Staple gun redesign

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This article was contributed as part of a design project for the course 24-441 Engineering Design in the spring semester of 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University.




Our first step in researching the opportunities for improvement of our staple gun was to conduct a short survey to identify the common user's wants, needs, and complaints. 47 different people took our survey. The following is an overview of the results that we found: (Click on each question for a more detailed list of data.)

1. How often do you use this product? (multiple choice)

  • Often: 6.38%
  • Sometimes: 42.55%
  • Seldom: 42.55%
  • Never: 8.51%

2. What would be your most typical use for this product? (free response)

  • booth, construction, and household repairs
  • attaching various items to bulletin boards, walls, or wood
  • hanging Christmas lights

3. What complaints do you have about using a staple gun? (free response)

Most common responses:

  • hard to squeeze trigger handle
  • refilling is not intuitive and/or annoying
  • not safe
  • staples get jammed
  • hard to alight/low accuracy
  • difficult to reach hard to get areas
  • staple doesn't go all the way into the material
  • hurts after prolonged use

4. What do you like about staple guns you have used in the past? (free reponse)

Most common responses:

  • easy to use
  • fast
  • powerful
  • reliable
  • easy to load

5. If you were buying a staple gun, what features would make you more inclined to buy one over another? (free response)

Most common responses:

  • easy to squeeze
  • comfortable grips
  • durability
  • lightweight
  • powerful
  • easy to load/unload
  • price
  • auto-trigger
  • trigger-lock/safety latch

6. What other tools/items would you commonly use in conjunction with a staple gun? (free response)

Most common repsonses:

  • hammer
  • nails
  • nail gun
  • screwdriver
  • glue
  • staples
  • drill
  • ruler
  • posters/paper

7. Any other comments? (free response)

  • staple gun with lever function/trigger would be nice
  • ability to select different size staples without having to reload gun



Image of someone using a staple gun in a low place.


Image of someone using a staple gun on a surface while wearing work gloves.


Image of someone using a staple gun in a normal position against a wall.


Image of someone using a staple gun in a high, hard to reach position, with the gun oriented sideways.


The table below shows our value opportunity analysis. We completed this after examining the staple gun and conducting research. This chart will act as a ranking scheme to show us how important each new design is. If a new design fulfills a need that is very important based on the VOA then we will know that it is a better design than one that fulfills a need that is not very important. Image:Team_3_VOA.jpg

Design Problem and Opportunities

Before we began our research, the group came up with a number of improvements that we thought would be important to have on a staple gun. In order to determine if these kind of changes to the staple gun would be considered improvements by the average user, we conducted the research discussed above. Through this research we were able to determine more clearly our design problem and identify a number of opportunities for improvement that we may not have thought of before.

Although our design problem has been more clearly identified after conducting research, it is still somewhat vague. This is due to the current product being designed quite well to begin with. It is very durable and intuitive to use, the price is cheap and it is, comparatively, light weight. Using the research and knowledge of the current product we have decided that our main objective in creating a new design is to create a design which will make using a staple gun a generally more pleasant experience. By sticking with such a vague design problem we are able to address the myriad of opportunities that we have identified through our research. These opportunities include:

  • Improve Handle Design
By improving the handle design we could make the staple gun more ergonomical and
easier to squeeze.
  • Improve Reloading Mechanism
Reloading is the least intuitive part of using a staple gun.  We would like to make
reloading a less confusing task.
  • Increase Mobility
Staple guns are somewhat unwieldy and difficult to carry around.  They can also
often be quite heavy and cumbersome.  Cutting down the weight of the staple gun and
adding an attachment for a tool belt would make them easier to move around with.
  • Incorporate Accessories
Staple guns have a broad range of uses and are very often used in conjunction with a
number of other tools.  Any other tools that we can incorporate into the staple gun
are one less item that needs to be carried around when completing the task at hand.
  • Include a Disabling Mechanism
Although we find the staple gun to be a relatively safe tool, many users feel
insecure using the staple gun because they do not normally have safety locks. There
are some current models with "safety" locks on them, but they require the staple gun
to be shot before the safety can be engaged which may not be the best option.

Our current design ideas each address one, if not more, of these opportunities. We hope that our final product will address more than one of these opportunities. We will also be including a list of other, much smaller improvements that we would like to see on a final product that are already on the market and work well or are very small adjustments that can be easily made.



Design 1: Longer Handle This design was created with the intention of making the staple gun easier to squeeze. With a longer handle users would get a greater mechanical advantage and there would be less force required to fire the staple gun.

Design 2: Non-Catching Mechanism This design was created for safety. By not allowing the staple gun to load a staple until is it pressed up against something we can eliminate the most common misuse of the product; firing staples at random across the room.

Design 3: Ratching Mechanism This design was created with hopes of safety as well as ease of use. By using a ratchet the user can put in small amounts of force repeatedly rather than one large amount of force. This would make the product easier to use for weaker people who have diffuculty producing enough force to fire the staple gun as it is. Also, because the ratchet mechanism would require a release button, it would be slightly safer. Users would have to conciously think about firing the staple when they went to the push the button so hopefully they would not just shoot it at radom as much. This also allows the staple gun to be pre-loaded which may be helpful when the user is getting themselves into particularly awkward situations, such as stapling above their head, where it becomes very difficult to get enough force to push down the handle as it is now.

Design 4: Attachment Set Our final design was created as a way to cut down on the number of seperate tools required when working on a project. This was done by incorporating some of the most common tools used along side a staple gun into our current product.

Pugh Chart

We ranked our four designs against the current product using the following Pugh Chart.

Return to the main Staple gun page.

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