We don’t post a ton of obituaries on PTR, but when a man like Arthur R. Segal passes away we take notice. Segal, age 101, was known for starting the North American Products Corporation, where he essentially designed, patented, and manufactured the first solid tungsten-carbide-tipped blades. To put it mildly, this was an invention that changed the world of manufacturing. Until the invention of tungsten-carbide, solid steel blades were used, which had rapid failure rates and reduced accuracy. The first carbide tipped saw blades were designed for more accurately and efficiently cutting wood, plastics and laminates and Segal held several patents on the first carbide tipped tool designs which are now nearly ubiquitous in commercial and residential use. In our review of the best 12-inch thin kerf miter saw blades, all used some form of carbide tipped technology that is a direct descendant of his original invention.
Inventor of Carbide Tipped Saw Blades
Along with being the inventor of carbide tipped saw blades and his association and management of NAPC, Segal wrote papers for several industrial and scientific publications as well as numerous universities where he presented his ideas on the design, machining and manufacturing of tungsten-carbide blades. One other thing we noted in his patent portfolio was a patent to reduce saw blade noise through the use of “gullets” or spaces below each of the saw blade tips. Modern saw blades are still using versions of his designs today.
He was born June 30, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri and, in 1935, married his wife and future business partner Mildred “Millie” Hebrank. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on August 25, 2010 (she passed away in 2011). Arthur has two sons (one of whom is named Steven, for those fans of 80’s action films) who continued to run North American Products Corporation after his retirement. NAPC became the largest manufacturer and servicer of industrial carbide tipped tooling for the woodworking and metalworking industries in the United States, hitting $48 in revenues and employing well over 300 people. NAPC is now doing business as NapGladu LLC., having been sold in 2005.
Arthur actually held a number of interesting patents regarding machining and, in particular, saw blade cutting technology. You can see a list of them here.