When to Consider Customized Tools

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A question faced by many shops is, what is the real cost of selecting a custom tool and design if time equals money and efficiency is profits? Standardized tooling is embedded in daily production routines. The price of a coated carbide inserts, or off-the-shelf holder can be quickly determined by looking through a few pricing lists. However, acquiring the cost for customized tools takes more time and effort but can be long-term cost savings that are worth more than money.

Custom Tooling Creation

To produce a specific tool that is applicable to the customer’s manufacturing process, the tooling shop must review the application and determine the solution. This means that materials, machine data, and drawing information are compiled with an explanation as to how the part will be produced. This process can take a considerable amount of time which eats away at overall lead times, especially if the application is being cross quoted.

The custom tool and design manufacturer reviews all provided information and asks questions until they understand the reasoning for the tooling. Digesting the information and determining a solution could take several minutes or as long as several days. The tooling company has likely seen this type of application before and can usually provide a fast quote based on experience.

Once the customer has decided to proceed with the tool and place its order, the next step is to provide drawings that can be prepared in a single day or over several weeks, depending on the complexity of the tool. The customer’s stamp of approval must be provided before the custom tool goes into production. The custom tool and design company schedule the new production once this approval is provided and the programming and tool selection is often determining during the drawing stage to save time.

Expectations

Choosing a custom tool should accomplish multiple goals beyond standing tooling since they are generic options. Standard tools are high-performing options, custom tools were meant to excel since they were engineered specifically for the application at hand. Once the custom tool has been implemented, it should provide the following benefits:

  • A reduction in unit cost, which is typically the final goal
  • Accuracy improvement
  • Combining two or more tools to improve efficiency
  • Easier handling
  • Energy cost reduction
  • Improvement in overall efficiency
  • Improve tooling life
  • Increase in process reliability
  • Increase in tool storage capacity
  • Reduction in cycle time
  • Reduction in operator error since coolant ports do not need to be optimized
  • Reduction in tool changes that eats up time

When the development process between the customer and custom tool and design manufacturer is collaborative, custom tools are incredibly effective due to their application. Manufacturing technology advancements have ensured ease of use and reliability, both of which continue to evolve. The technology behind standardized tools continues to advance due to the development of customized tooling.

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