job of not only introducing many of their new dust collection options, but also highlighting many of their existing options, some of which have been out for around 4 years.  The bell of the ball was the new 8 gallon dust extractor, which will be required to use many of the dust extraction attachments.  Among the new attachments are the SDS-MAX Dust Extraction Attachment, which uses suction to attach to the cutting surface, the SDS MAX chisel boot for rotary hammers, the surface grinding dust shroud, the cutting dust shroud, and SDS-Plus and MAX Vacuum Drill Bits. The new accessories will be released in July and August, well ahead of the new OSHA regulations taking affect.

7. New Lighting Solutions are Awesome

After last year’s successful release of a few battery powered lighting solutions, Milwaukee has gone all-in on lighting this year, offering M18 options, rechargeable REDLITHIUM options, and even a corded-only option. 

Among the REDLITHIUM options, which are powered by a USB rechargeable battery about twice the size of a standard AA battery, are a flashlight, hard hat light, and a rover magnetic pocket flood light.  The flashlight provides up to 700 lumens in a spot light or flood mode and is completely water and dust proof.  During the presentation, the lighting team turned on two of the flashlights and put one in a water tank and another in a tank filled with dust.  Neither went out during the entire hour we were in the room.  The hard hat light provides 475 lumens of forward lighting in a dust and water resistant shell.  It also includes rubber hard hat attachment clips to keep the light from falling off. The rover light features super strong magnets on the back and side of the light, so it can attach or clip to most surfaces.  All of the REDLITHIUM lighting options will be available in September of 2017.

The new M18 lighting options included a new RADIUS Site Light with ONE-KEY and ROVER Magnetic Flood Light.  The M18 Radius light rivals DeWalt’s 20V Bluetooth Large Area Light in stature and functionality.  I love the current M18 360 Radius light, which is meant for table top applications and is also able to hang from above, but this one is a higher powered floor model, offering 9,000 lumens.  It’s also the first Milwaukee tool to ever feature a dual battery option.  Two batteries are not required to use the light, but they can run in sequence to provide additional length of lighting.  Like the other radius light, the site light also has an AC power option, which will also charge any batteries that are connected.  The site light will be released for purchase in August.

The M18 Rover Magnetic Flood Light is an extremely versatile light, because it not only has super strong magnets that can hold 25 pounds, but it also has a built-in clamp to hook to non-magnetic materials.  The 2” clamp has a soft-close spring, so you don’t have to worry about getting your fingers smashed.  It’s also impact resistant, so in combination with the clamp, it’s the perfect light for use on lifts.   The new M18 Rover light will be available for purchase in October.

8. Milwaukee’s Success is Built on the Small Details

From the Empire Level factory tour, the Milwaukee Headquarters tour, to the actual New Product Symposium, and everything in between, the staff at Milwaukee take every opportunity to highlight their products and show their passion for their brand.  The company doesn’t worry about making sure each tool they release has a massive audience or not, they’ll release a very specific product just to make sure a new trade or new user is on their platform.  The thing I found most remarkable about their attention to detail was that they used the M18 Radius Lights that were released last year as the overhead lighting in all of the tents set up for new products and at their currently under construction headquarters expansion.  It’s something that many people probably wouldn’t notice, but they made sure to use their product anyway and I think that’s incredibly smart. You can really tell that the employees love their products and buy into the brand.

With at least two job sites around Milwaukee that exclusively use Milwaukee Tools (the Milwaukee Tool headquarters expansion project and the new Milwaukee Bucks arena), the company is in a unique position to get some great feedback from the workers on site.  This not only allows them to tweak some of their existing tools to better suit the needs of the workers, but also create new tools based upon their suggestions.

milwaukee radius overhead light NPS17

9. Milwaukee is Planning Big Things for 2018

Throughout the 2 days of presentations and events at the Symposium, there were many hints directed at 2018 being a huge year for Milwaukee.  We weren’t able to squeeze any details out from them, but several people, including Milwaukee CEO Steve Richman, made mention of it.  With many exciting new tools released this year, it’s exciting to hear about even bigger plans for next year.  We can’t wait to hear all about it.

steve richman milwaukee tool ceo