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Tool and Dye Maker Careers, Jobs and Employment Information

Tool and Dye Maker Career and Job Highlights

  • The majority of tool and dye makers are trained for 4 or 5 years through postsecondary courses or apprenticeship programs, and apprenticeship programs are normally favored by employees.
  • Great prospects exist for those applicants possessing the needed skills and background.

Tool and Dye Maker Career and Job Description

Some of the most skilled employees in production are tool and dye makers. They make tools, dyes, and customized guiding and holding devices that allow production equipment to produce many different kinds of products, from clothes and furniture to heavy components used in airplanes.

Toolmakers make a variety of tools and machines that must be utilized in the cutting, shaping, and forming of metals and other supplies. Additionally, toolmakers make jigs and fixtures, which are tools that hold metal while boring, stamping, or drilling is being done, as well other devices used to make measurements like gauges. Dye makers produce metal forms (dyes) which are utilized thin shaping metal for stamping and forging tasks. Additionally, dye makers produce metal molds for dye casting or molding plastics, ceramics, and composite substances. To decide the best way to produce a part, some tool and die makers will design and create prototypes of components. Besides the working on the development, design, and production of tools and dies, these employees might also make repairs on old or broken tools, dies, jigs, fixtures, and gauges.

Tool and dye makers must use a variety of different tools and measuring equipment to carry out their work. Additionally, workers need to have familiarity with machining properties, like heat tolerance and hardness, as well as an array of other normal metals and alloys. Thus toolmakers must have and understanding of machining operations, mathematics, and blueprint reading. Typically, tool and dye makers are though of as greatly specialized machinists. The big difference between a regular machinist and tool and dye makers is that machinists tend to produce just one part throughout manufacturing while tool and dye makers produce parts and machines utilized in manufacturing.

Tool and dye makers utilize blueprints to outline the order of steps needed to produce the part or dye. Then tool and dye makers must make measurements and label the metal that is going to be cut and used in the formation of the end good. Nest workers must perform cutting, drilling, or boring of the part as planned, making sure that the finished good is produced properly and to the required specifications. Lastly, tool and dye makers put the parts together, and file, grind, and polish the part as needed.

New technological advances have helped revolutionize they way these workers carry out their tasks. Now tool and dye makers utilize computer-aided design (CAD) to design and create new products and parts. Workers can input specifications into the computer, which in turn can electronically produce drawings for the needed tools and dyes. Numerical tool and process control programmers utilize computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programs to convert electronic drawings into computer programs that include directions for an outline of cutting tool steps. After the program has been created, computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines adhere to the guidelines and specifications inputted into the program and form the desired part. While typically computer-controlled machine tool operators or machinists run CNC machines, tool and dye makers are taught how to operate CNC machines and write CNC programs, and they can carry out both duties. CNC programs can help save time and money while improving productivity since they are electronically saved and can be used again.

Tool and dye makers must first machine the product, then inspect it for precision by utilizing different tools such as coordinate measuring machines (CMM), which incorporate software and sensor arms that inspect the dimensions to determine if they match electronic blueprints. Then the parts must be assembled into a working machine. To get the parts to fit together as need, workers must perform filing, grinding, shimming, and adjustments on the parts. Lastly, to ensure that parts meet all required specs, the workers must design a test run using the produced tools and dyes. Finally, the tool and dye makers set up a test run using the tools or dies they have made to make sure that the manufactured parts meet specifications. Adjustments to tools and dyes must be made when errors arise.

Tool and Dye Maker Training and Job Qualifications

The majority of tool and dye makers acquire training through 4 or 5 years of education and training in formal apprenticeships or postsecondary programs. Apprenticeship programs combine in class teaching with real work experience, frequently requiring 10,400 hours, or close to 5 years to finish. Most employees consider apprenticeships the best method to becoming qualified for work as a tool and dye maker. The amount of workers receiving training via community and technical colleges is increasing, and sometimes it is combined with an apprenticeship program.

Most tool and dye makers will still need more work experience to become highly skilled, even after finishing up an apprenticeship program. The majority will finds areas of specialization, be it in tools, molds, or dyes.

Some of the tasks learned by tool and die makers includes operation of milling machines, lathes, grinders, wire electrical discharge machines, and various other machine tools. Too and die makers will learn how to utilize different hand tools used to fit and assemble gauges or other mechanical and metal-forming equipment. Additionally, these workers must learn the metalworking processes, like heat treating and plating. In class instruction typically involves mechanical drawing, tool designing, blueprint comprehension, tool programming, and courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and basic statistics. Since tool and dye makers work with CAD technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines they must also have sound computer skills.

Those who don’t enroll in apprenticeships normally will learn their skills via work experience and taking courses at a vocational school or community college. These workers might start as machine operators and eventually be assigned harder tasks. Also, a lot of machinists become tool and dye makers.
The job of tool and dye makers necessitates workers be highly skilled with precision measuring equipment, and be very detailed and patient since most of the work done must meet precise specs, such as precision to one ten-thousandth of an inch. Good vision is a must. Tool and dye makers must also have mechanical aptitude, be problem solvers, have and have the capacity to be extremely focused while exerting physical effort.

There are many different ways for promotion. Some workers will become supervisors or administrators for their employers. Others may work towards their college degree and become engineers or tool designers. Still others may start their own business.

Tool and Dye Maker Job and Employment Opportunities

Those with the necessary knowledge and skill set will have good prospects for jobs. There is expected to be fewer qualified applicants than the number of job positions made available through retirement and transfers to other jobs. Employers are relaying it is their experience that is hard to replace highly skilled workers who retire with comparably qualified workers. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the most of the nation’s youth that have the required education and background for tool and die making decide to go to college or enter different occupations.

Even though job prospects are expected to be great, very little if any growth in employment of tool and dye makers is expected over the 2002-12 timeframe since improvements in automation, such as CNC machine tools and computer-aided design, will increase worker productivity, thereby limiting employment. However, tool and dye makers are vital to the building and maintenance of sophisticated manufacturing systems. Companies will be forced into reliance on skilled tool and dye makers to provide their retooling expertise as these companies bring in new equipment, change production processes, and implement product design changes.

Historical Earnings Information

In 2002, the average hourly wages of tool and dye makers were $20.54. The middle 50 percent made anywhere from $16.33 to $25.64. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $12.97, while the highest 10 percent made upwards of $30.74 an hour.