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HomeTips & GuidesTooling Design: Process, Benefits, and Importance

Tooling Design: Process, Benefits, and Importance

Each tool must go through tooling design before manufacturing to meet the required standards. 

Complex devices require even more design work than less sophisticated ones because of the amount of detail.

Therefore, tooling design is critical before manufacturing, as we’ll analyze the process to explain its importance and benefits. Read on to learn more!

Table of Contents

What Is Tooling Design?

Tools are not the final consumer products. They are the components manufacturers use to build products from start to finish. 

Therefore, tooling design refers to the process of creating items to use to make the final product.

The process might encompass several procedures, such as CAD/CAM design, die casting, CNC machining, heat treating, mold making, etc.

And it covers things like selecting the raw materials and machining or molding them to precise shapes/sizes for manufacturing or assembly.

For instance, die tooling involves designing and prototyping parts for shaping or cutting wood, plastic, and metal materials.

 On the other hand, mold tooling refers to designing and prototyping negative cavity spaces for injecting molten plastic to form high-quality parts.

Basic Tool Features

Let’s focus on the mold tooling process when looking at these features. Ensure you include these features when designing an injection mold to make components like plastic car parts.

  • Core half: The part that opens when you remove the molded component inside and closes against the cavity half (against the cavity half).
  • Cavity half: Refers to the stationary part of the tool that links to the molding machine’s side.
A mold for making plastic bottles

A mold for making plastic bottles

  • Cooling lines: Refers to coolant channels running through the tool to regulate the plastic molded component’s cooling process.
  • Runner: The path for flowing the molten plastic or resin material from the molding machine into the negative cavity.
  • Side actions: Refers to the moving pieces in the negative cavity that allow undercuts.
  • Ejector system: Core half pins for pushing cooled injection-molded parts out after molding.

Tooling Design Process

This process generally involves these three steps.

Step 1: Understand the Tooling Design Applications and Requirements

Learn and analyze the geometrics of the product, including doing a physical and functional analysis, to determine the most suitable manufacturing process for building the tool.

Step 2: Check the Standards

Pick the correct tooling materials for the design, then ensure the design tool meets the performance and safety standards.

Step 3: Prototyping

Build the tooling prototype for testing before going into mass production.

An engineer examines a prototype before approving it for mass production

An engineer examines a prototype before approving it for mass production

Tooling Design Fundamentals

Tooling design has four fundamentals.

Precision and Tolerance

Tolerance and precision go hand-in-hand because the tighter the tolerance, the more precise the tool will turn out.

And you need to consider the type of material used because it determines the tool’s accuracy. For instance, metal tools give a high level of accuracy because the material does not bend.

Durability and Production Volume

Durability is crucial for the tooling design process because the parts must withstand extended periods of use and thousands of cycles without failure.

Sophisticated designs are more likely to fail under pressure, which affects their durability. Also, materials exhibit different strength levels, meaning the material type affects durability.

As for the production volume, the higher it is, the more robust and resilient the tools should be to withstand high wear and tear.

Mass production of vehicles in a car factory

Mass production of vehicles in a car factory

Therefore, if you’re designing a tool for high-volume contract manufacturing, it is more cost-effective to make a high-quality tool that will last longer.

But you can use the prototype tool for low production volumes and improve it as production ramps up.

Cycle Times

A complete cycle operation time includes setup and teardown. Designers should consider these cycle times to optimize production after tooling design.

For instance, the tooling process can minimize setup times while enhancing quality control, repeatability, and accuracy.

An optimized tooling design also improves production efficiency, enabling you to build high-quality parts using few resources.

But ensure you consider factors like durability, tool strength, and ergonomics when checking these design fundamentals.

Tool Changing Time

The tool changing time or speed and accuracy impacts the quality of the final product. Factors like tool storage space and the ease of changing or servicing tools also affect the product quality.

Importance of Tooling Design Before Manufacturing

This process offers the following benefits in product manufacturing.

  • Assists manufacturers in designing and building components faster with more efficient material use and high precision.
  • Eliminates the need for costly tool materials, which cuts manufacturing costs.
Computer-aided design of a plastic injection mold

Computer-aided design of a plastic injection mold

  • Increases productivity and reduces wastage by ensuring you use the correct tool for the job.
  • Optimizes product design, which cuts on downtime.
  • Reduces the overall manufacturing costs because you don’t have to use custom-made parts.

Importance of Material Selection in Your Tooling Design

As stated earlier, the type of material used determines the quality of the tool and that of the final product.

For instance, when picking a steel grade for making injection molding tools, you can determine the correct steel harness by checking the wear and toughness requirements.

A plastic injection metal mold manufactured using high-precision CNC machining with a steel core

A plastic injection metal mold manufactured using high-precision CNC machining with a steel core

The goal is to design and manufacture these tools to have long lifespans while undergoing minimal maintenance. So, some factors to consider include:

  • Part complexity
  • Production run size
  • Required finish quality
  • Material for molding

Advantages of Using the Correct Tooling Design

  • Saves resources (time and money) by cutting production costs and eliminating errors, making components highly accurate.
  • Improves the reliability and efficiency of the final products, which sharply contrasts hand-crafted designs.
  • Reduces installation time and simplifies repairs/adjustments during manufacturing.
  • Ensures tools and the final products meet the highest quality, safety, and performance standards.

Considerations When Selecting a Tool Design Provider

If you are a product manufacturer looking for tools to enable your manufacturing process, ask yourself these questions when selecting a tool designer.

  • Does the designer apply DFM principles?
  • How frequently does the designer review tool designs and consult with you or other customers to know concerns and expectations?
  • Does the designer understand die tooling and molding processes/requirements?
Magnesium die casting

Magnesium die casting

If the answers to these questions are all yes, you can proceed. Otherwise, the manufacturing process might be unsmooth, and you can have quality issues.

Wrap Up

Although tooling design adds more time and cost to the production process, its advantages and importance outweigh the cons.

But it would be best if you got the process done correctly using the three steps explained earlier. Also, follow the design fundamentals listed above.

That’s it for this article. You can learn more about automotive injection molding in this article, and comment below to share your thoughts and sentiments because we appreciate your feedback.

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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