Airbow® Case Study

Builder using Airbow Framer on wooden frames

Hammerforce was approached by Airbow® to license the Hammerforce IP and assist in developing an untethered, lighter, cleaner and more efficient nail gun.

Airbow® began when a small group of builders in New Zealand decided to address the less-than-ideal performance of their framing guns. The market was dominated by one nail gun brand which had a number of major undesirable aspects such as fumes, carbon build up, noise, the need for batteries and high susceptibility to failure. With access to a garage workshop, these builders sought to create a better framing gun. The complexity of the project quickly grew and having landed on a workable prototype they engaged multiple consultants, none of whom had the specific expertise and knowledge to bring this gun to market. “Whist we understood we wanted a better alternative to current framing guns, we really had no idea how to take that idea and make it commercial, and each consultant we worked with could only do some of the process”, says Allan Collis, General Manager of Airbow.

Hammerforce was approached due to its patented force mechanism for precision control of high pressure air. Offering a very niche technology with a very wide and adaptable IP. It was quickly identified that by using this technology and Hammerforce’s R&D expertise, Airbow® had a real chance of creating an effective, efficient and commercial tool.

Airbow Framer 3D pull-apart model

“We have a range of options when it comes to developing products and systems for our partners, from licensing exclusive access to the technology, working as a consultant allowing efficient development around the IP, or in some cases a more full service offering . No matter how light or heavy our technical involvement in a project is, we always make sure that first we develop a deep understanding of that product’s market & our partner’s competitive position in it. We have the skill set and adaptability to tailor our technology based on our partner, their needs, and the market they are in or would like to access.” says Hammerforce CEO, Andy Coster. This adaptability proved invaluable for the Airbow® team, who were able to use Hammerforce’s expertise for the entire process through to completion.

Airbow paid an upfront fee to gain access to the technology and will continue to pay licensing fees for ongoing production & sales. By engaging with Hammerforce, apart from the technology offering, Airbow was also able to access the market analysis and strategy skills of the Hammerforce team. These skills were vital to fully understanding the commercial side of the framer market and ensured the product delivered on the requirements of both builders and the sales channel.

Time to market was impressively short for this project due to the way Hammerforce structures its business. Actively seeking efficiencies through parallel work streams in all projects allows for shorter development and testing timeframes. “The way we achieve that is to lean on partners and connections. Making smart decisions on what we delegate, how and when. Our in-house expertise, knowledge base and experience see us focus on the entire project, not just the technological aspect” says Andy. Having developed systems internally to optimise the application of the technology, prototypes are developed quicker and with more certainty.

These prototypes were tested in house using bespoke automated highly accelerated test rigs and in real life situations with builders in New Zealand and the US. Understanding the industry and what the users within it required from a framing gun was a key part of the process. Along with defining the market and its potential, both within New Zealand and offshore. Bespoke, inhouse testing was carried out to ensure this tool worked above and beyond expectations, as well as certification from industry recognised third parties.

Airbow® Framer with air flowing through

“We have a range of options when it comes to developing products and systems for our partners, from licensing exclusive access to the technology, working as a consultant allowing efficient development around the IP, or in some cases a more full service offering.”

While Hammerforce are technology leaders, this product is testament that it is not at the detriment of industrial design and aesthetics. From understanding the industry and how this tool was used Hammerforce recognised this tool needed to be ergonomic and something a builder would be proud to use. The balance between form and function was carefully managed throughout the process, something very close to the heart of the Hammerforce team. Even down to where and how the Hammerforce Technology symbol can sit on the gun, there are clear brand guidelines to ensure consistency. Each and every Airbow gun has the Hammerforce Technology symbol on it and Airbow pay an ongoing licensing fee for this.

The end product, now sold in PlaceMakers (the number one supplier to builders and construction industry in New Zealand) is already taking market share from the significant market leader, reinforcing how robust the Hammerforce development process was. The product has completely reimagined how a framing gun should fire nails. The new system allows the untethered gun to effectively transform one gram of compressed air into enough power to consistently drive a nail home every time, safely.

Following a successful launch in 2018, Hammerforce identified, and Airbow® confirmed the market potential for an untethered fastening gun system, centred around a single air compressor with a range of framing guns including a concrete gun, framing gun and brad / finishing gun. Airbow® has chosen to re-engage Hammerforce to develop the Airbow® system and the range of tools feeding off it under their licensing agreement.

The success of Airbow® has proven that Hammerforce has the knowledge and capability to turn their patented technology into a mass-produced mechanism within a system to generate and deliver the required force. This provides several significant competitive advantages over the existing and established technology options.

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Builder using Airbow Framer in the rain