History of Spiroid-

Illinois Tool Works, Inc (ITW)

Since its founding more than 100 years ago, ITW has become one of the world’s leading diversified manufacturers of specialized industrial equipment, consumables, and related service businesses.

ITW businesses serve local customers and markets around the globe, with a significant presence in developed as well as emerging markets. The company has operations in 57 countries that employ more than 48,000 women and men who adhere to the highest ethical standards. These talented individuals, many of whom have specialized engineering or scientific expertise, contribute to a global leadership in innovation which has produced a broad portfolio of more than 16,000 granted and pending patents.

To learn more about Illinois Tools Works, visit www.itw.com/about-itw/

ITW Heartland

Heartland began in 1976 as a small fabrication shop serving regional manufacturers from its Alexandria, Minnesota location. Very early on, Heartland learned to excel at addressing complex, close-tolerance component machining. This part of its business, now known as Manufactured Products, has evolved into a highly successful machining operation serving customers throughout the country.

In 1982, Heartland was acquired by Illinois Tool Works, Inc. (ITW) on the basis of its centralized geographical location and its potential to serve as a ‘captive’ manufacturing facility for other ITW-owned businesses. Heartland benefited from this association and continues to proudly serve ITW-sister-companies today while growing its non-ITW customer portfolio to almost 70% of its business.

In 2006, ITW transitioned the Chicago-based ITW Spiroid Division to Alexandria and reorganized it as a Heartland-managed operation. As an established and well-respected brand focused on specialized gearing technology, Spiroid’s gear-cutting and thread-grinding processes proved to be a perfect complement to Heartland’s core ‘metal-removal’ expertise.

Today, ITW Heartland is an AS9100 & ISO 9001-certified manufacturing company specializing in precision engineered machines, parts, gears, and electro-mechanical products across a variety of industries. With two locations – Manufactured Products & Spiroid – ITW Heartland remains a proud and thriving member of Alexandria’s robust manufacturing community. To learn more, visit www.itwheartland.com.

ITW heartland website


In the mid-1950’s, a young ITW engineer by the name of Oliver Saari finalized his patent application for a novel gear technology. Relative to the axial position of the pinion as it engages the driven gear, this unique approach essentially ‘split the difference’ between worm and bevel pinion placement. Among other things, the result of this new approach was the following:

  • Higher tooth engagement, more torque and better packaging than worms
  • Vastly improved reduction capacity and easier mounting & assembly compared to bevels

While no technology is superior in all application areas, Mr. Saari’s invention definitively filled a design gap that was present prior to Spiroid. With Spiroid gear technology, Mechanical and Design Engineers now had a new tool in their toolbox.

Oliver Saari was born in Helsinki, Finland on March 22, 1918. In 1927, his family emigrated to the United States where, over a period of 8 years, they moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Rochester, Minnesota, and finally to Minneapolis. Between graduating from high school in 1936 and entering ITW’s workforce in 1945, Oliver Saari served in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), wrote and published several science fiction novels, learned tool and die making, studied mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, and served as a valued employee at General Motors, where he developed a keen interest in gears.

In 1945 Oliver joined ITW and by the early 1950’s, Oliver and ITW were well on their way to synergizing his interests in gears with ITW’s inventive culture, deep resources, and rich manufacturing history. In 1954-55, the Spiroid family of gears were born – and initial patents granted.

Today, Oliver’s Spiroid family of gears are proudly engineered and manufactured within the Spiroid Division at ITW Heartland in Alexandria, Minnesota. Spiroid gearboxes and right angle actuators can currently be found in applications around the world ranging from naval weapons handling systems to nuclear power plants to commercial jet wing flap actuators to missile guidance systems to medical devices to commercial & military Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) and beyond.

Do you have a need for lightweight, small, high-torque right angle gearing technology? Contact the Spiroid gearbox manufacturers immediately, we’d love to help.

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