Victorinox SwissTool

multi-tool (or multitool) – any one of a range of portable, versatile hand tools that combines several individual functions in a single unit. The smallest are credit-card or key sized units designed for carrying in a wallet or on a keyring, but others are designed to be carried in your pocket.

The idea of incorporating several tools in one small portable unit is very old, dating back at least as far as Middle Roman times. Many of these were based around eating.

The original Swiss Army knife version supplied to the Swiss army includes a knife blade, a reamer, a bottle-opener–screwdriver–wire stripper, and a can-opener–screwdriver. Many other manufacturers now make similar knives.

Multitools come in many forms – from shovels, to hatchets, to snowboards and beyond.

  • multitool camping stove – screws, opens, rules, saws and cooks. The wood stove can cook dinner and boil water. It can saw the firewood and open cans and bottles. The stove then breaks down into four panels that pack flat and weigh less than a pound. The simple, smart contraption consists of four stainless steel panels that quickly assemble into a compact wood stove.

What’s the problem?

  • Ask – Having a versatile set of tools that fits in your pocket is really useful. If the tools are combined into an integrated unit, then there is only one item to carry. The requirement is to design and build the unit small enough to fit in a pocket, not too heavy but strong enough to use in many different situations.
  • Imagine – what are some of the jobs that need to be done frequently where it would be inconvenient to have a whole set of tools? How can each tool be designed so it can be used for more than one job? Who is going to buy one of these multitools? What are they going to want?
  • Plan, Create – How can the pieces be attached together so that each tool can be used individually but carried as a single unit? What are some manufacturing considerations? How much should the combined pieces weigh? What kind of metal should be used? How much is it going cost to make each of these multitools?
  • Improve – What are some of the improvements and changes that have been made since the original Swiss Army knives were made? What tools would you add to a multitool?

That’s engineering

  • no mechanical lock or spring pressure, but is kept in the open position during use by the leverage imparted by the user’s hand.

Engineering ideas

  • pivot, leverage

Do It’
Challenges for you to work on…

  • design and build a model of your personal multitool. What features would you like to have? Where would you use your multitool? Are there special jobs or tools that you need to include?

Learn more…