Guhring Inc.

Manufacturers in the automotive, aerospace, health care device and other industries that need precision machining rely on Brookfield-based Guhring Inc. for cutting tools used in CNC machines that cut, bore, mill and remove material from cast metals and other materials.

“You won’t find these in Home Deport,” said Craig Zacher, general manager of operations at Guhring. “These are used in General Motors and Ford plants, and at Boeing facilities.”

Gurhring’s cutting tools are made in three types of tolerances: high speed steel, carbide, and polycrystalline diamond. Steel tools are less expensive, but do not last as long as those made from polycrystalline diamond, Zacher said.

The company also offers a range of specialty coatings that it can apply to its tools, which help reduce heat resistance and friction, while extending tool life.

“The difference is the life of the tool or the cost per hole,” he said. “Our strategy is to provide our customers with specialized tools that lower their cost per hole. We might be more expensive on pure price, but lower on a cost per hole basis.”

Guhring’s standard catalog contains about 40,000 different cutting tools – many of which are purchased by tool and die shops and other manufacturing service centers. The company’s customers in the automotive, aerospace and medical device industry almost always require customized tooling, Zacher said.

“That could be as few as one or as many as 1,000 pieces,” he said.

Guhring makes cutting tools as small as one millimeter and as large as three inches in diameter. The company’s tolerances are much tighter. To make cutting tools for the aerospace and medical device industries it needs to be able to hold tolerances to two to three microns. One millimeter has 1,000 microns in it.

Guhring Inc. in Brookfield is the U.S. headquarters of German-based Guehring oHG. The German parent company makes all of the cutting machines used by its subsidiaries around the globe, as well as the carbide used in its cutting tools, Zacher said.

Guhring also has another manufacturing facility in New Hudson, Mich. that feeds Detroit-based automotive customers and a distribution center in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Guhring’s Brookfield campus consists of three buildings with a total 180,000 square feet of space. The company has about 280 employees in Brookfield.

Like many manufacturers, the company had to lay off employees last year during the Great Recession. But Guhring’s employment is now up 20 percent from where it was at this point last year. The company is still not back to its pre-layoff employment levels, Zacher said, but it hopes to add another five to 10 employees before the end of the year.

The company’s sales are now up about 35 percent from where they were at this time last year.

“Our recovery started in November of 2009, and we’ve had a continued steady increase,” Zacher said.

The company has introduced several new products this year, including tools designed for cutting tough-to-machine materials such as stainless steel that are used in the medical device and food machinery industries. Guhring has also developed a series of tools that can cut deep holes needed in automotive crankshafts, Zacher said.

“The design allows us to evacuate the (metal) chips in automotive and other heavy equipment industries,” he said.

Guhring has also developed a series of variable helix end mills, which have significantly reduced vibration during the milling process.

“These are used in difficult to machine steels and cast irons that are used to make turbine blades for jet engines,” Zacher said. “It helps (our customers) to not break these very delicate parts.”

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