What is Tooling in CNC Machining and Manufacturing?

When designing your projects with a CNC machine, thinking about the small details behind the scenes can be overlooked. The CNC tools and fixtures are vital for turning raw material into a precise part. In this blog, we will explore what tooling is and how it relates to CNC machining, why it is important, and the costs of tooling for your CNC project.

What is Tooling in Manufacturing and how does it impact CNC Machining?

Machine tooling is the process of designing, cutting and shaping materials that will be used to produce new machined parts. Acting as the first step before CNC machining can take place, it is part of the preparation process. In the context of CNC machining, tooling more specifically relates to work-holding fixtures, tool holders, or tool inserts. Let’s take a closer look at the tooling categories:

  • Work-holding fixtures: These components hold the piece steady during the cutting process and can be swapped out for custom-manufactured fixtures for complex projects.
  • Tool holders: These holders connect the cutting machines to the cutting tools.
  • Cutting tools: Including drill bits, saw blades, and broaches that will be determined by your material type.
  • Tool inserts: Tool inserts are each of the replaceable parts and are intended for a specific number of uses before they need to be swapped.

CNC tools are used throughout the prototyping phase and the full production of a product for cutting, carving, machining and milling. Compatible with a range of materials such as wood, MDF, plastics, foam, aluminum and a range of metals, your tool selection is determined by the project scope.

What is the importance of tooling in manufacturing?

As the backbone of a manufacturing process, tooling allows you to determine what project types a CNC machine shop can take on and the full range of skill sets. When done correctly, tooling can save you time and money on your project as it speeds up the manufacturing process. While the pre-production process may appear drawn out, poor tooling will slow down your project as you wait for repairs to be completed. What are some of the benefits of tooling in manufacturing?

  • Cost-effective: With quality workmanship and resources at your disposal, tooling inserts and needs can be met in-house rather than hiring out for custom project needs.
  • Quality finish: Delivering a product on a budget is our goal, but the tooling process can also mean that mass-produced products each have an even finish that meets expectations and the project scope.
  • Accuracy: During the prototyping phase, we can determine the best tools and specifications for your project. If a poor quality tool holder is chosen for an incompatible material, the loss of balance during the manufacturing process runs the risk of lost material.
  • Repeatable results: When it comes to high-volume production runs, prototyping and tooling processes can remove the risk of a complication, giving you peace of mind with repeatable results every time.

What is the cost of tooling in manufacturing?

When choosing the best CNC machine shop to partner with for your project, cost can be the determining factor. At Condor Machinery, our tooling and custom fixture processes are each done in-house so we can continue to offer the highest level of quality products for our clients. Tooling costs are influenced by four factors: material, labour, quality, and complexity.

The material needed for the fixture or custom tool depends on the strength required. Does it need to be stronger for a heavier metal type or lightweight? If a tool is too lightweight, it will break more quickly, whereas if a tool is too hard for the part material, it will decrease the quality of the finished product.

Additional labour required to create custom cutting tools or fixtures will be reflected in your project scope and estimate. Manufacturing a custom tool is a necessary step for more complex projects to ensure we deliver quality parts, every time. 

The quality of the tool will depend on what materials it can be used on. We consider factors such as brittleness, machine compatibility, reactions to heat, and its preciseness for cuts. If a tool does not meet the requirements for the project scope or CNC machine, it will be discarded.

Complexity deals with the designs and cuts needed to complete the manufacturing process. The simpler the design, the fewer cuts and tools are required to complete the part. When a design has more intricate cuts or turns, it will increase the tooling costs as we will consider the grip, finish, and material type.

Interested in learning more about our tooling process? Check out our custom CNC machining services and request a quote!

Why Choose Condor Machinery

Whether you are looking to produce your prototype, learn more about complex part designs, or improve the quality of your manufactured components, we are here to help! As your full-service Edmonton CNC machine shop, our custom machining services include repairs and maintenance to get your equipment operating as it should in no time, in addition to tooling, engineering and design assistance, and industrial engraving

Have a project in mind that you want to start today? Request a quote with your designs, material specs, quantity and your contact information.

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