When I visited Milwaukee Tool for their Pipeline media event last month, I asked a burning question – when can we expect to see Milwaukee’s first pouch-style cordless power tool batteries?
The answer – when they’re ready.
This isn’t a race. There is no room for mistakes. Safety is paramount.
Although there’s always room for surprises, I don’t think anything is in the plans for 2022.
Read Also: Will Milwaukee Respond to New Cordless Power Tool Battery Tech in 2022?
To the benefit of cordless power tool brands, there is no shortage of companies vying for the attention and business of electric vehicle makers and other industries in need of next-gen battery cells.
Shown above is a series EnPower pouch-style Li-ion battery cells. EnPower is a US-based company focused on advanced battery technology development and manufacturing. They are one of many companies working on modern high performance Li-ion battery cells.
At the most recent Pipeline event, where Milwaukee Tool showed off their brand new state-of-the-art manufacturing center, a Milwaukee product manager confirmed to me that they are exploring multiple next-generation battery technologies.
During my tour of Milwaukee Tool’s headquarters last week, we visited one of their battery labs, which focuses on Li-ion cell testing and analysis. I last visited this lab in 2019, and as I have a deep interest in such things, I noticed that the room was populated with new equipment and test chambers.
Milwaukee has a separate room where they conduct battery pack testing and cycling, but it has not been a part of their media tour for several years.
Milwaukee Tool product managers and engineers haven’t let anything slip regarding their plans. Pouch-style batteries are something they are and have been working on.
But, I was also given the distinct feeling that they’re working on something else, too.
At the time of this posting, two Milwaukee competitors already have pouch-style battery packs on the market. Dewalt has a single pouch-style battery – a compact 20V Max 1.7Ah pack, and Flex has numerous pouch-cell batteries for their 24V Max line.
Milwaukee Tool seems convinced that, although they won’t be first, their next-gen batteries will be best.
I think that 2023 is going to be a big year.
This assumes we all know what a “pouch-style” battery is and why it’s a big deal.
Over the past 10-15 years, cordless power tool batteries gradually increased from 3Ah to 5Ah, using 18650-sized cylindrical-style lithium-ion battery cells and then 6Ah to 12Ah using larger 21700-sized cylindrical-style battery cells.
We have reached practical limits as to the power output and charge capacities of cylindrical-sized li-ion battery cells.
The next jump forward looks to be with stacked pouch-style cells, which promise greater power deliver and high charge density.
Next generation cordless power tool batteries will likely push boundaries as to what next-gen cordless power tools can do.
don’t add the extra zero on the end, idiots do that, and your not an idiot.
You’re not an idiot, not your not an idiot.
Are you for real? What a mook!
Whats a mook; sorry *What’s*
if you’re going to be pedantic, the contraction you’re looking for is *you’re*
You need a slap for that🖕
Look at LGChem, Panasonic, and every other Li-Ion cell manufacturer’s site. They’re called 18650. It’s printed on the cells. You don’t have to like it, but that’s just how it is.
The extra 0 is standard in the battery industry and has been for many years. B
Derek left the party. 🤣 In the past I’ve done that. It’s best to refrain due to the inevitable foot in the mouth so deep you actually taste mid calf. Tread lightly when tempted to be a condescending mofo.
You’re also kinda wrong the way you made your statement. Stuart is referring to standard cylindrical cells. Doing some poking around, the best description I could find was:
“An 18650 Battery is a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The first 4 digits of the designation “18650” indicate the physical dimensions while the 5 th digit indicates it is a cylinder cell.”
Using your definition is not more correct, but is less informative.
Oh, and it’s you’re, not your.
0 is a beautiful thing.
Beverly Hills 9021
They are 18650 and 21700. That is the size. Not 1865 and 2170. There is no shortcut in battery sizes.
Why not just say in the article they are making their version of the dewalt stacked battery? Most people know what that battery is and looks like?
The Dewalt battery is one size so far (1.7Ah), and many people still have a poor understanding of the what, why, and how behind it.
because it has to be framed a certain way to appease the people who pay for the free trips and tool samples.
Sweet. I was wondering when other brands would throw their hat in the ring.
You have to assume that every manufacture is spending R&D money on new battery tech.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the “lab” Stuart saw was a setup, something to impress people with during tours, then have it sit idle. I can see them testing pack configurations for heat buildup or protection circuit effectiveness, but that’s about it.
99% of battery R&D happens at the cell level, and Milwaukee doesn’t make cells. All this RedLithium blabber is marketing fluff to make people think they have some competitive advantage. They don’t. They have access to and use the same commodity cells everyone else does.
Even when Milwaukee release their pouch style packs they will use commodity cell units. Not even TTI procures enough battery cells to justify a bespoke format. It wouldn’t surprise me if they end up using the same cells as DeWalt and Flex.
What I’m curious about is what they’ll do for M12 HD batteries? They’ve already announced the M12 HO batteries, which use higher current 2500 mAh cells (nothing special), and there’s a Milwaukee patent for a battery that uses 18650 cells in the handle (like they do now) along with 21700 cells in the base.
That would naturally fit the HO narrative, but with pouch cells on the horizon could we see a hybrid 18650/pouch cell pack? Will they skip the 21700 all together for M12?
If so, at what point do the 18650’s become irrelevant and they ditch the current M12 form factor to go for a slide style pack based solely on pouch cells? That will suck for people like me who have a huge collection of M12 tools, but the writing is on the wall since M12 is limited to 18650’s in the handle and the world is moving on.
Hi, Lance. I was on the same tour as Stuart and while I admit it wasn’t not as captivating for me as it was for him, I was pretty darn impressed with the battery lab and remarked that it was not just the one thing – for me, personally – worth seeing but also the one thing I wish we were allowed to photo/videograph for exactly this discussion.
If that lab was just for show, then it sure as heck was one expensive ruse because there were a lot of people and a lot of equipment doing a lot of things that make a lot of sense to people who are a lot smarter than me.
Stuart made it sound like it was for testing the battery packs themselves not actual cells. Even with standard batteries still lots of R&D into creating a battery pack that protects the cells and still lets them cool.
I do agree unless whoever manufactures the pouch cells for dewalt will probably make the same cells for TTI
Hey Lance, be careful my man, you’re using an extra ‘0’ on the end of the cell size, and that’s a no-no according to ole Derek up there ^^. You know, the dude stuck in momma’s basement! Peace!
I’ve seen their battery pack test lab once, before they moved things around. Their cell testing lab is now part of the tour.
This is not for show. If they wanted to just stage what cell testing might look like, they could do so for a small fraction of the cost, and few people would ever know the difference.
The last time I was on this tour, I was given permission to walk around the lab, and I spotted equipment that I never would have guessed would be used for cell testing and analysis.
There are far more impressive ways to stage cell testing than with scientific equipment and test apparatus that few people will be able to identify or recognize.
Even if they’re just selecting from off-the-shelf cell candidates, they put a lot of attention to pack design, engineering, and testing.
18650s will never be wholly irrelevant. And the M12 platform really isn’t in any dire need of batteries that can push 50A+ as it is. (which newer 4.0s equipped with 25A rated 2.0 cells can already do) The biggest benefactor with the HO 5.0s will be the M12 circular saw at the full depth of cut on super long rips, an application where that saw will rarely ever be used…because it’s a 12V circular saw. 95%+ of the rest of the line has nothing real significant to gain. Just look at Milwaukee’s pipeline event where they stacked up boards or number of screws driven vs the XC 4.0. And get this, the 5.0 did all of 25.8% more 2×4 cuts, because it has 25% more capacity than a 4.0 does. If the 4.0s were being stressed due to heat, which was a big marketing push in regards to the HO vs the 2.0/4.0 then the disparity of cuts per Ah would’ve varied A LOT more than .8%. Both packs are already realistically 50A rated discharge, but only one gets designated “high output” because the 4.0 won’t draw up market hype after being around so long already.
There’s also the funny fact that Milwaukee never even drew a comparison to the XC 6.0. Likely because the stack of 2x4s would’ve been 15-20% higher than HO 5.0 and that would’ve really undermined their marketing game. M12 tools just don’t really need 50A rated batteries, at least the current suite out there doesn’t. If you need a tool that pushes 600-700W+ for extended periods of time you should be in the M18 line anyways. XC 6.0s which can do ~35A pretty comfortably will still be the better battery for the vast majority of M12 tools.
Ofc if battery sales are down and Milwaukee wants to drum up more hype they’ll probably do something with pouch cells in M12. Not that the line really needs them. The battery form factory being in the handle of the tool pretty much makes 18650s the only way to go.
I wonder if the 12 volt platforms with the slide style batteries are going to move up significantly in power, to the point of crushing M12 tools.
DeWalt could theoretically release a pouch battery for their 12v platform pretty easily. The 1.7 Powerstack seems capable of 40-50 amp discharge, given that many people say it’s comparable to the DeWalt 5.0 battery.
With 6 of the pouch cells in a DeWalt 12v tool, they could theoretically hit 80 to 100 amps discharge. Which would be about 2x of what any M12 tool is capable of.
At some point you also become limited by the amperage the motor, circuits and wiring inside the tool can carry. At only 10.8V or whatever the nominal is, you would really need to beef up the circuitry of the tools themselves to handle big amps, and IMO you start moving into a zone of power/cost better served by 18v+ tools.
To me, most of the M12 tools compete on two fronts:
-Premium tools that benefit from the unique M12 form factor, like the Uponor PEX expander, or the mechanics ratchets and right-angle impacts, etc.
-Sub-$100-150 impulse-buy tools like the 3/8” stapler that are easy ‘Why nots’ for a specific project or task.
From what I can see, absolute power is not a priority for either camp, and for the M12 tools that actually needed it (Hackzall and Hatchet) Milwaukee did the smart thing and released an 18v version.
With that in mind, I think the M12 form factor is more of an advantage than a limitation.
If anything, Dewalt has shown that pouch cells can make an 18V pack just as small as their ‘slide style’ 12v pack. No matter how hard they try, they will always be limited by the fact that the battery must hang off the bottom. They will never be able to slide the battery into the grip like M12.
That leaves Dewalt 12v with only one place to compete against their own 20v line, and that is price. If they start chasing ‘M12 crushing’ power, that price advantage evaporates.
I don’t see Milwaukee every changing the battery fitting into the grip of m12 tools otherwise their would be no reason to buy them over m18. My question is can pouch style batteries be rolled into a cylinder shape or must they lay flat?
A slide-to-stick adaptor would be pretty trivial to offer once they finally take the plunge, I’d wager. Keep all the old tools working. But they’re hardly under pressure to make a *lot* more power as it is.
The idea behind their dual battery OPE is that you can have more power than corded, but not sustained. Presumably they working on super high output M18 that can continuously discharge 2kW down to 0% without overheating and saving higher density pouches for compact batteries.
The lyric “I’ve seen the future, I can’t afford it” comes to mind.
What’s with this newfound emphasis on safety? I haven’t heard of any DeWalt or Flex batteries going up in smoke. The DeWalt 1.7s seem to be immensely popular, too.
Not that safety isn’t important. But why is the marketing angle focused on safety this time around? Unless DeWalt’s popular pouches start exploding a year after release, then I don’t think we have much to worry about.
Every brand should be emphasizing safety.
Power tools tend to be used (and abused) much differently compared to the environments pouch cells are typically designed for.
And, keep in mind the exploding Samsung phones and balance boards from a few years ago.
Dewalt has a single 1.7Ah battery, I’d guess because they’re testing the waters or still developing larger sizes. If they were ready, they’d have a range of stacked-style batteries similar to Flex by now.
Honestly the safety emphasis is only becoming more and more important. With tools becoming more powerful the danger posed by kickback or a torque reaction from a jammed bit or blade becomes higher too. Also as batteries are becoming higher and higher capacity, and that’s dangerous the same way a jug of gasoline is. There’s a lot of power trapped in those chemicals inside the battery pack, if something were to go wrong it absolutely could cause harm. The bigger/better the battery the bigger the fire.
This is correct. We’re used to thinking of batteries as totally inert, benign objects that pose a vanishingly small risk of fire or other injury. However as power density and discharge capacity increase the risk rises accordingly. In response we have to evolve our thinking of batteries as something more akin to gasoline than to a AA energizer.
Milwaukee is late to this pouch cell party, so safety is all their marketing department has left to trumpet. Milwaukee absolutely HAS to be the best at something, all the time, so now they will add “safest” to their list of overused “est” verbiage. Safest, longest, best, brightest, fastest, quietest, quickest, most powerfulest…
Come to think of it, Milwaukee has been soundly beaten in the battery game. Their only battery “innovation” since M12/M18 launched was to make bigger and bigger batteries. Using dual batteries, cell cooling, variable cell configurations, pouch cells… you name it, Milwaukee has fallen behind instead of leading.
Actually that’s not true either. Dewalt Flexvolt 6.0 was the first pack to use a 3P array of 18650s. The M18 9.0 came out a few months later and was then eventually discontinued and replaced by the 8.0 due to all the issues it had. The Flexvolt battery was a much bigger innovation than the 9.0 HD ever was.
Then it was Metabo, Dewalt and Bosch who were some of the first to market with larger form factor packs using 20700s (and later updated those form factors to 21700 as they became available) Dewalt had the first packs with 3P 20700s/21700s with the Flexvolt 9.0. So Milwaukee actually following the competition is pretty much a universal fact going all the way back to 2005.
People always try to give Milwaukee the crown for having the first Li-Ion powered battery platform too. Except what 99.9% of people don’t know is that Makita launched a 14.4V line using 18650s, which is still the most commonly used cell to this day, months before V18 debuted. And Milwaukee’s V18 line of batteries used a dead end format, AKA 26650, which didn’t allow the production of slim packs. So they eventually abandoned all their 26650 lines (V18, V28) and focused solely on M18 which originally launched in 2008. And M12 somewhere around the same time IIRC, both using 18650s.
Not to say Makita didn’t also have issues early on with their 14.4V/18V Li-Ion tools either. Battery failures on their line were also rampant in the early days due to lack of proper cell balance and overdischarge protections. This was later corrected with star protection, but that came at the cost of some backwards compatibility between newer higher capacity batteries and older high draw tools. Those 2 lines are still the overall longest running Li-Ion ones going to this day. 16 and 17 years. Ryobi has the overall longest running platform with NiCad to Li-Ion interoperability, but their One+ (green) line didn’t debut until ~2007.
Ofc there’s still a contingency of people that need to heap praise on Milwaukee at every turn despite the facts not actually supporting their feelings. Milwaukee is 110% winning the influencer marketing game.
Milwaukee makes a lot of great tools, but the amount of undue or undeserved praise they get at every turn is just obnoxious.
As for pouch cells my knowledge in regards to who makes what and how they perform is quite limited compared to cylindrical cells so I’m not who the major players really are and what they’re exactly making, spec/data sheet wise, yet . But it’s extremely highly likely that Milwaukee will just end up sourcing their pouch cells from the same supplier(s) as Flex or Dewalt. It’s really not going to be any different of a situation than them primarily sourcing their super special “red lithium” 18650/21700 cells primarily from Samsung.
You know, many of the exact same cells you can find in Dewalt, Makita, Bosch, Ryobi, Metabo, Ridgid, HiKoki, Kobalt, Flex, etc, etc, etc….packs.
Respectfully, that is incorrect.
Milwaukee announced their M18 HD 9.0Ah battery pack with (15) cells a full year before Dewalt announced their FlexVolt 6.0Ah battery pack with (15) cells.
Milwaukee did recently discontinue the 9Ah battery, presumably due to redundancy. There’s no need for an 18650-based 15-cell 9Ah battery between 21700-based 8Ah (10-cell) and 12Ah (15-cell) battery packs.
Milwaukee’s M18 HD 9Ah battery was announced in June 2015: https://toolguyd.com/milwaukee-m18-6ah-9ah-batteries/
Dewalt’s FlexVolt lineup was announced in June 2016: https://toolguyd.com/dewalt-flexvolt-plus-new-20v-max-tools/
Dewalt went with 20700 for their 9Ah battery – or at least that was the plan – and Milwaukee went straight to 21700.
Does it matter today who was first? Nope. Will it matter 5 years from now the order in which brands introduced different sizes of next-gen battery cells? Nope. Still, the progress of next-gen advancements are nonetheless interesting in the here and now.
Makita’s tools were not high power. Basically capable of driving screws into light material. Bosch also had a low power li-ion tool.
However, Milwaukee had the first HIGH POWER li-ion tools when they introduced the V28 line in 2005. These tools and batteries were truly revolutionary in that they provided corded level power in a cordless tool for the first time. They took the industry by complete surprise as the major cell suppliers (Sanyo, Sony and Panasonic at the time) had all claimed that high power lithium ion wasn’t possible.
Agreed. For too long we let overseas manufacturers play down safety and even forgo some very basic safety features in the name of lower cost. Lithium chemistries are already quite powerful and as we pursue more and stress the energy output more, safety does become even more important.
If you’ve ever seen the effects of vented or burned lithium cells on skin, eyes, mucous membranes, and/or lungs…it’s nothing to play around with and it can be a whole lot more than just a venting flame or a bang, etc. And if that happens to occur when you’re, say, in a crawlspace or high up on a ladder or lift…just hope that never happens. It’s bad enough with the relatively lower energy sources used in so many devices but with bikes and cars and even tools, there’s a lot of potential right in our faces.
I’m too used to claims like 50% more power and runs 50% cooler. And can’t forget about the REDLithium technology. I was expecting blow-up diagrams of the new batteries showing how the pouches would be colored red.
It makes sense though. Milwaukee needs to show their investors SOMETHING as I’m sure plenty of them are wondering why DeWalt leapfrogged Milwaukee, the ostensible industry leader in battery technology.
But Milwaukee doesn’t want to sandbag its current battery sales by promising a groundbreaking battery with 100% more power and runs 300% cooler that’s coming in the near future. So I guess the claims of focusing on safety make sense.
I haven’t heard of any Dewalt or Flex problems either. I bought two of the Dewalt Powerstack batteries shortly after they launched, I’ve been using them regularly and I’ve had zero complaints so far. That said, I have heard of pouch cells from other things, like portable electronics or R/C models, failing–sometimes in a rather spectacular manner. There are also some known thermal issues with some of the M18 HO tools, so I imagine that Milwaukee wants to play it safe, though I’m sure Dewalt and Flex are doing the same.
Lipo/LiOn “pouch cells” can get punctured. And eventually result in a thermal event. One that you can’t easily extinguish. They don’ explode, but more a slow chemical ignition and burn.
There is a reason some laptop makers put security screws on cases…to prevent accidental damage to the “pouch cells”.
Drops are more common with power tools, as is abuse like user throwing tool into a vehicle, or dropping while on a ladder.
Pouch style batteries are notorious for igniting because they are encased in a soft film which can be easily punctured unlike 18650 cells which are inside metal tubes which very durable, so they will have to do a lot of work on the battery housing to make sure it can not transfer any impacts to puncture the batteries inside
Safety issue is overblown.
All phones use pouch cells and have been for years.
People drop their phones all the time and phones rarely–emphasis on rarely–blow up.
The pouch battery in a phone is hardly protected either. It’s sandwiched between two sheets of glass on most phones.
For power tools, the cells will be sandwiched between something slightly more durable than glass.
Finally, the proof is in the pudding. DeWalt and Flex don’t seem to have any fire issues with their pouch cells. Which is more than what we can say for something like the M18 9.0 battery.
Speaking of phones, there’s this YouTube channel dedicated to durability testing phones, which
involves bending phones until the frame buckles and the glass cracks.
Haven’t seen a pouch cell explode in his hands yet. Nor have I noticed any burn scars.
Liability. All the companies now preach Safety, not because they care but because we live in a litigious society. Not only that it’s good P.R. Nobody wants to be known for batteries blowing up and burning down someone’s house, killing a few people.
Makita says “I can’t see”
The problem is you get new companies + new production runs + new technologies means testing and testing and more testing.
Lipo batteries are not new. Phones have them, rc packs have them etc. The intelligence needed to run them safely can be entirely on the tool side (cellphones), or on the charger (rc packs) or on the packs themselves or a mixture of the 3. They definitely wear out the more you use them but they do charge and discharge a lot faster. To compensate they sacrifice capacity on both ends from the start and rely on the electronics to manage them, keep the cells balanced, increase capacity as the internal resistance increases to compensate etc. Milwaukee doesn’t make the chip or comes out withe the specs of how to set them up to manage specific cells. They just put it all together.
*Shrug* ‘Kay. Good to know they’re on the job there. “When they’re ready” is a much better answer than a deadline.
It’s Milwaukee… Why do I need to say more? They’ll be fine when they get there.
I guess I was mistaken thinking the new M12 HO batteries were pouch based. I knew they couldn’t use 21700, and figured it was similar to DeWalt having an lower amp hour battery, but higher power output in pouch style.
“We have reached practical limits as to the power output and charge capacities of cylindrical-sized li-ion battery cells.”
What about Tesla’s latest 4680 battery?
It has lower power output per volume, similar to 5Ah 21700 cells. Not really suitable for power tools.
99% likely Milwaukee will just source from the same suppliers as everyone else. As per usual.
No different than a Dewalt 12.0 vs Milwaukee 12.0 which both used Samsung 40T 21700s. Or 5.0 XC batteries which use Samsung 25R (sometimes LG or Sanyo) like the dozen other brands out there with 5.0 Ah batteries. Although somehow Milwaukee is magically the better cold weather performer despite using the same cells as everyone else. (thankfully Project Farm disproved that one)
Just going to be “Red Lithium” 2.0. The usual marketing hype to get less informed consumers primed to buy things they don’t actually understand all that well.
What other battery tech might Milwaukee be working on? Maybe solid state, which is a long ways behind Lithium polymer/pouch.
Did anything come of graphene? https://toolguyd.com/cat-cordless-power-tools/
Not that I’ve seen or heard.
CAT has added a new graphic to depict the graphene battery, but their “technologies” description is nothing more than a couple of general marketing claims.
CAT only put graphene on the pack surface with the function of heat dissipation, not in the battery.
It’s just a joke.
Actually,they don’t know battery
Thank you for supporting power tool battery discussions and information sharing. Do you have any “favorite battery-related sites or reading lists” that might be a good place to start for others that have growing interest in rechargeable batteries and systems (grin)?
I enjoyed reading every comment, and I learned a lot. Thank you all for sharing your wealth of knowledge, including Derek for making sure I don’t become an idiot 🙂
I don’t see the value of new battery technology in power tools since the developing cost will translate into the buyer’s wallet, and there is not much of a benefit to gain!
IMO, the focus should go to electric efficiency, meaning electric motors and electric boards. I see Ego doing it right!
Also, Maybe give the consumers the option to run the cordless tool on a power wall like Metabo HPT MultiVolt AC adapter!
Focusing on electric efficiency will postpone the current race of achieving the best and greatest numbers regarding speed, torque, and run time. And switch the race to design features, reliability, and new tool categories.
This might be of some use. Took me a little while to find 😉
Silicon based battery by TTi.
Milwaukee, the marketing company first, tool company 2nd
Milwaukee pouch batteries will only be exciting for me if they are offered at a competitive price. Their current small form factor battery (CP3.0) is vastly overpriced compared to competitive options. A 2-pack of CP3.0 batteries is on sale at HD right now for $120, making them about $20/Ah. Other good brands offer small form factor batteries using 21700 cells (or 2170 if you prefer) at around $10/Ah or even less (when on sale or from bargain sources like Amazon or eBay). There is no reason why Milwaukee’s small batteries should be double the cost of the competition – but I guess they wouldn’t price them that way if people didn’t buy them!
You know it’s ridiculous when Hilti has cheaper batteries. And Hilti isn’t using commodity Korean 21700 cells like Milwaukee. Hilti is actually using bespoke low resistance 21700 cells manufactured by an Austrian company.
Hilti Nuron 4Ah is listed at $121. M18 3.0 is $120. Milwaukee still doesn’t have a CP 4.0 unlike most competitors.
Hilti Nuron 12Ah is $217. M18 12.0 is $249.
And keep in mind those Nuron batteries are 22v not 18v, so they use extra cells.