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Balldrivers / Hex Keys
Color-Coded Hex Key Kit
Hex Key Thumbscrews
Balldriver and Hex Key Kit
Extra Long Balldriver
Benchtop Organizer with Balldrivers
Hex Key Kit
Non-Magnetic, Titanium Hex Key
Thorlabs offers a wide range of general laboratory tools and tool holders to make the construction of an optomechanical assembly as quick and effortless as possible.
The table to the right lists common balldriver and hex key sizes that are interchangeable. For information on compatible balldrivers/hex keys and various types of screws, please see the Hex Key Compatibility tab.
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Thorlabs' Smart Pack Initiative is aimed at minimizing waste while providing adequate protection for our products. By eliminating any unnecessary packaging, implementing design changes, and utilizing eco-friendly materials, this initiative seeks to reduce the environmental impact of our product packaging.
The updated TC2 packaging primarily consists of recycled paper and cardboard and weighs 12.60% less than the original packaging. This weight change results in a 36.20 kg reduction in travel-based CO2 emissions per year, based on typical product sales.
As we move through our product line, we will indicate re-engineered, eco-friendly packaging with our Smart Pack logo, which can be seen above.
Simplified Balldriver Diagram
Each of the benchtop organizers [e.g. TC2, TC3/M, BT17(/M) and TC4(/M)] have tools which share dimensions across hex sizes that are given below. Individual balldrivers can be purchased individually by clicking on the part in the Item # columns below. We also offer extra-long ball drivers with hex sizes of 3/16" or 5 mm which are not included in our benchtop organizers.
Non-Magnetic Hex Key Diagram
Standard and Color-Coded Hex Key Diagram
Hex Key Dimensions
Thorlabs offers a variety of hex keys. Standard hex keys are included with our benchtop organizers [e.g. TC2, TC3/M, BT17(/M) and TC4(/M)], as well as hex key kits (HK2A98 and HK2B88) and hex key packs (HK050 and 564HK). Titanium, non-magnetic hex keys are offered individually. Finally, we offer hex key sets with color-coded heat-shrink tubing that corresponds to the size of the hex for easy identification. Each of these varieties have slightly different dimensions, which are provided below. Some can be purchased individually by clicking on the part in the Item # columns below.
This balldriver tool kit, available in both imperial and metric sizes, offers a wide range of the most commonly used balldriver and hex key sizes and houses them in a convenient stand. The stand is precision-machined and labeled with a discrete location for each balldriver and hex key. The wide base (IB3) provides stability and easy placement anywhere in the lab. See the Tool Dimensions tab above for the lengths of the included balldrivers and hex keys.
Imperial balldrivers have a yellow handle, while metric balldrivers have a red handle. All balldrivers have a high-strength steel alloy blade.
Among the most essential general-purpose tools in any optics laboratory, balldrivers are used to secure standard cap screws and setscrews in optomechanical assemblies. Balldrivers can be purchased individually or in kits. See the tables to the right for the balldrivers included with each kit.
Unlike standard hex wrenches, the unique hex ball design of the balldriver tips allows them to operate at angles, which is ideal for tightening or loosening screws in hard-to-reach places. Imperial balldrivers have a yellow handle, while metric balldrivers have a red handle. All balldrivers have a high-strength steel alloy blade. The BD-3/16L and BD-5ML have an extra long 8" (20.3 cm) shaft with an overall length of 11" (27.9 cm), including the handle. For the lengths of all of our balldrivers, see the Tool Dimensions tab above.
The BD-1.3M is labeled as a 1.27 mm balldriver. Please note that the industry standard is to round 1.27 mm hex measurements to 1.3 mm, and thus the BD-1.3M is compatible with all 1.3 mm hex components. For compatibility information between other balldrivers/hex keys and screws, see the Hex Key Compatibility tab above.
This benchtop and table organizer saves time and protects mounted optics by providing a temporary storage area on an optical table. Each organizer comes with imperial or metric hex balldrivers as well as two non-reactive plastic dropper bottles with acetone and methanol labels (chemicals not included). The lengths of the included balldrivers are listed in the Tool Dimensions tab above.
The TC4(/M) Tool Caddy is a great balldriver kit organizer that offers a convenient storage area and bolts directly to an optical table. The caddy includes balldrivers and hex wrenches in the sizes listed in the table to the right. Imperial balldrivers have a yellow handle, while metric balldrivers have a red handle. All balldrivers have a high-strength steel alloy blade. The lengths of the included balldrivers and hex keys are listed in the Tool Dimensions tab above.
Use one bit to push another bit out of the handle.
The MBD(/M) Interchangeable Balldriver Sets are 8" (20.3 cm) long from the tip of the bit to the end of the handle and have 3" (7.5 cm) long steel alloy bits. The bit selection in each set was specially chosen to fit the most common hex sizes used in Thorlabs' products. Unlike standard hex wrenches, the unique hex ball design of the balldriver tip allows it to operate at angles, which is ideal for hard-to-reach places.
The MBD set contains seven interchangeable bits (see the table to the right). Six of these bits are stored securely in the yellow handle, while the seventh is pre-inserted into the main shaft, ready for use. The MBD/M set contains six interchangeable bits, which should not be stored in the red handle at the same time. One bit should always be kept in the shaft so that the others can be removed with ease.
To change a bit, firmly pull the bit out of the shaft. Insert the top of the bit that was just removed into the hole on the bottom of the handle that houses the bit you would like to use next. Tightly grip the handle and push the old bit into the hole, which will cause the new bit to come out of a hole located at the base of the shaft, as indicated in the video to the right. Pull out the new bit, and slide the old one the rest of the way in.
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Each key is engraved with its hex size.
Thorlabs' non-magnetic hex keys are offered in nine imperial sizes from 0.050" to 3/16" and six metric sizes from 1.5 mm to 5.0 mm. The 0.050" hex key is fully compatible with a 1.3 mm hex. Made of titanium and resistant to corrosion, these hex keys are suitable for a range of applications in which interference from magnetic tools is undesired. The length and width of these hex keys is listed in the Tool Dimensions tab above.
Hex Key Thumbscrews allow for quick, low-profile adjustment of hex-driven actuators, cap screws, and setscrews. Unlike balldrivers, they can be left in the screw's hex socket between adjustments for convenience. Each size comes in a pack of four thumbscrews. We offer two kits containing one hex key of each size. The HKTS-KIT imperial kit contains 0.050", 5/64", 1/8", 9/64", and 3/16" sizes, and the HKTS-KIT/M metric kit contains 1.3 mm, 1.5 mm, 2 mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm, and 5 mm sizes.
The 5/64" size is especially useful for adjusting our hex-driven kinematic mounts (see photo to the right). In addition, this size is fully compatible with 2.0 mm hex sockets. The 0.050" size is fully compatible with 1.3 mm hex sockets.
Each thumbscrew incorporates an 8-32 setscrew with a 5/64" [2.0 mm] hex that secures the replaceable hex bit, which can be reversed if the tip is stripped. Contact Tech Support to order replacement hex key bits.
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Each Bit is Engraved with Hex Size for Ease of Use
These Hex Driver Bit Kits are compatible with our TD24 and TD75 torque drivers as well as traditional 1/4" socket wrenches. The hex sizes available correspond with many of the hex screws used across our product lines. Each bit is engraved with the hex size as seen in the photo to the right.
Please refer to the engraving on the bit for the appropriate hex size. The sockets have engraved sizes on them that may not match the engraved sizes on the hex bit.
Two of our most commonly used hex key sizes are available in packs of ten. Our 0.050" (1.3 mm) hex keys are primarily used with 4-40 setscrews in our cage plate series, and our 5/64" (2.0 mm) hex keys are used in a wide variety of optomechanical components with 8-32 setscrews.