Machine tooling enables manufacturers to obtain the key production components and equipment required to engage in the creation of goods. In metal parts fabrication settings, a variety of man-made devices enable more effective tooling, including jigs, dies, molds, patterns and fixtures.
Tooling makes a profound impact upon an enterprise’s ability to produce manufactured metal components. When performed effectively, tooling contributes to a longer useful product lifecycle, the generation of higher quality wares and the production of more competitively priced parts. By contrast, a manufacturer’s inability to access the correct tools imperils the viability of all these elements and may ultimately result in the failure of the production effort.
The types of tooling available today have arisen in part as a result of the development of high volume production facilities and the design of increasingly specialized tools.
Hand Tooling: During former centuries, tooling occurred entirely by hand. In many industries, artisans used a variety of specialized hand tools (some created by blacksmiths) to produce manufactured goods. The rise of the Industrial Revolution greatly increased the availability of specialized tools. It also facilitated the development of high volume, well-organized production facilities.
Assembly Lines: The use of assembly lines in the automotive industry during the early 1900s increased public interest in Tooling as an important aspect of manufacturing capable of impacting the cost of goods. Assembly lines enabled manufacturers to break down the process of constructing products into specific work stations, each equipped with applicable tools. They ultimately helped lower production costs. By the mid-1900s, numerous industries engaged in the manufacturing of metal components and products routinely relied upon assembly lines. Tooling assumed great importance as a field during the Twentieth Century.
Specialized Tooling: Today manufacturers enjoy access to both manual and computer-assisted tooling resources. The adoption of digital technology has vastly increased the options enjoyed by manufacturers to conduct more efficient tooling. Some companies have even customized tooling assets for their products, enabling the development of tools engineered to help produce specific brands.
The technology and popular applications of tooling demonstrate the versatility of manufacturing in industries which rely upon metal parts.
Many devices contribute to tooling technology today. Some of the most widely utilized include:
Jigs: A jig may perform the dual role of supporting a work piece while also helping to shape its formation.
Cutting Tools: These tools shear away materials from a work piece, and may include drills, mills, grinders, saws and more.
Molds And Dies: Many devices, often customized, help shape and form materials during production.
Fixtures: These devices don’t contribute to the shaping of materials like a jig, but do serve to restrain or hold a work piece or multiple components during an assembly.
Rollers: Cylindrical revolving devices, rollers help press, shape or smooth materials. Some play a role in transporting items along conveyors.
Today tooling performs an important role in the design and implementation of virtually all effective manufacturing program. It often represents an iterative process. For example, prior to creating a product, companies may invest heavily in tooling prototype molds and dies. After creating final prototypes, the firm may conduct further tooling operations to facilitate a limited production run. Additional tooling may occur before implementing mass production. Some firms also perform tooling in order to maintain, repair and replace components in proprietary brands.
Advantages of Tooling
Tooling offers numerous advantages for metal parts manufacturers. Some of the most important relate to efficiency, safety and quality.
Tool management seeks to assist manufacturing enterprises in tracking and monitoring tooling more efficiently and effectively. This information management technology field increased in prominence internationally during the time period between 2000 and 2010. Today, a growing number of educational institutions and training organizations address the subject of tool management through courses and seminars. Its popularity highlights the importance of tooling as a critical aspect of contemporary metal parts manufacturing.
Both the invention of computers with enhanced memory storage capabilities and the creation of sophisticated database software programs contributed to the development of tool management. Today, manufacturers maintain meticulous records concerning available tool components. Many computer numerically controlled software programs draw upon databases to help select the most efficient tool assemblies for developing automated assembly lines and conducting specific machining and finishing operations. Tool management specialists help maintain these records. They also monitor the availability of essential tooling components. In modern high volume production facilities, sophisticated computer databases increasingly enhance tool management operations on the factory floor.
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