December 18, 2018
Manufacturing insights

Worcester manufacturer taps into $1B marijuana market with grinder

Photo | Zachary Comeau
Dylan Polseno, president of United Machining, holds a grinder in the company's Worcester shop.

It's not just cultivation and retail sales of marijuana products making noise in the state's newly regulated cannabis industry, expected to generate in excess of $1 billion by its second fiscal year. A litany of accessories and devices are now becoming more available, and local manufacturers like United Machining are taking notice. The small Worcester machine shop has begun manufacturing a stainless steel cannabis flower grinder. Company president Dylan Polseno spoke to WBJ about the shop's newest product.

Tell me about United Machining. What does the shop typically make?

United Machining was started in 2014. The initial vision for it which is still carried out today was to be a hybrid shop, split between job shop work and our own internal products. Job shop work has been the dominant factor thus far as we work towards achieving more of a balance as we build out our product line. Most of the work we have done is unknown to us in regards to its usage but we have done work for many industries over the years including aerospace, automotive, medical, fiber optics and agriculture. We currently do CNC turning and CNC milling.

When did the idea for a herb grinder come about?

The idea for an herb grinder came about over the summer of 2018 as I came across an article online about the lack of stainless steel grinders. I looked into it and only found two being sold while there were countless aluminum examples. I've learned over the years that people appreciate a high quality machined product, especially made in the USA, so that's when I set out to put my own twist on a grinder.

What drove you to get into the marijuana market?

We are always looking to expand into different product categories and with the acceptance of cannabis only growing over time combined with the existing market, we felt it was a good choice. It's a mature market with a very large potential audience to tap into, which is always ideal when entering an entirely new market.

What goes into the process to make a grinder?

The grinder goes through a process of nine separate machining operations split between a CNC turning center and a CNC milling machine. Some operations are much shorter than others, for example, simply drilling holes for the magnets holding the separate components together versus milling out the grinding teeth, which is by far the longest operation. We chose to go with medical grade 316 stainless steel for its superior rust resistance over easier to machine stainless steels. While this ensures a better end product for the customer, it's far trickier to machine, especially when compared to aluminum, which is what most grinders on the market are machined from. The increased machining time is what leads to its higher cost compared to many competitors.

What makes United's grinder better than others you can buy?

We pride ourselves on quality. You aren't going to find a better machined grinder on the market. Fit and finish is something we take very seriously and are strict when it comes to what we allow versus what we don't before a final product is sold. A simple scratch will result in a rejection before it ever gets in a customer's hands. Also there are benefits to utilizing a stainless steel grinder over the long term. Aluminum grinders tend to wear away over time, resulting in aluminum filings being carried away with the herb. That's not exactly something you want to be lighting on fire and inhaling. Stainless steel does not have this problem, and this grinder is built to be the last one you'll ever need.

United Machining only has one such product so far. Are more variations on the way?

We do hope to release some limited versions over time to include different top designs and possibly some PVD coatings. We'd love to make a titanium version as well, hopefully sometime in 2019 if the demand is present.

Where is the grinder available?

The grinder is available on our website:

It can also be viewed in person at the Vape Lounge on Shrewsbury St. in Worcester.

Is the company looking to produce other products for the cannabis industry?

There are not too many machined components prevalent in the cannabis industry for us to make. We are considering a storage jar currently to compliment the fine machining of our grinder. We are always open to new ideas however!


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