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Should I use Steel or Aluminum Tooling?

Q: Should I use Steel or Aluminum tooling? A: It depends....have you thought about 3D printing for production? Or how about urethane casting?

My clients usually don't know the benefits of different tooling types.

They do usually care about Cost, Lead Time, Risk, and Quality.

Do you ask your roofer what type of nailer he's going to use? Nope, but if he's up there with a hammer for a month, you might wish you'd found someone faster and more expensive that has a nail gun.

Do you ask your dentist what type of drill he's going to use? Nope, you probably just care about the cost, and whether Novocain is covered by insurance.

Do you ask your local farmer what type of tiller he uses? Of course not, you just care about the cost of the melon, and maybe whether he used pesticides on his crops.

There are so many factors that roll into decision making about tooling.

What do we really care about? - Cost - How can I reduce tooling and/or part cost? - Lead Time - How can I meet my schedule goals for distribution partners? - Risk - How much risk (budgetary OR schedule) am I willing to tolerate? - Quality - How important is product quality?

I generally recommend the following: For companies that are starting out, make a small investment to start. Choose the manufacturing method that helps get to minimum-viable-product (MVP).

Maybe that's aluminum tooling. Maybe it's 3D printing. Maybe it's soft-steel tooling in Asia. Maybe it's hard-tooling in the US.

It depends.

There are so many variables. I'd love to help you work through these, and select your best option that meets your business objectives.

Call me anytime, I love to chat about design and development.


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