Tool and Die Manufacturing Guide – Part 1: Introduction & Process

This blog is Part One of a two-part series highlighting our guide to the tool and die manufacturing process, with a focus on defining this type of manufacturing and the process involved.

Durable goods manufacturing involves tools, dies and molds. The tool and die manufacturing process uses tools to cut out and form metal, along with other materials, while using metal forms called dies to stamp or forge metal – or to form other substances – into specific shapes. This process also includes the making of metal molds used to shape plastics for injection molding, along with molds for ceramics and other materials. In the United States, tool and die companies typically are smaller companies, who manufacture a wide array of parts for large manufacturers that then make numerous types of products, from household appliances to motor vehicles.

What is Tool & Die Manufacturing?

As a type of machining, tool and die manufacturing involves the making of a broad range of implements that support numerous manufacturing processes through the fabrication of vital components. The term “tool” in the phrase refers to those instruments used to produce other parts, while a “die” is an implement that works similarly to a mold by creating custom, complexly shaped objects. The die manufacturing process is essential to numerous industries, and is used for automotive parts, fasteners, tool bits and various other components.

The basic elements of tool and die manufacturing include:

  • Tools that can cut and shape metals and other material with precision.
  • Dies that shape metal through either forging or stamping, including metal molds for plastics, ceramics and composite materials.
  • Jigs that hold the metal while it is bored, drilled or stamped.

How Die Manufacturing Differs from Molding

Often people outside the industry confuse dies with molds. Though both processes involve manipulating the size and shape of raw material as well as using a cavity to shape it, they are not the same. With molds, liquid or viscous raw material is poured into hollowed-out, pre-shaped and three-dimensional templates, then left to solidify to form products or components. Though dies also use a pre-made, three-dimensional templates, they stamp out raw material in solid rather than liquified form.

The Tool & Die Manufacturing Process

Working in conjunction with a press, a die manipulates material into a desired shape and size. The press then forces the material into the cavity of the die, turning the material into an object shaped and sized as per the die. Usually made for specific applications, it can use metals, plastics or composites as base material and, once constructed, can only produce objects identical to the cavity’s shape and size. Because of this, manufacturers must weigh whether the cost of making the die is worth the investment, so tool and die manufacturing tends to be used more for high-volume production.

Typical die sets contain many parts, which normally include:

  • Blank punch
  • Die block
  • Dowel pin
  • Pierce pinch
  • Pierce punch
  • Pilot
  • Punch plate
  • Shank
  • Stripper plate

Contact Arthur Harris & Co.

Our experienced staff and state-of-the-art equipment at Arthur Harris can help you design and produce tooling to manufacture superior products. Using wire EDM and CNC (computer numerical control) machining to help eliminate human error, as well as using CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software, our prototyping capabilities help optimize die manufacturing during the planning stages.

To learn more about our tool and die manufacturing process, please contact Arthur Harris today.