How can engineering software cut the cost of tooling for manufacturers and reduce lead times for tooling development?

How can engineering software cut the cost of tooling for manufacturers and reduce lead times for tooling development?



Tooling comes in a variety of forms from welding, grinding, forging or a special die for cold forming. It plays a key role in manufacturing for parts, if inaccurate or imprecise this then affects the quality and accuracy of a finished part.

However, as vital as tooling is to manufacturing, there still remains questions, particularly from customers about costing. It can often be a complex and difficult process which means there are many misconceptions about manufacturing projects being excessively high.


The continued advancement of engineering software has allowed engineers to design, test and analyse their tooling on screen rather than in tool-rooms. This has not only reduced the time it takes to complete the tooling processes but also the costs it takes to create tools for manufacturing parts.  Whilst time and cost may have been reduced, the quality has not, even with timely production runs.

Engineering high-quality tooling, especially for the latest high speed, multi-spindle CNC machines and cold forming systems is a highly-skilled, professionally led business. And while a successful outcome will always depend on the skills and experience of the tool and die maker, the process of tooling development has been dramatically enhanced in recent years with the introduction of powerful computer aided design, modelling and simulation software.

Although this iterative methodology continues today, the use of advanced engineering tools, such as the SolidWorks computer aided design and engineering platform and Scientific Forming Technologies’ DEFORM metal forming and process simulation software, has enabled the process of tool design, analysis and testing to be carried out on-screen, rather than in the tool-room. This effectively eliminates the traditional trial and error approach commonly associated with tool making and allows correctly dimensioned and quality approved tooling to be manufactured ‘right first time’.

Our approach

Here at Dawson Shanahan, we use the power of these software tools, working with each customer to explain how tooling costs are calculated and then finding the solution that works best for both parties. Typically, this might either be a one-off charge or an agreement to amortise the cost of tooling across the lifetime of the project.

Whichever route is chosen, a critical step in the process will always be to consider how the cost of both tooling and the overall project can best be reduced, while ensuring all other criteria, such as part quality and delivery deadlines, remain unaffected. Such an approach has the potential to enhance customer service and reputation for those companies selling upwards through the supply chain.