Wright Tool has announced a new socket technology, which they say delivers 10X more contact area on the square drive, for more torque, greater grip, and less failure.
The new Wright WrightSquare process is a modification of the square drive, where load and stress are relocated away from the corners.
Update: I checked with Wright and was told this will be a standard feature on “all 3/4″ drive sockets and larger – chrome and impact” and that it will not affect the price.
The company says that this enhances performance and increases socket life, and that this applies to sockets that attach to ratchets or impact tools.
Wright shows that conventional sockets have square drive recesses with slightly rounded corners.
WrightSquare square drive recesses have greater space at the corners.
From the provided images, the corners aren’t simply eased with a greater radius; it appears that the corners are pushed slightly outwards, providing more clearance for the anvil corners without sacrificing a lot of contact area between flat mated surfaces.
If you envision how the square drive anvil engages with and turns a socket, it does seem that WrightSquare can relocate stress away from the corners, helping to reduce wear.
All of this is an extension of Wright’s proven WrightDrive 2.0 technology, where similar has been done on the fastener-engagement side.
Wright’s WrightDrive 2.0 technology provides greater fastener engagement by rounding the inner corners of their sockets. WrightSquare does similar, but on the tool drive end side of sockets.
WrightDrive 2.0 can be found in Wright’s 6pt and 12pt sockets.
Premium Wright alloy steel increases strength, and precision broaching gives users the most consistent quality and tolerance levels achievable.
And at the bottom of every Wright webpage:
Over 99% of Wright branded products are manufactured in the USA. The less than 1% of Wright branded products manufactured outside the USA still meet our strict quality standards. Country of origin is always disclosed on the product, packaging, and/or product page.
Wright’s WrightSquare Patent
The patent application (US 10442059 B2, PDF) explains the reasoning behind the new WrightSquare feature in more technical detail. Here are the parts I found most interesting, with line breaks added for easier readability:
While the Wright Drive improvement was very helpful for the socket end of a socket wrench, no one had previously considered a similar improvement to the drive end in the over 25 years that this improved design has been employed.
More particularly, the drive end of sockets has not been improved in a similar manner in at least the 60 years since hexagonal sockets were developed.
Thus, while engineered solutions to the socket end has resulted in thinner-walled, lighter-weight, less expensive, and longer life sockets, it is the drive end of sockets that needs improvements in order to satisfy the long-felt needs of the industry for a more robust and light-weight tool.
There are various differences between the socket end and the drive end of a socket. As already discussed, unlike the socket end, which has various configurations for the multitude of fastener-types to be engaged, the same drive end design is utilized over a broad range of socket types, including the hexagonal-type of the Wright Drive design, but also in the more demanding spline socket designs, among others.
Also as mentioned, the drive end of the socket is governed by different industry standards, having different tolerances and clearances with which engineered solutions must comply. In addition, the drive anvil (or drive square) that engages the socket is usually harder and stronger than the material composing the socket body, which can cause excessive wear and stress on the drive end of the socket that is receiving the torque load.
This is especially the case where the sockets are being used with impact wrenches that deliver high torque output by storing energy in a rotating mass, such as a hammer, and which suddenly deliver the energy to the output shaft. These rapid, high-energy bursts can damage the socket at the drive end, and where these bursts of energy are repetitiously delivered at the stress-riser of a sharp corner, premature failure of the socket may occur.
Hmm, can’t help but wonder if that updated design will feel/seem loose when attached due to the extra large corner gaps allowing more movement?
It’s probably so small as to be negligible. I’m not sure how much of a benefit the new design would be though.
When a ratchet or breaker bar fails, seems to me it usually just twists off outside of the socket. I’ve never had the drive square round over inside the socket.
If there’s a manufacturer out there that makes this style socket AND and a standard style, maybe we’ll see a showdown on Project Farm.
I’ve seen lots of mushroomed square drive ends and besides, like above mentioned, it’s probably very small. I like Koken tools design on the ball retention cut out. Much tighter feel.
Is this new? I would swear I have old sockets with similarly eased out interior corners.
The PR came in recently and is dated March 2023, and so it seems to be a new standard feature for Wright.
The patent application goes back to 2014 and was granted in 2019 – https://patents.google.com/patent/US10442059B2
Eased corners are typical.
From the graphics provided to me, it looks like the side walls are ramped out a little towards the extended-out radius, as opposed to being eased to a greater radius. With some of my sockets, other brands seem to have simply increased the radius, but that also reduces surface area between flats.
The patent puts this in more specific langauge:
I just checked my cheapo Husky set and they all have a slightly bowed in wall on all the drive slots. I’d be really surprised if Husky’s OEM is ahead of the industry, so it seem like Wright is just late?
Some brands used what they called “flank-drive” to engage the fastener better along the sides and perhaps avoid stress concentrations at the corners. That’s at the socket end where the tool engages the fastener. I’m not sure about the drive end – and what all others have done to improve it. I do remember Ko-Ken (Japan) advertising their Z-series sockets as actually having a tighter fit at the drive end achieved – they say – by a better grip on the ball-bearing detent.
I’ve seen it before as well. I guess the socket contacts more in the middle instead of the points to prevent rounding of fasteners. I know several others have done something like this, but I can’t quite remember who…
I think that “flank-drive” is a trademark of SnapOn – but it seems that other vendors may not respect that trademark. Tekton and others also seem to look-alike (at least to by eyes) sockets – without calling them “flank drive”.
The patent ran out forty years ago, pretty much every decent socket has it now.
I’m not a lawyer but understand that patents and trademarks are separate and apart. For instance, Kimberly-Clark has a registered trademark for “Kleenex” facial tissues – but there is not any currently running patent on the idea. So other paper companies are free to make facial tissues – but they can’t call theirs “Kleenex.”
So, if Justia Trademarks is correct in that SnapOn has a registered trademark for “Flank Drive” for use in describing sockets/wrenches, then other companies should not be using the term to describe their products. As you point out – it would seem that many other manufacturers use the design principle (the original patents having run out) – but most (not all) seem to respect SnapOn’s trademark so don’t call theirs “Flank Drive.”
Yep, that’s exactly how it works. A patent protects a specific design or process and gives a period of time (20 years in the States) of exclusive right to produce that design.
A contrast to the patent would be the trade secret. If I patented a new way to make a screwdriver, it’s mine and mine alone for 2 decades, but after that it’s fair game. If I kept it a trade secret, I have no legal protection unless I could prove that someone stole the secret rather than coming up with it themselves, but the info on how my process works isn’t published for the public if I keep it secret and maybe nobody else figures it out.
A trademark is perpetual as long as it’s not abandoned, and can be registered but doesn’t necessarily have to be (registering helps though), and is just a thing like a brand logo or a trade name for their specific line of whatever it is they sell. Trademarks usually cover the rights to identify a company or a product as something to distinguish themselves. So only Proto can call themselves Proto tools, but if there’s no Mount Olympus Tool Co you can call your company that, and if there’s no wrench design marketed as the Crab Claw then you’re free to call to market them as Crab Claw wrenches and trademark the use of Crab Claw to describe wrenches.
I also want to add as a personal note that Milwaukee goes insane with giving everything a name and it drives me nuts. Can’t just call it new product announcements, it’s called The Pipeline(tm). So now others presumably can’t call their announcements page a Pipeline. The Fastback(tm) knife is Press And Flip ™ just like a lot of other knives. They’re claiming a trademark on saying it is press and flip. Why? Hole Dozers as their hole saws, I dig it because it’s a clever little pun. But they have Rip Guard(tm) teeth and Plug Jack(tm) plug removal, is that necessary? Jackets with Axis(tm) layering and FreeFlex(tm) gusseting and QuietShell(tm) allegedly quieter material. Alright we get it guys. Most others aren’t obsessed with making every feature anyways so I don’t get the point of all the trademark claims.
That may be an old tradition from Milwaukee Tools earliest days. They called their reciprocating saw a “Sawzall” and trademarked that name. The name became almost synonymous with the whole category of tool. Their other names like “hole-hawg” were perhaps less influential as monikers in the broader market.
It can be a problem for manufacturers when their trademarked name becomes what a whole class of offerings from the competition is commonly called. Brands like Xerox and Kleenex come to mind – but in the world of tools many still call most any circular saw a “skil-saw”
“New socket technology” is truly comical marketing. Innovative or alternative design is more appropriate.
Leaving the corners square but adding a slight curvature (convex) to each of the 6 point walls would achieve the same results….maybe even slightly better. This way, you’re not removing any more material from the corners.
In the hex sockets and hexkeys Wera does something similar that is called Hexplus. Works great!
Where would they use this square fit? On the 1/2, 3/8 and 1/4 drive receiving end of their sockets?
I’m trying to decide if this would actually be an improvement.
I understand the “off-corner engagement” radius present on modern sockets is supposed to place greater stress on the flats of the fastener instead of the corners. Snap-on invented it, but now everyone else has it too (Proto’s “anti-slip design”, for example). Wright is just applying this concept to the drive end.
The drive end seems a bit different though. It’s square instead of hex and the anvil fits more deeply into the square recess than a bolt typically would fit in the other side. Perhaps more importantly, how often are you stripping drive anvils vs. fasteners?
It seems like the idea is that you could push an undersized ratchet a little harder before it gives up – but when I’ve broken drive tools (breaker bars typically), they just twist and shear off near where they attach to the handle. They DON’T just round over the corners of the anvil or the inside of the socket.
Yeah I agree, this is solving a problem that doesn’t exist. I’ve broken plenty of sockets, square drives, you name it from 1/4″ up to 1″ drive and I’ve never seen a square drive round over.
My major takeaway is they actually make their sockets in the U S of A.
Beyond that rather unusual situation I’ve no idea of the need or validity of their patent efforts.
But hey. “Made in the USA”. Just like Mr. Springsteen.
If anyone new to the Wright brand is going down a rabbit hole, they are solid. I have a couple of ratchets and they are FAN-tastic.
For some reason this reminds me of that scene from Spinal Tap. This amp goes to 11.
Very interesting design on these sockets.
Does anyone know anything about capri tools?
I ran across them on amazon and can’t find any information about them.
They make mid-range stuff that is generally well-regarded. Mostly Taiwan production. They’re roughly in the same ballpark as Sunex and Tekton. There’s a few standout items like the mini bolt cutters, for example.
I agree, I have a set of 30 year old 3/4 drive impacts. I don’t think you could destroy them if you tried.
Wright makes great tools. USA made (for most of them). You get what you pay for. I have a couple. I think I have some sockets and extensions. I bought them to replace other old craftsman that had worn out. The fit and finish is great. If they are in your price range, I would not hesitate to recommend them.
As for these new socket designs, I am not sure they are as revolutionary design as marketing would state, but maybe slightly better.
Where I first found Wright tools is from Harry Epstein’s. I know they like to carry USA made tools like these.
I think that I first saw Wright sockets at a nearby hardware store – perhaps it was the late 1940’s – on a trip with my dad.
In those post-WWII days – it seemed to me (as a boy then teenager) that hardware stores were springing up all over the suburbs that were being built to accommodate GIs back from war and starting families. I guess that many of the individual stores wanted to distinguish themselves from their nearby competitors by carrying some different lines of tools. Or perhaps it was manufacturers reps who cut deals with stores to promote their brands within certain geographic markets. That seemed to carry through into the 1950s and ’60’s when I started buying tools for myself. So, within something like a 10-to-15-mile radius of my home I could find several hardware stores – one carrying Armstrong, another Crescent, another Martin, another Proto, another Williams, and yet another Wright. The same was true for Auto Parts stores carrying brands like Blackhawk, Bonney, Proto and SK (SK-Wayne). The variety of USA-made tools was nice – but selection was often limited by store size (although they had catalogs to order from) and you usually paid at or near list price.
BTW – I looked for what Wright Tools that I may have collected over the years . Looks like I have two 3/8 inch drive ratchets (#3340 and #3440) and that’s it. Most of my personal sockets seem to be from Williams.
An old inventory for our plumbing business showed a few more items:
#9076 – 1/2-inch drive 5-point water meter box sockets being the most prevalent item. We also had – some 1/2-inch drive 8-point sockets (#4330, #4334, #4336 and #4340).
Snap On prices with a “limited lifetime warranty” and no visiting sales and service representatives to personally handle issues or problems with their tools? No wonder I have never heard of them! Kudos for being USA made but not really in the game for serious playtime.
Snap-on prices? For $2100 I’ve got a broad range of Wright that would easily cost double on the truck even with the driver “cutting you a deal.” 3/8 drive 6-19mm, $111. Or you can get 2 less sockets for more than twice as much money through Snappy, if you get suckered into paying list ($247), and even at half list you’re paying more for less tools.
But they also don’t run trucks because they aren’t peddling predatory loans to kids fresh out of tech school wanting to work on cars. It’s an industrial brand, they’ll show up with the company’s weekly orders of aluminum bar stock and taps and dies for the machine shop, and the work gloves and earpro for the guys out on the shop floor, anyway.
20 something years too late or more.
I meam it’s that extension of the bowed areas contacting the flats like has been the standard on the nut engagement end for some 30 years.
Someone said it I think Snapon and Mac, and a few others did this years ago – but I will say in the 3/4 drive realm it might actually be new.
I don’t play on 3/4 drive often – I don’t even own a set myself. but the few that I do have are axel nut sockets (34mm, etcetc) and they are squared much more than any of me 1/2, 3/8 or 1/4.
anyway as another thing – same wright tools aren’t easier to find/buy but now I need to go look.
I’m not sure I really get the benefit of doing this on the drive end. Obviously it’s often a benefit on the fastener interface and has been for over 30 years.
Makes me wonder if they’ve seen some particular failure issues in their broach corners (stress riser) or if it’s something to benefit their end on the tooling used in manufacturing, rather than the end user…or perhaps some issues with poor anvil sizing out there.
If they’re only doing it on 3/4″ and larger drives then perhaps they’ve had failures. In years of socket warranty replacement (selling them) including a hefty share of 3/4″ and 1″ drive sizes, I don’t recall ever seeing a failure on the drive end of a socket save for the mushrooming-wear-and-tear from an impact that is normal and expected. I don’t think even the cheap China extra large chrome socket sets ever came back to use with failure there, and people would abuse the horse out of those in industrial and oil field situations.
Would be interested to look at comparative data between square drive designs, cyclical & ultimate fatigue failures to validate Wright Tools claim.