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Cutting into the medical industry

Sphinx Tools makes drills that are smaller than human hairs. Acquired by Sandvik for its precision tool expertise, the Swiss company is also strengthening the Group’s position in the medical sector.

Sphinx Tools was established in Switzerland in 1994 as the result of a management buy-out from Sphinxwerke Müller AG, that traces its origins back to 1876. “There is a long tradition in Switzerland for making precise, reliable, small and exact components,” says José Hernandez, Head of Sales, Sphinx Tools. “And Switzerland still has an important fine mechanics industry where precision components are made for many industries.”

Today, Sphinx Tools has three production sites in Switzerland, with 150 employees. They design, manufacture and sell micro tools around the world, mainly for the automotive, aerospace and medical industries. They manufacture niche products and are among the best-known manufacturers of micro cutting tools in the world.

There is a long tradition in Switzerland for making precise, small and exact components

The company’s tools can be used to make holes in different metals and synthetic materials. They are experts when it comes to making tools with high demands, tight tolerances, and from challenging materials. They make tools that are so small, they would break if you touched them with your finger, but which can still be used to make perfect holes in stainless steel.

Sandvik acquired Sphinx Tools in 2022. The main purpose of the acquisition was to strengthen its position in round and micro tools, a strategic area for the Group. But having worked with the medical sector for around 35 years, Sphinx Tools is also helping Sandvik develop in an area full of healthy growth opportunity.

Precision is everything

Sphinx Tools develops, manufactures and markets tools for the manufacturing industry. Its relationship with the medical sector is however much more about strategic partnership. Sphinx Tools is a contract manufacturer of medical instruments. The customers, who are responsible for the design and marketing of the tools, partner with Sphinx Tools which has the expertise to manufacture them.

Precision is vital, and much specific know-how is required for making the medical tools that go inside the human body. Sphinx Tools ensures that the manufacturing process meets the customer’s exact specification. Whatever material, tolerance, hardening, electro polishing, laser marking and even packaging the customer specifies, the company meets it exactly. The final packaging for medical tools is important, as some products need sterile packaging. Sphinx does this in the company’s own certified clean room.

All custom made

Requirements and norms for tools in the medical industry are very high and the regulations are demanding. Sphinx Tools therefore ensures that manufacturing processes are inspected, validated and certified. Traceability and repeatability of the tools is guaranteed by meeting norms ISO 9001:2015 and EN ISO 13485:2016 

The company currently makes thousands of medical tools a year, all of which are custom-made. They are mostly used in orthopedic and trauma surgery. Despite the challenges of the market, the competences that Sphinx Tools has means that it is well placed to take advantage of the growth opportunities in the medical sector