Tooling design is an important part of any product’s manufacturing process. The design team, in consultation with the die cut tooling provider, needs to consider manufacturing design principles to ensure production success.Man-made mass-produced objects need tools, like die cuts, to be designed in advance to exact specifications in order to begin the production process. Without carefully designed die cut tools, inferior objects will be constructed that are prone to malfunction, resulting in whole product batches being wasted. The manufacturer will then need to go ‘back to the drawing board’ and begin production all over again.
To avoid costly errors, manufacturers should work in close consultation with tooling designers. Die tool designers can assist the product manufacturer during the pre-production and production process.
Tool designers carefully assess blueprints and iron out potential design flaws before commencing work. A die tool designer will save the manufacturer a lot of time, money and unneccessary headaches by ensuring the product is machine-ready before it hits the presses.
What is die tooling?
A die is a specialised machine used to cut or shape materials – such as metal, plastic, wood or fabric – into pre-determined shapes. Steel blades, mounted on a supporting block and formed into a specific pattern, are pressed into the material, cutting it into the required form.
The tool design process
Every tool requires a certain amount of design consideration before it can be built. The more complex the tool, the more forethought needs to go into the design. A highly complicated tool, for example, may include a lot of detail and will need to be designed using a CAD system. A sufficient amount of time needs to be spent finalising the design in order for faster, more accurate construction.
The most fundamental approach to tool design will be to apply a set of design guidelines which will outline explicit design goals formulated by the design team.
The design team must be multi-disciplinary and should include product engineers, manufacturing managers, cost accountants, and marketing departments. Each representative needs to contribute constructively to the design process to make sure the whole product is designed to exact requirements – including engineering, functionality, budget and product branding considerations.
A common guideline that is particularly useful to follow during the product design stage is the DFM (Design for Manufacturing) principle. A primary strategy in DFM involves minimising the number of parts in a product, making the production as streamlined as possible with a view for end-user functionality.
DFM principles also help product designers to minimise production costs and the amount of time the product takes to get from the presses out to market, while ensuring quality is maintained at all times.
Choosing a tool design provider
When choosing a tool designer to work with your product design team ensure that they tick the following boxes:
- Do they frequently review designs and consult with their customers to establish expectations and understand their die tooling concerns?
- Do they have an extensive knowledge of die tooling processes and requirements?
- Do they consistently apply Design For Manufacturing (DFM) principles?
Consider these factors when choosing a tooling design provider and your design and manufacturing processes will be sure to run smoothly.