PopSci Teardown: Black & Decker Matrix Quick Connect System

How a cordless drill replaces an entire workbench’s worth of gear.

For everyday jobs, a do-it-yourselfer needs—at minimum—a drill, saw, and sander. Black & Decker engineers have created a tool, the Matrix, that replaces all three, plus many more. The 20-volt Matrix drill has a detachable head, which users can replace with any of six others (including a sander, an impact driver, a jigsaw, and an oscillating tool), each with the gearing necessary for its specific task.


When the user pulls the trigger, a variable-speed switch draws power from the 20-volt lithium-ion battery and transfers it to the motor. The farther back the user pulls the trigger, the more power the switch draws and the faster the motor will rotate.


The motor turns a five-sided metal male joint that connects to a matching female joint
affixed to the unique transmission of each tool head, be it drill/driver or oscillating tool [both shown]. Designers surrounded both joints with durable nylon housings, which help hold them together.


The drill/driver head transmission consists of a set of two planetary gears. As they turn, they reduce the motor’s 24,000 rpms to 800. The decrease in speed increases the torque delivered to the drill’s driveshaft, allowing the tool to bore wide holes and drive long screws into tough materials.


Two gears transfer the motor’s rotation to a steel shaft in the base of the oscillating tool head. The shaft spins against a ball bearing offset by 0.8 millimeter, which creates an ovoid rotation. From there, a fork moves the driveshaft in an orbital pattern. Users can fit the oscillating head with a variety of blades to plunge or flush cut, sand, scrape, or grind.


Because driving screws is the only task in which users need the tool to spin in both directions, all the other attachments disable the forward/reverse switch. Designers added a section of lower housing to each head that, when attached, presses against a 0.06-inch steel bar that prevents the switch from toggling to reverse.

Weight: 3 pounds, 4 ounces (with drill head)
Heads: 7
Price: $70 (with drill head), additional heads from $30