Tooling for manufacture: What is it and what does it cost?

Tooling for manufacture: What is it and what does it cost?

Tooling process is an essential part of the manufacturing process, but many companies are uncertain of the best method of production and what they should be paying. In this month’s blog, we address some common questions on tooling, including what it is, why it’s important and what it costs.

What is Tooling Process?

Tooling is the process of designing and engineering the tools that are necessary to manufacture parts or components. There are many different types of tooling, of which the most common are: work holding tools, such as jigs and fixtures; cutting tools for milling and grinding machines; dies for cold forming, sheet metal, forging and extrusion machines; and welding and inspection fixtures.

Why is tooling important?

The quality of a finished part, its properties, the speed and accuracy with which it can be produced and the repeatability of manufacture in high volume production runs, all depend on the precision and characteristics of the tooling. So for the best parts, tooling needs to be designed and engineered to the highest quality.

What should tooling usually cost?

The cost of tooling will change from project to project because it depends on so many variables. However, there is a common misconception that tooling is an expensive and sometimes cost-prohibitive process. In fact, thanks to modern engineering techniques the tooling costs for CNC machining and precision cold forming are relatively low in most cases.

What factors impact on the cost of tooling?

Ensuring high-quality tooling requires a wide range of factors to be considered. For example: the tolerances required in the finished part, as these will affect the configuration of the tooling; mechanical strength and rigidity of the tool, as this is essential to ensure workpiece accuracy, repeatability and quality; cutting tool strength, which has to be sufficient to withstand machining forces, especially in high volume production; and more.

Many companies offering a tooling service carry out this process manually, which can be a time intensive process – therefore leading to a higher price for customers. Some, on the other hand, use advanced engineering software tools.

What does Dawson Shanahan’s tooling process look like?

Our approach to tooling is as effective as it is simple. We work with each customer to explain how our tooling costs are calculated and then find the solution that works best for both parties. This might either be a one-off charge or an agreement to amortise the cost of tooling across the lifetime of the project.

We then carry out the process using our tooling software systems (including DEFORM), which enables our tool design process, analysis and testing to be carried out efficiently on-screen, rather than in the tool-room. We also have a team of experienced engineers on-site that can refine this process still further, using their knowledge and skills to fine tune and perfect tool designs.

Tooling design for machining & cold forming

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