Founded in Dusseldorf, Germany, by Richard Walter in 1919, headquarters were relocated to Tubingen, Baden-Wurttemberg, in 1925. Walter AG began its global expansion throughout the 1970s, eventually locating in the United States in 1976 in collaboration with a local tool manufacturer. It then bought the company in 1998 and established regional headquarters for the Americas in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in 2001.
Apart from administrative functions, headquarters also houses a team of engineers working with customers on custom tool designs. The U.S. Technology Center is also based in Waukesha for training purposes with a full range of machine tools for demos. While manufacturing takes place at numerous sites around the world, there is a production center in Cleveland, Ohio. Tool orders within the Americas are sent out from a central warehouse in Kentucky, many of them drop shipments, with a few stocking distributors located around the country. Walter has a dedicated sales force assigned to particular regions, and there is virtually no lead time on the shipment of stock items.
According to Kurt Ludeking, director of marketing for the West Region, Walter embraces “Engineering Kompetenz,” emphasizing dedication to the precision and high quality found at its core and extending this to look beyond cutting tools to focus its problem-solving expertise on customers’ machining processes. “We have structured global meetings between our engineers and global R&D staff, and they are constantly in contact discussing ongoing projects and market opportunities in all the major world markets,” he says. “It’s an incredible resource for Walter to have this vast network of experts working together to help our customers and also guide our strategic planning.”
And planning is central to a company with some 45,000 standard products in both indexable and solid carbide tooling, grounded by hundreds of patents on the innovative designs it has brought to the market over the years. It is known for the Titex and Prototyp brands, as well the carbide technology found in the Tiger-Tec® Silver and Tiger-Tec® Gold indexable insert product lines.
“Tiger-Tec® Gold provides even further improvements in both speed and wear resistance, while simultaneously improving reliability through significantly improved toughness required in milling applications,” Ludeking explains. “The milling and drilling insert already available are now being joined with Tiger-Tec® Gold technology for turning applications, extending the productivity and reliability benefits of this technology further into the machining industry.”
Walter gathers input from customers and partners in manufacturing to provide ideas for improvements and modifications to its existing tooling line, while also considering new products reflecting advances in machine tools, related processes, and materials research. While this is a function of close relationships between customers and its sales force, Walter also monitors the global machining industry for what’s coming over the horizon that will impact customers.
As proof of this commitment to customer interaction and communication, Walter has established the Global Technical Center in Tubingen as a hub linking all its other centers located around the world. Established about four years ago, it unites all of the company’s Tech Centers and makes its findings available online to a wide variety of industry partners, with its customers standing first and foremost.
Walter generally holds two new product launches every year and has also moved beyond tooling to digital solutions supporting both its customers and the manufacturing industry at large. “Walter is known for being responsive and dependable in terms of tooling,” Ludeking says. “Now we’re working on advanced technologies such as in-process tool condition reporting. We are constantly working to meet the needs of this dynamic industry.”