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  • Writer's pictureBen Nordman

Magna-Lock USA: Workholding Made Simple

Updated: May 7

Milling a Magna-Lock USA logo on an electromagnetic chuck
Magna-Lock USA brand began in 1948.

Boasting a wide variety of products from electromagnetic and vacuum chucks to chuck controllers to permanent and sine chucks, Magna-Lock USA has been at the front of the industry, delivering workholding solutions that make life easier for customers since the 1940s.

In 1948, Ralph V. Hanchett and two of his son-in-laws purchase electromagnetic chuck line. Seeing the opportunity to capitalize on the line, they formed Hanchett Magna-Lock.

SCC Model chuck controller
Flux Master SCC Model Chuck Controller from Mattison Machine Works ownership years.

Working out of Big Rapids, Michigan, the trio took the long line workholding devices and perfected them while running the business for nearly 30 years. Before selling their company in the mid-1970's, the company renamed themselves the Magna-Lock Corporation in 1970.

Presented with the opportunity to sell their company, they did so in 1974 to Hitachi Metals American Ltd., absorbing both the Magna-Lock name and line of workholding to form the Hitachi Magna-Lock Corporation.

With the success of the newly formed company, Hitachi Magna-Lock Corporation looked to rapidly expand their company, purchasing the Power-Grip magnetics line from Sundstrand Magnetic Product Co. in 1975. Joining the lift magnets with the current lines of workholding provided a new stream of business to the company.

Again looking to expand shortly thereafter, the purchase of the Thompson Vacuum Company, adding the vacuum workholding line to the company in 1978.

With the addition of the vacuum product line, Hiatchi Magna-Lock was able to diversify to add another workholding solution.

vacuum chuck
Vacuum chucks that are used in the production of guitars.

The only thing missing from the growing Hitachi Magna-Lock workholding lines were permanent chucks. Seizing the opportunity when presented with it, the company bought the Micro-Mesh and Uni-Mesh Permanent Magnetic Chucks from Brown & Sharpe in 1981, joining with the current lines of workholding.

With product lines changing hands again, Mattison Technologies, Inc. purchased the Hitachi Magna-Lock lines except for the lift magnet and permanent chuck line.

The combination of Mattison and Hitachi Magna-Lock workholding joined together two products that had been working together for a time before it. Mattison grinders had held Magna-Lock chucks on them for years prior and now were together under the same company.

In 1985, the same year of the sale to Mattison, a former Hitachi Magna-Lock employee named Bruce Cocklin formed Magnetic Specialties Corporation by buying the lift magnet and permanent chuck lines.

Power-Grip lift magnet
Magna-Lock owned the Power-Grip lift magnet line twice in it's history.

In the 1990's, Mattison looked to develop the vacuum workholding line of Magna-Lock, creating a line of vacuum chucks specifically made for woodworking.

Following the development of the vacuum line in 1997, Mattison closed it's door and is sold to DeVlieg-Bullard, Inc. While the company was sold, Don Blachford, a former Mattison employee, made the purchase of Magna-Lock to add to the current lines of Centro-Metalcut, Inc.

Five years later, Tri-CAM, Inc. is formed and purchased all lines from Centro-Metalcut, Inc.

Magna-Lock stayed as part of Tri-CAM for another five years, this time being bought by David Nordman as Tri-CAM was sold out to their shareholders. Nordman, the former Vice-President of Tri-CAM, formed Magna-Lock USA, Inc., keeping the name for over 10 years.

Magna-Lock Corporation Shop Showcasing Magna-Lock Products
Magna-Lock Corporation circa 1960s

In 2018, Magna-Lock USA, Inc. changed their name to Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. They are the OEM for spare parts, new equipment and service repairs of Magna-Lock USA, MagnaLift, Power-Grip and Arter Precision Grinding Machines.

With the opportunity to purchase Magnetic Specialties in 2010, Nordman and Magna-Lock USA purchased all product lines from Cocklin, absorbing the product lines and moving them to Illinois.

When Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. name change was implemented, Magna-Lock workholding products became a brand of the company and is identified as Magna-Lock USA. This change was made to avoid confusion with the other brands at Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. The Magna-Lock USA logo was updated also at that time.

For more information about Magna-Lock's current product lines click HERE and if you'd like to find out more about Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. click HERE.

obsidianmfg logo

Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. is a Rockford, Ill. manufacturing company and is the OEM for Magna-Lock USA workholding, MagnaLift & Power-Grip lift magnets, and Arter Precision Grinding Machines as well providing surface grinding services. They are located at 5015 28th Ave. in Rockford, Ill. with a phone number of 815-962-8700. Check out more at

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