Alligator Lopper: Gate1

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Contents

Gate 1

Introduction

Black and Decker has revolutionized the tool industry with their Alligator Lopper; a design that is described as a combination of an ordinary chainsaw and the parent lopper. The Alligator Lopper is ideal for tree pruning, clearing brush, storm clean-up, cutting firewood and more, and it is a great alternative to chainsaws, manual loppers, handsaws and clippers.

This innovative tool will make cleaning up the yard less of a chore. The clamping jaws grab and cut in 1 easy motion, and with the 4.5 Amp motor, you'll get fast and powerful performance. After a storm, this device can cut fallen branches into manageable pieces to take to the curb or stack by the fire pit. When manual pruners just won't cut it, you'll appreciate the 4 inch cutting capacity that allows you to not only tidy up the yard, but eliminate large branches that keep the sun from reaching your garden below.

The Alligator Lopper’s jaws offer the ultimate in controlled cutting. The rugged metal guards that cover the jaws protect you from the cutting chain and immediately cover the blades once the cut is complete. The scissor action allows for fast, easy cutting and is great for pruning trees & shrubs.

Developmental Profile

Black & Decker is a global marketer and manufacturer of quality products used in and around the home, and it also serves as a major supplier of information systems and services to government and commercial clients worldwide. While developing this particular product, Black and Decker designed the Lopper mainly for the benefits of residential homeowners. These benefits focus on factors of safety, maneuverability, and low cost maintenance.

Global - As mentioned above, the majority of consumers who are likely to obtain this product are residential homeowners. Due to its limited size, the ability to perform in industrial and commercial work environment is not possible; however, it is still useful for small landscaping projects. A majority of the homeowners who purchased the Alligator Lopper find it useful for trimming tree branches, clearing their yard space, and cleaning up any fallen branches that occurred due strong winds and aged trees. It reduces the amount of work and time that a normal trimmer or chainsaw would usually occupy and provides a cleaner cut through branches, reducing any mess. The electric chainsaw is also easier on the ears because they generate much less noise than their gas-operated cousins. The Alligator is rated for a pressure level of 87 Decibels and a noise sound level of 98 Decibels, while a comparable chainsaw is rated for a pressure level of 100.7 Decibels and a sound level of 113 Decibels.

Environmental - Compared to the traditional gas powered chainsaw, the Alligator Lopper reduces the amount of pollutants that are set off into the air. Its use of electric power helps to keep the environment cleaner and the need to dispose of residues minimal. Storing this product is also an ease in times of cold and hot weather. All you have to do is put a guard on the bar, wrap the cord up, and store it anywhere you want. Gas chainsaws have to be cooled down, have their gas and oil drained, then stored in a vertical position in a ventilated area.

Economical - Because the price of gasoline is skyrocketing in today's economy, the Alligator Lopper can save homeowners a significant amount of money. There is no need to waste gasoline and maintenance is affordable. Located on their website is a list of replacement parts ranging from $1.00 to $32.00.

Woman using Alligator Lopper
Societal - A key factor with companies that manufacture power tools is safety. Black and Decker saw the jaw of the chainsaw as an extra precaution to protect users from the exposed blade. They also added the use of a dual trigger system to ensure that the chainsaw will not run unless both triggers are compressed, decreasing the probability of an accident happening. Because of the diversity in home-ownership, Black and Decker's design is an light weight machine allowing easy maneuverability for both male and female users without straining or causing injury to the user.

One problem that is avoid in this design is kickback; it refers to when the end of the bar hits something and causes the tool to jerk backwards. The electric design has less power than one that is powered by gas, so there will be a reduced chance of you experiencing kickback while operating the tool.

Usage Profile

Blacker and Decker designed this product mainly for home improvement and gardening purposes. It is stated in the instruction manual [1], "Your Black & Decker Alligator Lopper has been designed for pruning trees and cutting small logs up to 4 inches in diameter... This tool is intended for consumer use only", just for warning purposes to consumers that may attempt to use this tool beyond its work capacity. Because its blade is not exposed like that of a normal chainsaw, the Alligator Lopper cannot be used to cut down a tree; rather it is used for pruning branches and clearing up debris of fallen tree branches. Due the Jaw of the Lopper, this chainsaw can only cut to a limit of 4 inch diameter branches, however it had been reported to cut branches with a maximum diameter of 6 inches.

Energy Profile

This version of the product is a corded version that runs off a standard U.S. 120 Volt wall outlet. It contains a 4.5 Amp Motor which is powered through the use of an extension cord. The use of an extension cord is required since the product only comes with a short cord attached to the unit. The fact it requires an outlet to work limits its use to within the reach of a given extension cord originating from the wall outlet. The Alligator also must house some sort of Alternating Current to Direct Current converter since the motor that drives the chainsaw portion is most likely a Direct Current motor.

Ultimately the purpose of this machine is to convert electrical energy in the form of Alternating Current into mechanical energy which is harnessed to cut through trees and branches. Based on an initial viewing of the Alligator from online sources, this is the theorized flow and conversion of energy:

1)Electricity flows into the device.
2)The Alternating Current is converted into Direct Current.
3)Power is supplied to the motor.
4)The dual trigger system on the handles are depressed by the user, engaging the motor and clutch in order to run the chainsaw.
5)By engaging the clutch, the motor powers the sprocket.
6)The sprocket spins the chain around the chain guide allowing the user to saw through whatever is placed between the jaws of the Alligator.

Complexity Profile

The Alligator lopper can be subdivided into the following

1)Chainsaw
2)Trigger Assembly
3)Scissor Skeleton

Each of these subsystems can be further subdivided into its member components.

"Chainsaw" This would include the motor, the clutch, the sprocket, the chain guide, and the chain. When the triggers are engaged, the clutch make contact with the motor drive shaft and the sprocket. This in turn spins the sprocket which drives the chain around the chain guide. It is the assumption of this group that this motor is a DC motor which would also mean that an Alternating Current to Direct Current converter would be required to run it.

"Trigger Assembly" This subsystem would be wired into the power cord before it reached the motor. It would include the actual plastic triggers themselves, a spring of some sort in order to keep force on the trigger and provide resistance against the user's grip, and finally the pressure sensitive switch which powers the chainsaw. The user depresses both of the triggers concurrently. This causes the triggers to trip the switch located within the grip. When tripped, the switches allow the motor and clutch to engage and the sprocket spins which powers the chain.

"Scissor Skeleton" This comprises the outer cover of the Alligator. There are two components which are the two different levers. These levers essentially are joined at their center at a pivot point, much like a pair of scissors. One side of the levers are the handles where the Trigger Assembly is located. On the other side of the pivot point the chain saw guards are located which is where the Chainsaw subsystem is housed.

To work the Alligator, the user grasps the device by the handles and presses both triggers. This allows the sprocket to be engaged by the motor which turns the chain. The user then presses the two handles together. This clamps the chain guards down on a target branch which then comes in contact with the chain and is sawed in half.

Materials Profile

One of the main selling points of the Alligator is that it is lightweight in comparison to other chainsaws and pole cutters currently on the market. It only weighs in at 6.5 lbs. This is due to not only its lack of a gas engine but also by the materials used to assemble it.

The first material one may recognize at a glance of the Alligator is plastic. The plastic used is most likely Polystyrene, which is a thermoset plastic. This type of plastic is hard and durable while still remaining lightweight. The outer shell of the tool is comprised entirely of plastic, including the handles and trigger system used to operate the Alligator.

The other visible material is metal. The chain guards on either side of the chainsaw appear to be some sort of sheet metal, most likely steel. Using plastic in this position would appear to be the wrong decision since it has the possibility to come into contact with the metal chain. In addition to the guards, the chain guide and the chain itself seem to be made of stainless steel. These components would require durability and strength in its operation, something that other materials might not be able to provide. Furthermore, depending on what kind of chain is put on it, the cutting surfaces might be imbedded with ceramics or even diamond dust depending on what the operator is cutting.

Within the Alligator, I would expect more metal and plastic components. The entire trigger system appears to be made of plastic, besides perhaps the spring used to give the trigger some force to hold it in position. the sprocket and clutch are almost certainly made of metal since they need to withstand the force and torque of the DC motor. The motor itself would be comprised of some sort of magnetic metal and copper wiring in order for a current to be applied to turn the magnet which is connected to the drive shaft.

The way in which these components were made is still somewhat unknown. The plastics were most likely molded into their current shape. The metal components could have been formed in three ways: A) They were molded, B) They were stamped, C) They were milled. Based on the price and the intricacies, we do not believe they were milled. The alligator is too cheap to have milled parts since that is usually expensive. The sprocket, components of the chain, and the clutch were most likely molded out of molten metal. The chain guide and guards were most likely stamped out of one large piece of sheet metal and bended and cut into their current forms.

User Interaction Profile

In order for the Alligator to be of any use, the user must interact with the product. To use the product, the user must grasp it by the two protruding handles. They must then compress both of the triggers located in the handles in order for the chain to engage. Using the same general motion as a large pair of scissors, the user the press the handles together in order to close the jaws. This action brings the spinning blade into contact with the object that is to be cut.

The Alligator is pretty easy to use and based on both the trigger placement and past experiences, any user can pick it up and be effective with it almost immediately. It applies the same concept as a pair of scissors: two levers that must be compressed together in order to bring a cutting surface into contact with the intended target. In addition, the triggers are large and very noticeable. They are placed directly in the preferred gripping location making them very hard to ignore. It is also easy to infer that they must be depressed in order to activate the chainsaw blade.

The only problem which might arise is if someone is not able to manipulate the 6.5 lb product. This is why the intended consumer is not the elderly or children, but homeowners and property owners. According the Amazon reviews, the average rating is about 4.5 stars out of 5 based on 403 customer reviews [2]

Regular Maintenance is required in order to keep the Alligator operational. The user manual suggests that for every 10 minutes of continuous use the chain be lubricated with oil. The product has an oil reservoir which must be filled through the 'Oil Filling Hole'. An excessive amount of oil drips onto the chain bar and keeps it thoroughly lubricated. If the chain dulls due to continued use, the owner may also want to change out the chain. The user guide has a step by step instructional guide on how to take apart and replace the chain, which requires very little work. Finally, the user may have to adjust the tension on the chain so that it is not too loose. This involves loosening two nuts and allowing the chain tensioning device to adjust the tension to the correct amount. The user then just has to tighten the two nuts that he/she loosened and it is ready to go.

Product Alternative Profile

The Alligator Lopper emerged in a market that already had current solutions to hedge trimming and branch clearing. The main types of competing products can be characterized by one of the four following products:

1)Chainsaw

Husqvarna 240 Chainsaw
 :Sample Product: Husqvarna 240 Chainsaw [3]
The chainsaw is the most generic yard tool when considering branch removal. These are usually gas powered with a two stroke engine, which requires a mixture of oil and gasoline as its fuel. Since the power source is contained within the product itself, it is highly mobile and can be operated anywhere as long as fuel is present. The bar length of the Husqvarna 240 is 13 to 16 inches. It has a 2 horsepower engine and weighs 10.3 pounds which is one and a half times as heavy as the Alligator. The weight therefore makes it somewhat cumbersome and hard to control when compared to the Alligator.
This particular chainsaw costs $209, making it the priciest alternative.

2)Pole Cutters

Earth Cordless Electric Pole
 :Sample Product: Earthwise LPS41010 18 Volt Lithium-Ion 10" Cordless Electric Pole [4]
This type of yard tool can be both battery powered and corded, similar to the different versions of the Alligator Lopper. Its advantage lies in its ability to reach high branches and trim them. This particular pole cutter is 9 feet long meaning it can be used to reach branches 12-14 feet above the ground (9 feet plus height off the ground the person is holding it). This version is battery powered so it is not tethered to a wall socket like the Alligator is. It has a 10 inch chain and bar and different angles which the head can be set at. Its disadvantage lies in cutting things close to the ground such as fallen tree branches. Its 9 foot length also makes it cumbersome to maneuver.
This particular pole cutter costs $115.

3)Manual Branch Cutters [5]

Sample Product: Fiskars 9154 PowerGear 32-Inch Bypass Lopper
This is the most simple and the cheapest alternative to the Alligator Lopper. It is a manually operated branch cutter With a 2 inch cutting capacity, which is half as large as the cutting capacity of the Alligator. It requires no fuel nor electricity. Its main disadvantage lies in the fact that it relies upon the strength of the user to cut through a branch. This cutter is 32 inches long, which is the average length of a pair of branch cutters.
This particular pole cutter costs $33, making it the cheapest alternative.


Cordless Alligator Lopper
4) The Cordless Version of the Alligator Lopper [6]

The Alligator Lopper has a another design that is ultimately the same, however its possesses a different power source in the form of a rechargeable battery. The following bullets represent a basic comparison between the Cordless and the Corded Alligator Lopper Models:

•Cordless has a battery allowing greater mobility while the Corded version is restricted by the length of the extension cord it is plugged into.
•Cordless has chain brake.
•Corded an 8 inch chain size compared to the Cordless which has an 6 inch chain size.
•Both the Corded and the Cordless are rated by Black and Decker for a 4 inch cutting capacity but it has been reported the Corded version has a 6 inch cutting capacity.
•Corded has an overall length of 25.15 inches while the Cordless has a length of 24 inches.
•The Corded version weighs 6.5 pounds while the cordless weighs 7.9 pounds.

The cordless Lopper includes:

18V Battery
Battery Charger
Oil Bottle, Bar, and Chain
Wrench

The corded Lopper includes:

Oil bottle
Wrench


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