Guideline to Tooling Costs

When manufacturing deep-drawn metal components, the quality of the tooling ultimately determines the quality of the final product. Cutting corners on tooling design and manufacturing or using substandard materials can often be detrimental to the success of a production run.

At Hudson Technologies, all of our tooling is supported in-house, from design through manufacturing and finishing. We charge a one-time tooling fee at the beginning of the project, consisting of 50% upfront and 50% at the first article acceptance. Afterwards, we offer a number of benefits at no additional charge—we will store, maintain, and refurbish the tooling throughout the length of the project, while our client retains ownership of the tooling.

What is Tooling?

Hard tooling is the method through which components are shaped into the desired final product. This method converts flat or coiled metals into deep-drawn enclosures and cans. Tooling comes in a number of forms, including (but not limited to):

  • Hold-downs
  • Punches
  • Dies
  • Knockouts

To create the desired shape for a deep-drawn enclosure, multiple press operations are often needed. Each operation may require its own unique tooling. The process involves first blanking and drawing the raw material into a shallow bowl shape. From here, additional press operations work to reduce the component’s diameter and increase its depth, shaping it into the product.

Hudson uses three basic types of tooling for this process: stage tooling, progressive die tooling, and transfer press tooling.

Deep-Drawn Tooling Types

Depending on the budget and the desired quantities of parts for the project, we will determine the appropriate type of one or more types of tooling to satisfy our client’s needs.

Stage Tooling

This tooling method has the highest per-part costs, but the lowest overall tooling costs. Multiple tools are used on the same press, with tooling being changed between each operation. The high cost-per-part is due to the slow speed of the fabrication process. All stage-tooled parts are cold formed, meaning that the forming process uses no induced heat.

Occasionally, work-hardening necessitates the cleaning and annealing of certain parts between the forming operations. The annealing process slowly heats the workpiece in a furnace, making it more malleable and allowing it to undergo further press operations. This process of individual tooling and annealing is repeated until the final product is completed. Depending on the component’s material and the desired final shape, it may need to be annealed multiple times before the process is complete.

Progressive Die Tooling

Progressive dies are pricier than stage tooling, but offer a lower price per piece. While stage tooling is ideal for smaller runs, progressive die tooling is designed for high volume production runs, typically exceeding 50,000 per year.

Rather than making use of a single press and multiple tools, all required tooling is compiled into a single die set within the press. A strip of metal is then fed through the press, moving progressively through each set of tools so that each component encounters every operation in the series. The final die cuts the completed part off the strip of metal and ejects it from the press.

Transfer Press Tooling

This process is also used for high-volume production, but differs from progressive die tooling in that the part is separated from the strip of metal during the first operation. The part is then moved through the various forming operations using an automated transfer mechanism.
Hudson Tooling Comparisons

Custom Tooling and Components from Hudson Technologies

Hudson can fabricate all of the above tooling. We also offer a number of other metal forming options, including:

  • Hudson catalog products. Always made to order using stage tooling, our catalog offers over 15,000 standardized shapes and sizes of enclosures at no tooling cost. Since we don’t stock excess inventory for our catalog products, each order must meet a minimum purchase threshold.
  • Modification tooling. This process is used to modify an existing can shape—for example, by adding holes. The tooling cost for these products is minimized significantly by employing our 5-axis laser to cut modifications.
  • Diaphragm tooling. We’ve specially designed this process to stamp and form foil metals used in metal diaphragm manufacturing.

Hudson Technologies is AS9100D certified, ISO 13485:2003, and ISO 14001:2004 compliant, and we are committed to helping you bring your designs to life. Request a quote or contact us today to discuss your project and tooling needs.