Microtool Maker Markets Tiny Tools to Big Industry

October 20, 2008

3 Min Read
Microtool Maker Markets Tiny Tools to Big Industry

Originally Published MPMN October 2008


Microtool Maker Markets Tiny Tools to Big Industry

Bob Michaels

Midwest Industrial Tool Grinding supplies microtooling to medical device manufacturers.

At its founding in 1993, Midwest Industrial Tool Grinding Inc. (MITGI; Stewart, MN) was a one- or two-person custom manufacturer and regrinder of cutting tools. Today—13 years and a major capital expansion later—the company has become a round-the-clock operation that supplies microtooling, developing products, and customer specialty tools to medical device manufacturers in Minnesota, the United States, and beyond.

MITGI began primarily as an industrial tool grinding company, regrinding drill bits and end mills, which are similar to router bits. The company focused on the precision metals industry, supplying such customers as 3M, Hutchinson Technology, and other metal shops. Meanwhile, the firm branched into the medical device manufacturing area.

“We began making prototype tooling for customers through word of mouth,” remarks Jeff Streich, MITGI’s customer service representative. “Our quality impressed people, and we continued to get more work in this field and more referrals through word of mouth. In 2003, we began a concentrated effort to move more of our work into this area, as we were having success and doing well in the medical field. This sector has continued to grow and is doing very well for us.”

As part of its drive to expand into the medical device manufacturing industry, the company will exhibit at MD&M Minneapolis for the first time, highlighting its entire line of customer specialty products, including medical tooling. Specializing in microtooling, the company offers all types of micro end mills and micro drills, including extended-reach and special-geometry models. It manufactures end mills as small as 0.003 in. in diameter.

Providing tooling for arthroscopic surgery instruments, for modifying implants such as pacemakers, and for other medical devices, MITGI manufactures tools with tight tolerances and repeatability. Tool consistency, in turn, translates into reduced setup times for operators manufacturing parts. By visiting customer facilities and understanding customers’ manufacturing goals, the company helps design tools that can meet their needs. It maintains complete documentation, including in-house prints, for all the tools it ships, enabling the company to correct problems that may arise and address customer concerns.

The company’s pursuit of precision manufacturing has paid off. In 2005, founder Jim Schaufler more than doubled the size of his facility, adding three CNC robotic tooling machines to the two that were already in operation. He also widened his customer base and began to increase the firm’s workforce. For his efforts, Schaufler was honored with the Southwest/Central Minnesota Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2006.

“We’ve really gotten into the medical field,” notes Schaufler. “I don’t think there is anyone in the state doing what I am doing.”


Booth #856

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