Milwaukee Forge Battery Technology for M18 and MX Fuel

Milwaukee M18 Forge Battery 6.0Ah

Higher Output and Faster Charging Define Milwaukee Forge Battery Packs

With all the secrets of Milwaukee Pipeline 2023 revealed, one of the most anticipated products featured an update to the Milwaukee battery system. The newest generation is the Milwaukee Forge battery. Should you run out and order one of these M18 or MX Fuel Forge batteries today? I take an in-depth look at the technology inside these battery packs so you can determine if they can improve your workflow. I’ll pay particular attention to performance and runtime improvements as that’s where most of my interest lies.

Is the Milwaukee Forge Battery a Stacked Pouch Cell Pack?

Milwaukee pouch cell batteries

With DeWalt PowerStack and Flex Stacked Lithium both enjoying success with their pouch cell power tool batteries, there have been a lot of questions wondering if Milwaukee was going to develop their own version. The short answer is yes, however, Milwaukee is not ONLY using pouch cells for all their newest batteries. Some include the first tabless cylindrical cell batteries used in power tools.

So, we have the best of both worlds—the very first tabless cylindrical cell batteries and the first Milwaukee pouch cell battery.

Pouch Cells vs Tabless Cylindrical Cells

Before we dive into the specifics of Milwaukee’s Forge batteries, let’s spend a little time talking about the cell technology that’s behind these advanced high-performance packs.

What is a Pouch Cell Battery?

It’s the M18 Forge battery that has pouch cells. This cell design can create a higher power battery in a more compact form factor. There’s significantly lower electrical resistance in the connection resulting in higher potential current flow and more power output for the tool. Even when you don’t need as much power, the energy transfer is more efficient. On the jobsite, you get faster application speeds with existing M18 products.

With more available power, the pouch-cell M18 Forge battery can expand what the tools you already own can do. For example, where you could previously use a four-inch hole saw, now you can use a six-inch hole saw with the same tool.

Additionally, pouch cell packs like the M18 RedLithium Forge XC6.0 run cooler. You can push them harder for longer without the tool stopping to protect itself from high temperatures. You can also charge them incredibly fast compared to traditional cells—another benefit of lower electrical resistance and heat buildup.

What is a Tabless Cylindrical Cell Battery?

MX Fuel RedLithium Forge batteries are the first batteries in the industry to leverage tabless cylindrical cell technology (Ryobi Edge batteries were announced later also using a tabless design). When you open up a cylindrical cell, you get what’s lovingly called a “Jelly Roll”. Open up that Jelly Roll on a traditional lithium cell and you find an electrode where you have a cathode, a separator and then an anode.

One of the challenges with prior generation cell technology is that the current has to flow a relatively long distance from the active material out to the tabbing structure. Then, when it gets to the tabbing structure, you have very little “real estate” for all that current to flow through. It creates higher electrical resistance that a tabless cell design eliminates.

Larger RedLithium Forge batteries like the MX Fuel XC8.0 and HD12.0 packs and M18 HD12.0 packs use tabless cells. With these, the current has a much shorter distance to travel and gives you a much larger surface area. From a cell standpoint, this means that it has a significantly lower electrical resistance. Similar to the advantages of pouch cells, it can put out higher power and run cooler.

Advantages of Tabless and Pouch Cell Technologies

As we said, by reducing resistance, you can safely push more current through the system. More current means more power to the tool. Optimizing the physics of energy transfer is how Milwaukee continues to get more power out of a system without changing the voltage.

Keeping in mind that it’s the connection that provides the benefit rather than the shape alone, Milwaukee’s development of both pouch cells and tabless cells evens the playing field with higher voltage systems. It may even have an advantage in its ability to use spacing and material to draw heat away from the cells.

Milwaukee M18 Forge Battery

M18 Fuel Circular Saw

With the initial launch, there’s one Milwaukee M18 Forge battery on the roll call and it’s the pouch cell XC6.0. From a power delivery standpoint, it’s capable of providing the same watts as the 12.0Ah High Output battery. That’s a big deal when it comes to workload. Each cell in the Forge pack has to deliver twice the current of the cells in that larger 12.0Ah pack while preventing overheating and maintaining a long service life.

M18 Fuel RedLithium Forge XC60 battery

As for charging, the battery is capable of an 80% super charge to 5.0Ah of capacity in just 15 minutes. From there, it slows down to top itself off. A full charge cycle from 0% to full takes only 25 minutes.

Even though there’s more current running through it, Milwaukee promises the M18 Forge battery has the longest life, most recharges, and best performance available compared to the standard and High Output RedLithium packs.

As a bonus, these packs are also designed to have better protection against common oils, grease, and solvents.

Finally, as we expect, RedLink intelligence monitors against overload and the battery is fully compatible with all M18 and M18 Fuel products.

Milwaukee M18 Forge Battery Price

  • M18 RedLithium Forge 6.0Ah: $199
  • M18 RedLithium Forge 12.0Ah: TBA (launching in the second half of 2024)

Milwaukee MX Fuel Forge Battery

Milwaukee MX Fuel Forge 12.0Ah Battery

For those of you replacing your gas equipment with Milwaukee MX Fuel products, you have two Forge batteries to look forward to. A new 8.0Ah MX Fuel Forge battery offers 33% more runtime than the current 6.0Ah pack. There’s also a 12.0Ah MX Fuel Forge battery for when you need the highest capacity.

Like the M18 version, these packs offer higher performance, service life, and faster charging than their standard counterparts. The 8.0Ah battery gets back to a full charge in just 45 minutes. The 12.0Ah pack takes 65 minutes. Those are lightning-fast charge times compared to what we’re used to seeing.

The MX Fuel packs are also Milwaukee One-Key enabled.

Milwaukee MX Fuel Forge Battery Price

  • MX Fuel RedLithium Forge XC6.0 Battery: $849
  • MX Fuel RedLithium Forge HD12.0 Battery: $1149

Milwaukee Forge-Optimized Super Chargers

Charge Adapt Battery Charging Technology

Super Charger

The Milwaukee M18 Dual-Bay Simultaneous SuperCharger charges more than two times faster versus the prior generation Super Charger. This is the fastest charger Milwaukee has ever made. They actually had to add controls to dial back the wattage to avoid tripping breakers.

It includes a technology called Charge Adapt. Charge Adapt asymmetrically charges two batteries at one time. In other words, both batteries always receive some level of charge, however Milwaukee varies the levels per battery in order to quick charge the most-optimized pack. It’s a smarter system than a charger simply “choosing” one battery to charge first over another and then switching to the next.

Simultaneously charging always occurs in this system if two batteries are installed, and that shares the available power between them. In order to get to an 80% charge in 15 minutes, you need to install only one Forge 6.0Ah battery pack on the charger. Keep that in mind when you really need to maximize charge time on a single pack.

Cool Cycle

When your tools perform demanding applications back to back, batteries will inherently heat up. To speed up charging, Milwaukee developed Cool-Cycle, which employs high-speed air cooling on both their MX Fuel and M18 Forge batteries as well as the newest Super Chargers. It’s not just a colling fan on the charger—the batteries and charger are active participants.

When you put a Forge battery on the charger, it actively starts to cool down the pack. This gives you significantly faster charge times since the charger isn’t waiting for the pack to cool to a safe temperature before starting. On top of that, the battery comes off cooler at the end of charging. When you’re cycling batteries on tools with a high power demand, it’s a big advantage.

Milwaukee Forge-Optimized Charger Price

  • M18 Dual-Port Simultaneous Super Charger: $249
  • MX Fuel Super Charger: $549

Updated January 29, 2024

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