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American Made - Case Studies


Nov 30, 2020

Tooling Design in the United States


Modern Tooling Design

Tooling design in the United States can be divided into two groups, design and fabrication. Tooling also has recurring and nonrecurring aspects. Tooling design refers to the special tools and equipment unique to a particular system.

General-purpose tooling design is usable for different products normally accounted for in the factory overhead category. Nonrecurring tooling design refers to the initial tool design and in-house fabrication or purchases, as well as subsequent buys for replacement or to increase manufacturing rates. Recurring tooling captures costs for maintenance and repair of tooling unique to manufacturing a particular system as well as wear parts, such as drill bits.

Note that lean principles hold engineering and tooling to be intrinsically related. Designing for lean manufacturing involves careful attention to minimizing all tooling costs. For example, parts that self-locate minimize the need for jigs and other tools that hold parts in the proper position for assembly. Flexible tooling that can be used for more than one part decreases the overall investment in tools.

Advances in Tooling Design

One mechanism to reduce tooling is to design and fabricate parts with devices that properly align them in the next higher assembly or to adjoining parts. For example, small tabs or tongue-and-groove features in adjoining parts can help locate them in the proper position during final joining, whether using fasteners, adhesives, or some other assembly method. This can dramatically reduce the number of dedicated assembly tools required to hold different parts and subassemblies in place as they are joined.

Flexible Tooling

Another technological advance that contributes to lean is flexible tooling. Flexible tools can be used in the fabrication or assembly of multiple parts rather than being dedicated to a particular part or a small family of parts. Ideally, they should also have very low setup times. Tools that can make many different parts can be used to fill in and reduce bottlenecks by allowing for the manufacturing of whatever subassemblies are needed to continue the flow of aircraft through the plant. 

Category: General
Posted by: sheryl

Modern Tooling Design

Tooling design in the United States can be divided into two groups, design and fabrication. Tooling also has recurring and nonrecurring aspects. Tooling design refers to the special tools and equipment unique to a particular system.

General-purpose tooling design is usable for different products normally accounted for in the factory overhead category. Nonrecurring tooling design refers to the initial tool design and in-house fabrication or purchases, as well as subsequent buys for replacement or to increase manufacturing rates. Recurring tooling captures costs for maintenance and repair of tooling unique to manufacturing a particular system as well as wear parts, such as drill bits.

Note that lean principles hold engineering and tooling to be intrinsically related. Designing for lean manufacturing involves careful attention to minimizing all tooling costs. For example, parts that self-locate minimize the need for jigs and other tools that hold parts in the proper position for assembly. Flexible tooling that can be used for more than one part decreases the overall investment in tools.

Advances in Tooling Design

One mechanism to reduce tooling is to design and fabricate parts with devices that properly align them in the next higher assembly or to adjoining parts. For example, small tabs or tongue-and-groove features in adjoining parts can help locate them in the proper position during final joining, whether using fasteners, adhesives, or some other assembly method. This can dramatically reduce the number of dedicated assembly tools required to hold different parts and subassemblies in place as they are joined.

Flexible Tooling

Another technological advance that contributes to lean is flexible tooling. Flexible tools can be used in the fabrication or assembly of multiple parts rather than being dedicated to a particular part or a small family of parts. Ideally, they should also have very low setup times. Tools that can make many different parts can be used to fill in and reduce bottlenecks by allowing for the manufacturing of whatever subassemblies are needed to continue the flow of aircraft through the plant. 

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