Tooling is critical in manufacturing. Tooling failure can disrupt operations and even lead to inefficient or defective products.

To make the most out of manufacturing tooling you need to work with a production partner that understands your requirements and can offer expert advice.

Highcross helps companies design and manufacture tools for use in manufacturing processes. Working to ISO 9001:2015 standards, the team has developed a reputation in the automotive and exhaust tool manufacturing but can also across a broad range of industries.

In this blog post, we cover everything you need to know about tooling for manufacturing including what value you can derive from it and how tooling costs are calculated.

What is manufacturing tooling?

Tooling is an essential part of the manufacturing process. It has quite a loose definition but is often interpreted as a process for getting, making or using the right equipment for manufacturing.

You will often hear about factories needing to invest in ‘new tooling’ in order to produce a new design or perhaps the design of new unique tooling that’s necessary to produce the bodywork or exhaust of a new sports car.

Many kinds of tool are used in manufacturing tooling, including holding tools (such as jigs), cutting tools (primarily used for things like CNC machining), and dies (for cold forming, sheet metal, forging and extrusion machines).

When manufacturing tooling gets a little more bespoke, however, there is a need to move towards more specialist tooling. Specialist tools like exhaust tooling often can’t be bought off the shelf and need to be optimised to meet the needs of a design. For these purposes, manufacturing tooling will usually need to be made bespoke.

Why is tooling important?

Tooling can impact on the quality of the finished part and it can have a significant effect on the manufacturing process.

Finished products

If tooling isn’t right, then the final product can be ineffective. Final parts and other components usually need to be within a certain tolerance. They may also have faults that mean they break or degrade quickly.

If tooling can’t achieve the required tolerances consistently or induces faults in a finished product, it can have a dramatic knock-on effect on manufacturing cycles. In the worst cases, tooling failure can lead to production bottlenecks, downtime and even product recall.

At Highcross Designs, we often receive enquiries from customers that have had issues with parts, components and other finished products and we have been able to advise them on tooling optimisations that can lead to a better result.

Manufacturing process

Good tooling can also boost manufacturing processes. Every mass-produced part is created using tooling, so the quality, cost and lead time of tooling can have a huge impact on the smooth functioning of a production chain.

Well-designed and well-made tooling can make manufacturing processes faster and more economical. Strong tooling also improves consistency and repeatability and reduces downtime associated with repairs and maintenance.

Highcross Designs designers and engineers work closely with customers to make sure they understand how tooling fits in the broader production context and any special requirements.

CNC Machine

How much does tooling cost?

Technological improvements have made tooling cheaper. Computer-assisted design (CAD) software and computer numerical controlled (CNC) machines make the process of designing and creating tools faster and cheaper.

But the price of tooling is influenced by a wide range of other factors including:

  • Complexity of design
  • Required tolerances
  • Required mechanical strength and rigidity

As well as the time required to design or machine the relevant parts, manufacturers are also paying for the experience of the operators. Small improvements or optimisations identified and implemented at the design stage can save clients an enormous amount of time, energy and expense further down the project.

Want to discuss a design or project? Speak to one of our precision engineers today. Call: 0161 337 0370.

Car manufacturing