Smartlink Group is a tool and die contract manufacturing company. With our tool and die capabilities, we can bring your project from the beginning to the end. We can produce jigs, fixtures, dies, moulds, machine tools, cutting tools and gauges to aid in the consistent production of your product. Our experienced tool and die team can produce complex and close tolerance dies to make your project successful.
Tool and Die Manufacturing
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.
Forming dies are typically made by tool and die makers and put into production after mounting into a press. The die is a metal block that is used for forming materials like sheet metal and plastic. For the vacuum forming of plastic sheet only a single form is used, typically to form transparent plastic containers (called blister packs) for merchandise. Vacuum forming is considered a simple molding thermoforming process but uses the same principles as die forming. For the forming of sheet metal, such as automobile body parts, two parts may be used: one, called the punch, performs the stretching, bending, and/or blanking operation, while another part that is called the die block securely clamps the workpiece and provides similar stretching, bending, and/or blanking operation. The workpiece may pass through several stages using different tools or operations to obtain the final form. In the case of an automotive component there will usually be a shearing operation after the main forming is done and then additional crimping or rolling operations to ensure that all sharp edges are hidden and to add rigidity to the panel.
The main components for die tool sets are:
- Die block – This is the main part that all the other parts are attached to.
- Punch plate – This part holds and supports the different punches in place.
- Blank punch – This part along with the blank die produces the blanked part.
- Pierce punch – This part along with the pierce die removes parts from the blanked finished part.
- Stripper plate – This is used to hold the material down on the blank/pierce die and strip the material off the punches.
- Pilot – This will help to place the sheet accurately for the next stage of operation.
- Guide, back gauge, or finger stop – These parts are all used to make sure that the material being worked on always goes in the same position, within the die, as the last one.
- Setting (stop) block – This part is used to control the depth that the punch goes into the die.
- Blanking dies – See blanking punch
- Pierce die – See pierce punch.
- Shank – used to hold in the presses. it should be aligned and situated at the center of gravity of the plate.
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.
How Much Should Tooling 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.
Smartlink Group Tool and Die Contract Manufacturing
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, which enable 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.