Interview with Todd Lien, The Brush King

Todd Lien, Tanis’ lead brush innovator, aka The Brush King, is a driving force in the industrial brush development and design capabilities for the company. Lien’s work includes: Pioneering The CeramiX® Abrasive Nylon Brushes Line, designing The CeramiX® Teardrop Brush and Tanis Wheel Brush Adapters (to name a few) and playing a central role on many custom projects. Lien is also a dynamic part of trade show seasons, offering application advice and solutions.

Lien gives us an overview on custom brush making, his experience cleaning film from a nuclear power plant and the future of brushes.

Q. What is the custom process like?

A. Customers call in looking for a solution. From there we go over their application, their challenges, the project goals and specifics such as dimensions and materials. After we have the information, the team will meet, usually me and the salesperson, although on bigger projects many departments can be involved, and we come up with ideas. We work to meet the customer’s requirements. But we also take into consideration innovative materials that solve old problems in a new, better way. We think about providing the most advantages to the customer based on the features of their application. We always focus on precision, because custom projects allow tailoring, which will improve efficiency and success. Once we are confident in our design, the engineering team develops drawings and prototypes for the customer to test. It is a fun to be a custom brush manufacturer. It’s rewarding to present the customer with an answer to a challenge.

Q: What is one of your most interesting projects?

A: A customer hired us to develop a custom cleaning brush for a nuclear power plant. A light film had built up on the interior of a fuel chamber and the customer wanted it removed without harming the stainless steel surface. They also needed the floor and the walls cleaned with the same brush. The design specifics are confidential, but we took all of these factors into consideration and then selected the type and length of filament, the shape of the brush the handle’s material and the brush’s disposability.

Q: How do you think of new brush designs?

A: I am always learning about the customers’ applications, hearing about them on phone calls or at trade shows or seeing them in the field. I create designs that I believe will help customers, based on what I have seen.

Q: What do you see in the future of brushes and surface conditioning?

A: More advanced grain technology and brush construction.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Contact Todd about a custom project at 262-646-9000 or fill out an RFQ at

Tanis Brush is known for its vast selection of brush products, resourceful custom-design capabilities and exceptional customer service. Our stock and standard brush offerings include abrasive, twisted, rotary brushes, strip brushes, stapled set, power and utility product categories. Custom, quality, and cost-effective brush constructions are engineered and designed for our global customer base including a wide range of OEMs, manufacturing operations, production processes and maintenance operations within of a vast array of industries such as agriculture, printing, food processing, automotive, aerospace, metal fabrication, medical, military and much more.

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