Tooling Life Expectations
A critical issue in tooling design is balancing cost, quality and schedule within the expectations of tooling life. One needs a completely different approach for a single usage 350 F tool than for fabricating 200 parts at 350 F. I frequently see prototype tooling being stretched beyond its design life, which sometimes results in catastrophic failure!
Other factors that drive lay-up tool design are the release systems utilized by customers as well as indoor or outdoor storage. I have seen military tools stored in the desert that are sand etched and boat molds that are stored outside in Maine at -20 F. We recently shipped a tool to South Africa that sat on the deck of a transatlantic voyage. The steel substructure was not adequately painted and became badly corroded.
The phrase “there is a right tool for every job” certainly applies, and at Janicki we are stubbornly material agnostic with solutions ranging from $100 to more than $3,000 per square foot. Lower cost solutions exist across all markets, with performance and quality reductions.
Ancillary assembly tooling design is often overlooked, but can play a key role in such activities as trimming part edges, drilling accurate holes and cutting hatches. These do not need to be overengineered or expensive and often can be fabricated from fiberglass, steel or aluminum. Vacuum clamping of parts is effective, cheap and easy to incorporate.
Spend some time studying your tooling design needs upfront, and hopefully you will avoid putting parts together backwards!