20 years and still a bit crazy
- On April 1st, Mikron Tool looks back on 20 years of success
Embedded within the Mikron Group – known above all as builder of Transfer- and Automation systems – Mikron Tool, has created for itself, since its inception 20 years ago, a solid position in the world of precision cutting tools. Today the cutting tool manufacturer in Ticino (southern Switzerland) is one of the leaders producing small solid carbide tools for difficult to machine materials.
The tradition of producing tools started long before establishing an independent company. Mikron had an own in-house special tool department to service its machine customers with the right special tools which were part of a complete turn-key solution for Transfer Machines. This started an all-round culture of producing quality tools which then became the foundation when starting Mikron Tool in 1998. April 1, 1998 was the moment for Mr. Schnyder to rev up operations with his crew of approx. 30 people. Initially the concentration was on special tools for a limited customer base, but already the second year the first “standard” product for small diameters was launched on the market: the CrazyDrill Steel. This really crazy tool revolutionized the very conservative world of drills with drilling performance which surpassed the up to then reached performances multiple times. The market reaction came immediately: inquires and orders increased day by day.
Constant innovation generates constant growth
In the following years the first CrazyDrill was complimented by new, not less crazy and equally unique products. Focus was always on small diameters, first up to 3mm and in a second phase to 6 mm. However, it became quickly clear that the geometry alone was not sufficient to assure high process security when machining many materials. Hence cooling became very quickly a central development topic, not an easy task with diameters below 3mm. While in the first 10 years the main topic was exclusively drilling, in 2009 followed then the first milling tools. The definitive breakthrough in the targeted direction was achieved based on the new cooling concept for smallest dimensions, which allowed to machine efficiently corrosion and heat resistant materials. Subsequently the team received for its extraordinary achievements and two of its new and patented products a Prodex Award each in 2012 and 2014 which are traditionally awarded at the Basle exhibitions. After 20 years there are now more than 60 individual products which are available from stock in different varieties. Order entry has multiplied same as the personnel. A constant growth which developed organically through the years, except in the crises years 2009 and 2010 of course.
In 1998 there were just 30 people which supplied the “entire world” from Agno (Southern Switzerland). In 2002 a second base in Germany servicing customers in Europe faster and simpler was established, mainly created as a service center for regrinding worn tools. Nowadays at both sites all tools are manufactured, with identical production equipment, QC methods and fabrication processes. Since 2005 there is a wholly owned Sales Organization providing technical support for all North America and for Asian customers there is also a technically competent team in Shanghai which works with a local network of representatives which is being constantly expanded. Additionally, many representatives around the globe also sell the “crazy” products.
A clear vision in sight
Mr. Schnyder, Managing Director since the foundation and today responsible for the entire Tool business within the Mikron Group, emphasizes the deciding factor: “We have a clear vision and know where we want to be in the next years. It gives us energy and determination and we don't risk getting bogged down in multiple areas”. With this, one of our target areas is to become the leader in chip removal processes of stainless steels and nickel alloy based materials. “We are focusing our interest on the corresponding industries such as medical technology, aerospace, automotive, energy sector and watch industries. We already have close cooperation with different partners. The resulting experiences from joint projects foster a continues progress but sometimes also show the limits what is doable. And it is exactly this we are excited about. Explore new territories, find new “crazy” solutions to offer our customers innovative ways to obtain new and true advantages. We live in times where things and situations change ever so quickly. Workpieces become smaller and materials present new challenges. Machining is getting more complex. Exactly here we want to contribute by following new tendencies to offer the customer always the best possible solution. Hence customer specific solutions i.e. special tools still represent approximately 50% of our business volume. So much is simply not always possible to solve with standard products.