Where I work, we have a full-service tool and die shop where we can produce hard tooling (blanking dies), as well as steel-rule and pierce dies in-house. In working with designers and engineers, we often receive questions regarding dies and tooling tolerances. Following is a quick reference.
Steel-rule die is best when you:
- Have ±0.015 tolerance;
- Have slight flexibility within your dimensions;
- Need quicker turnaround for die production;
- Want low production costs.
Blanking die is best when you:
- Have ±0.005 tolerance;
- Have use for heavy substrates;
- Demand tight tolerance;
- Have products used by the medical or engineering industries.
The advice of one of our tool and die makers is when you’re designing new nameplates and labels, try not to over-engineer the part. Put yourself in the place of the person building the tool, be realistic, and don’t get too crazy. Provide as much tolerance as possible to minimize the time needed to set up each phase of production, thereby reducing costs.
Another important element to consider is the placement of any holes, cutouts, or slots along the outside edges. When possible, try not to get too close to the outside edges, especially when using thicker materials. For functional parts that require multiple holes, consider using one oblong hole versus two separate holes.
Depending on the complexity of your part and your needs, several tooling options are available. Work closely with your industrial printer supplier to find a solution that meets your needs in the most cost-effective manner available.
Dave Wittenberg joined Mcloone in 1978 as a tool and die maker. With a degree in Mechanical Design Technology, he uses his skills in building tooling that meets customer demands and satisfies all product design requirements.