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Polishing the View of Outer Space with Engis Polishing Diamonds

The Engis Corporation in Wheeling, Illinois entered the abrasives market in the 1940s with the development of Hypres Diamond Compounds for extremely precise polishing of components for the aerospace and defense industries.

Included is the production of diamond products used by L-3 Integrated Optical Systems - Tinsley, to lap and polish the beryllium mirrors on the James Webb telescope to extreme accuracies.

An Engis technician checking the precise tolerances to accuracies of less than one millionth of an inch for its polishing diamonds used in the James Webb telescope.
Engis technician checks precise tolerances to accuracies of less than one millionth of an inch for its polishing diamonds used in the James Webb telescope.

According to the Northrop Grumman Newsroom, the completion of Webb's mirror polishing is the most challenging and important technological milestone in the manufacture of the telescope. The mirrors were polished at L-3 Integrated Optical Systems - Tinsley to accuracies of less than one millionth of an inch. That accuracy is important for forming the sharpest images when the mirrors cool to -400 ° F (-240°C) in the deep cold of space.

Ken Werner, Engis Executive Vice President
Ken Werner, Engis Executive Vice President

“Our company, founded in 1938, is a US-based manufacturer of super abrasive products and associated machinery for precision measuring equipment and industrial machinery with offices both in the US and UK,” said Ken Werner, Executive Vice President.

“Now our range of products, applications and industries has expanded to include semiconductors, electronics, medical, hydraulics, foundry optics, mold & die, oil & gas and research institutes.,” he pointed out.

Outside of the US, Engis has subsidiaries in Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Canada and the UK to provide sales and technical support and logistics.

“Our ability to maintain local stock proved to be critical in providing our foreign customers with an uninterrupted supply of products, especially during the pandemic. When we design and develop new products, as much as possible, we attempt to design them to be compliant with international standards to be export ready,” explained Mr. Werner.

In addition, the company has a network of technically qualified agents and distributors to cover the major industrial areas of the world. Engis currently exports to over 35 countries. In 2020 the company earned the President’s Excellence in Export award, commonly referred to as the “E” award, and it recently received recognition from the State of Illinois as a small business Exporter of the Year.

Looking to the future of its international sales, Mr. Werner said, “We continually face challenges in countries with high tariffs making it more difficult to compete with local manufacturers which can build similar products at lower costs, including the copying of our designs,” and pointed out, “To overcome these trade barriers, we focus on applications and customers which require products built to higher standards with advanced features and the ability to hold extremely tight tolerances that locally made machines are not capable of producing.”

“While we are not insulated from the current issues affecting global trade including the rising value of the US dollar and the ongoing trade war with China, we remain optimistic and committed to expanding our international sales,” he concluded.

For more information about Engis, visit

Engis Single Pass Bore Finishing (Honing) Machine
Engis Single Pass Bore Finishing (Honing) Machine


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