Iscar Celebrates 60 Years of Innovation

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After thriving on innovation for the past six decades, officials at ISCAR look forward to more breakthroughs during their next 60 years.

March 7, 2013

For its 60th anniversary, one of the world’s leaders in metal cutting tools is celebrating the only way it knows how: by continuing to introduce breakthrough products to help customers adapt to industry requirements.

ISCAR’s latest release of tool families, falling under the HIGHQLINE campaign, employs leading-edge engineering solutions to increase profitability. Focusing on increased productivity with smart insert locking mechanisms, these new tools enable manufacturers to improve labor efficiency in metalworking, with upgrades in both tool and insert geometries.

Among the new tooling innovations are brand names such as:

  • DOVE IQ TURN – A dovetail pocket combined with lever clamping mechanism provides rigid insert clamping for heavy turning.
  • DOVE IQ GRIP – This new line of tools features a unique frontal locking mechanism designed for deep heavy grooving applications and unobstructed chip flow.
  • DO-GRIP IQ – Clamped with a higher force for grooving and parting, these double-ended inserts achieve better accuracy and longer insert life.
  • PENTA IQ GRIP – This design of small pentagonal inserts with five cutting edges is for deeper, more accurate grooving and parting applications.
  • HELI IQ MILL 390 – Featuring three cutting edges and advanced cutting geometries, these milling inserts function with reduced cutting forces and lower power consumption.

Designed for today’s economy, with tight resources, lean operations, and challenging demands, the HIGHQLINE campaign continues ISCAR’s commitment to its customers. As manufacturers struggle to meet increasing demands, the campaign encourages technical education in automation and advanced technologies in all sectors of the metalworking industry by promoting its motto, Machining Intelligently, a phrase that could describe what ISCAR has done since its beginning.

A History of Innovation

Operating from his kitchen porch in Galilee, an agricultural region in Israel, Stef Wertheimer began ISCAR as a brazed tool shop. His business gave him an opportunity not only to make a living, but also to bring the manufacturing industry to his homeland, located in an oil-heavy part of the world.

“There are many who believe that the only thing in the Middle East is oil,” Wertheimer told Forbes magazine in 2012. “And if you are not in on oil, then there is nothing for you. If you want to get people out of the frustration created by the culture of oil, the only way out is industry.”

Wertheimer’s passion shined. Acting according to his own work ethic, the founder initially doubled as deliveryman, riding a bicycle to hand products to customers personally.

After 60 years, Wertheimer’s ambitious national plans have exploded through Israel’s border, reaching all corners of the world. Today, Wertheimer’s one-man shop has grown into a multi-national business, with a network of subsidiaries in more than 60 countries, employing more than 12,000 people. Headquartered in northern Israel at the Tefen Industrial Park, the privately owned ISCAR Metalworking Companies (IMC) generate more than $1 billion in exports per year. So much for the bike.

Privately-funded Tefen Industrial Park, one of three parks in Galilee with another in Israel’s Negev desert, manifests Wertheimer’s commitment to industry. In addition to housing 60 companies, Tefen includes museums, sculpture gardens, and occasional concerts, and is often credited with boosting Israel’s industrial exports and business.

Warren Buffet Era
In 2004, Stef Wertheimer’s son Eitan took over running daily operations. Two years later, Warren Buffet’s Omaha, NE-based Berkshire Hathaway paid $4 billion in cash for 80% of ISCAR, with Eitan staying on as chairman, and Stef named as honorary chairman. According to a statement, Buffet outlined what was so intriguing about the family company, his first purchase outside the United States.

“As a truly international business, [ISCAR] is a top performer in its industry, with exposure to European, Asian, and Latin American markets, as well as significant opportunities for growth as it continues to penetrate the North American market,” he said.

Under Buffet’s direction, ISCAR has opened a $50 million plant in Dalian, China, based on the Tefen plant. The company also acquired Tungaloy, a Japanese cutting-tool manufacturer, marking the first time an Israeli firm has taken over a large Japanese company. Although Tungaloy struggled after the massive tsunami in Japan, ISCAR still enjoyed a 41% increase in sales in 2011, according to Berkshire Hathaway. In March 2012, officials at ISCAR agreed to invest $80 million in Woulfe Mining Corp.’s Sandong project in South Korea, home to what was once the world’s largest tungsten producer. For Buffet, it has been a knockout purchase.

“[ISCAR’s] sales growth and overall performance are unique in its industry,” he wrote to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders last year. “ISCAR’s manager’s – Eitan Wertheimer, Jacob Harpaz, and Danny Goldman – are brilliant strategist and operators.”

Beyond 60

The joy from the company’s anniversary does not come from reaching the milestone, but from looking past it.

“Our aim is to provide our customers with the latest technology to bring down costs,” Jacob Harpaz, president and CEO, IMC Group, said in 2008. “The new products create magic for our customers by improving technology and lowering production costs.”

Eitan Wertheimer has described ISCAR as a company that does not relish a single moment, but continuously works to improve its products, so customers can produce faster, with fewer mistakes and rejects.

The company has thrived on that philosophy since its inception on a kitchen porch six decades ago, and its contributions to modern, efficient metalworking, will keep them just as innovative for the next 60 years.

ISCAR Metals Inc.
Arlington, TX