The Latest Trends in the Tool and Die Industry
The tool and die industry most commonly operates behind the scenes, but developments in tool and die equipment are driving manufacturing advancements. Not only do tougher and more accurate tool and die options allow for more affordable manufacturing, they also change the limitations of what can be manufactured with the most popular molding and machining processes. Understanding the trends shaping the development of new tool and die technology will help you know where to invest and what to focus on as a subcontractor.
Decreased Tool and Die Costs from 3D Printing
While 3D printing is being used for fabricating everything from small home projects to entire buildings, it is particularly growing in popularity for tool and die production. Metal sinterizing and high density polymer printers can form tool and die components to exact specifications with minimal additional finishing work. 3D printed tool and die parts are easily replicated and replaced without any difficulty in getting the exact details right. Modifications to create small variations among a set of tool and die parts is also much easier with 3D printing. Investing in printers that work with high strength materials will help you expand into the tool and die industry.
Growing Tool and Die Demand from Aerospace and Automotive
2016 and 2017 were both years of marked growth for the global tool and die market. Aerospace manufacturing is one of the fastest growing sections of the global industry, and specialized tool and die producers can sell their products to dozens of different countries. Increasing complexity in automotive manufacturing processes, especially the addition of automation, is also causing a boom in new demand for tool and die parts. Since both industries are expected to continue to grow in 2018 and beyond, the tool and die sector should also expect sustained demand and growth over the next few years.
Multiaxis Machining for Faster Tool and Die Production
Sometimes a single innovation or manufacturing method has a serious impact on the entire industry and changes trends in client demand for years to come. The availability of multiaxis machining services has been the source of major tool and die trends since at least 2016. For decades, tooling was primarily produced by machining along just one or two axes. Secondary finishing was necessary to create the exact tolerances and details along the axes that were not directly machined.
With options for working on up to nine axes at once now, machining for tool and die production has taken a huge leap ahead. Multiaxis machining reduces the finishing work on tooling parts, dies, and molds so clients can go from the design stage to manufacturing their products as quickly as possible.
Lack of Experienced Tool and Die Workers
Fluctuations in the labor force in many countries around the world are having an impact on the tool and die industry. While all manufacturing steps require skilled labor, tool and die producers are particularly in need of experienced and well-trained engineers and designers. Yet many students studying technical skills are choosing other positions, resulting in a global trend of labor scarcity in many manufacturing hubs. Tool and die producers that want to continue to grow may need to offer their own training and education benefits to attract motivated workers and make them a good fit for tool and die positions.
Embracing Automation in Tool and Die Creation
Automation continues to feature as one of the biggest trends of manufacturing in general, and even tool and die producers are feeling its effects. Not only do tool and die products used in automated systems require different details, the systems are also making their way into the tool and die creation process itself. Making complex molds and dies from digital designs and plans is a major challenge for even experienced human workers, so automating as much of the process as possible frees up valuable human labor.
Demand for skilled tool and die creation services are steadily growing in most parts of the world. Join in on this global industry by checking out the European Subcontracting Network. List your company if you offer tool and die design and manufacturing services, or check out who’s already offering their expertise in your country or region.