Today we’d like to discuss a topic that’s very familiar to us. ASTW has worked in the field of patent translation for years. Patents are the dark side of the moon of everyday life. How many of us have, at least once in our lives, used or needed a hex key (or “Brugola screw”)? That was a rhetorical question. But how many know the history and the person behind this “precision instrument for a possibly future turning point in mechanics”? (from the film Three Men and a Leg).


OEB (Officine Egidio Brugola) was founded in 1926 in Lissone (Monza e Brianza), thanks to the technical experience of its founder Egidio Brugola, as a factory of washers and special rings for engines and the like. Towards the end of the 1920s, Egidio Brugola had the intuition to expand and diversify production to the screws sector, almost immediately beginning to manufacture hexagon socket screws, a type of screw that had already existed in the United States at the beginning of the century, but was little used in Italy.

Brugola thus began to produce this particular screw, believing in its product so much as to encourage the drafting of a specific and official standardisation regulation for the hexagon socket screw, which led him to file his patent in 1945. His goal was to create a screw that would allow to fix mechanical parts in a simple way while applying less tightening force, especially when there was little space available. In 1927, its series production began and from the outset there was a progressive identification of the product with the name of the manufacturer; so much so that in Italy it is universally known as a “Brugola screw”.

Egidio Brugola was obsessed with mechanics and especially welcomed technological challenges, accumulating a large number of records. The first IBM typewriters were assembled with special types of screws produced by the OEB.


Today Brugola OEB Industriale S.p.A. continues as a family-run business. It is a world leader in “critical” screws, with a Zero Defect guarantee, over 150 million euros in turnover and 550 employees. It also collaborates with the best car manufacturers, including Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and BMW.

Are you wondering if this article is in any way sponsored or seeks to specifically please someone? I can assure you it isn’t. In a constantly evolving world where we tend to think that innovations are now a foreign monopoly all too often, I think remembering Italy’s patent history is fundamental. Although the hex key may seem to be such a small thing, it was a revolutionary innovation for Italian industry, and not only in terms of mechanics.

Stefano Gaffuri

English translation and adaptation by Sarah Schneider