Grand Rapids-based AdvantEdge Cutting Tools (ACT) was founded with a singular goal in mind — to provide better cutting tools and machining processes at lower costs for Michigan manufacturers.
Opening their doors in 2009, ACT was a family-owned business founded by Tony Messing who started in the metalworking business in 1984. Being in and out of various tool and die and molding shops for nearly 40 years, Messing had a pretty good understanding of the tooling industry and what he could do to help.
“From day one, I’ve always been of the belief that I could help tooling shops become more efficient and manage their costs,” says Messing. “Because I know what the costs are, the powder, the coating, the grinding and so forth.”
Thus, even before AdvantEdge, Messing was co-owner of a coating company which developed several innovative coating treatments. One coating process in particular that became known as X10D-R (Extender) and can add anywhere from 35 to 300 percent more life to certain cutting tools. This process, which has evolved over the years, currently utilizes nanoparticles that add extreme wear and lubricity to the cutting edge. It is now being tested at several machining shops throughout Michigan and Wisconsin. The test results from two different aerospace plants shows an increase in tool life by 300 percent on some ceramic-turning inserts in a specialty type of high nickel alloy and twice the life of a tight tolerance gun drill in Titanium Aluminum (Ti-Al) material.
Considering that even small to medium-sized machine shops can spend millions on cutting tools, being able to drive up efficiency while driving down costs can be music to the ears of many manufacturers. Messing says that bigger shops and OEMs normally get their tools from a vendor management program and much of the sales and replacement process is automated. He works with channel partners in these situations.
“When you go through the majority of Michigan machining shops, they want something that’s going to work and work well,” says Messing. In some cases, the end users don’t have time to try the latest and greatest. These treatments are available to almost any current tool to increase the longevity of the tool whereby driving down the cost per cut.
From 2011 to 2014, AdvantEdge helped customers save over $3 million in tooling costs by implementing better cost brands of tools and, in some cases, utilizing new processes with their industry expertise.
“This was a direct result from the tooling brands, types, designs and applications we provided for a base of just 40 customers,” says Messing.
ACT takes the hands-on approach opportunity to consult and work more closely with customers to examine tooling options and potential cost savings.
“There’s always a certain amount of consultation needed so we can find the best solution,” says Messing.
In mid-2019, ACT entered into a five-year partnership/buyout with Sussex Tool & Supply out of Wisconsin. Sussex Tool is also a family-owned business having roots that go back to the early 1980s. This further expands the resources for providing innovative tooling and solutions for customers. Looking ahead to the next chapter, Messing has started a consulting company to continue the work of developing innovative cost-saving solutions.
“After 37 years in the industry, we are proud of the accomplishments we've achieved with our customers through mutual efforts,” says Messing. “We will never lose our passion for our relentless pursuit of increasing our customer's productivity and profits through reduced cutting costs and better machining methods.”
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