Archive for the ‘Carbide Die Manufacturing’ Category

trump-manufacturingAs the US awaits the presidency of President Elect Donald Trump there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground in reactions to his election. This article isn’t going to take a side, but what it will do is take a look at what his presumed policies and people’s opinions of him will do for the manufacturing sector. Doesn’t he mean make the US economy great again when he says “Make America Great Again”? Specifically, we will be looking at the case of carbide dies and tooling as an example.

US manufacturing has vacillated between stagnant and losing ground since the 1980’s. Most American’s can’t even remember a time when America was booming in this important sector. Frustration in the lagging industrial strength of the US, and all of its benefits (jobs) was a major factor in pushing Trump into the oval office. Business owners and workers alike feel change is needed. Unfortunately for Hillary, she never seemed to offer that desired change. Owners of companies have chaffed under what is perceived as pour trade deals for two decades while workers have watched their jobs move off shore. For many business owners the idea of a businessman in the oval office has long been desired. I’m not saying they all felt Trump was the one they all wanted, but anything would be better than continuing down our current path. His rhetoric on fixing the US trade deficient and reversing the trend of US jobs being sent across borders rang true to them and their labor force. Not all of them obviously, but I’ll get to the other side in a minute. For these voters, Trumps deal making and tough talk was a welcome change to continued globalization and further neglect of the rust belt.

Trump promised to renegotiate almost every trade agreement the US is involved in and doesn’t seem to care whose feathers he ruffles in the process. He has stated that he wants the Mexican/US trade deficit evened out through tariffs against Mexican imports.  He said he would put a 45% terrify on Chinese goods as well, forcing them to stop their currency manipulation which artificially gives their goods an advantage. Furthermore Trump says he will send an army of lawyers to contest China’s unfair practices such as government subsidizing to bolster industries. The Chinese government, known for hard dealing itself has bulked at this, calling him a misguided fool in party run newspapers. Perhaps most importantly however, Trump wants to cut the tax on corporations. This could lead to either greater investment in the struggling manufacturing sector or just more money in the pockets of the wealthy – what Hillary called “Trumped up economics.”

On the other side of the fence, business doesn’t like volatility and Trump offers that in spades. Business flourishes in environments where the future is predictable. Trump business critics point out that a trade war with China will only hurt us both and tariffs on Chinese goods will only move production to other countries like Vietnam,  where labor is 20-23% lower than in China.

Now for our case study. Carbide dies are an essential part of production in many industries. They are the parts that make parts. Carbide dies and tooling are used to construct everything from nuts and bolts to medical equipment and musical instruments. China has recently entered into the market making lower end products, by making up for a lack of quality with low cost tooling they have gained a foothold. US manufacturers using these products have been short sighted, as it cost more to stop production and change dies than the money they saved on inferior products. However, China still has entered the market in areas where it is easier to mass produce dies. A tariff on these dies would be of some benefit to the US die makers but wouldn’t stop the competition that comes from Japan. Additionally, 80% of the element of carbide is located in China, however tariffs wouldn’t affect imports of carbide since the Chinese won’t export it. They are keeping their supplies to themselves! They are playing the long game when it comes to carbide, a resource that some experts have said the planet will run out of in 50 years! This should make you stop and think for a moment. This is big. The Chinese aren’t looking for the quick dollar, they are shrewd. They know the price will go up so they are holding out while the US rushes to capitalize on all its natural resources.

If you have ever played a strategy game where you fight for resources you would know that selling your finite resources early is a bad decision. The US doesn’t have a captain at its helm, it is just reacting to generate the greatest profit immediately. It is the hope of so many in our nations industries that not only can Trump level the playing field but bring the leadership we need to manage our nations resources, both human and natural. Love him or hate him, US industry needs to stick together and maybe even hope for the best under The Donald.

 

What is a DIe Maker?

So are these die makers?

Tool and die makers are machinists in manufacturing industries who make jigs, fixtures, dies, molds, machine tools, cutting tools, gauges, and other tools used in manufacturing processes. A machinist may be called by various names depending on which area of concentration a particular person works in, such as tool maker or die maker.

Tool and die makers work primarily in tool room environments but more often are in a workshop environment. They are skilled artisans who typically learn their trade through a combination of school and hands-on instruction, with a long period of on-the-job training. Science and art are mixed into their work as well as some engineering concepts. Mechanical engineers and tool and die makers often work closely to design parts and make sure all facets of the job can be completed properly. Both careers involve some level of talent in both creativity and math-and-science. Being a job-shop machinist can combine aspects of toolmaker and production machinist. Some will work solely as machine operators, while others may switch fluidly between tool room tasks and production tasks.

Working from engineering drawings, toolmakers begin by cutting out the design on the raw material, then cut/grind the material to the specified size and shape using manually controlled machine tools (lathes, mills, ID and OD grinding machines, and jig grinders), power tools (die grinders and rotary tools), and hand tools (diamond files, diamond powders and honing stones). Materials used in tool and dies range from steel to tungsten carbide.

Tool and die makers have increasingly had to add computer skills to their daily work, since the addition of computing in the manufacturing fields (CNC, CAD, CAM, and other computer-aided technologies). Today’s tool and die makers are often required to have mastered all of the traditional skills plus substantial digital skills. The combination of hands on skilled labor and digital knowledge make tool and die production a formidable task to master, and one that pays well if mastered!

Tool making
Tool making basically means making tooling used to produce products, or making parts that make parts. Frequently made tools include metal forming rolls, lathe bits, cutters, and fixtures. Due to the unique nature of a toolmaker’s work, it is often necessary to fabricate custom tools or modify standard tools.

Die making
Die making is a sub sect of tool making that focuses mostly on making and maintaining dies. This often includes making punches, dies, draw dies, extrusion dies and carbide dies. Precision is the key to die making. When making dies there will be extremely close tolerances that the machinist must keep the parts within, as dies are usually precise manufacturing tools. Punches and dies must maintain proper clearance to produce parts accurately, and it is often necessary to have die sets machined with tolerances of less than one thousandth of an inch!

Overlap
A veteran machinist may be called upon to perform all of the above jobs, and the skills and concepts involved often overlap, which is why “tool and die making” is commonly viewed as a single field.

Training
Many tool and die makers begin an apprenticeship with an employer, sometimes including a mix of classroom training and hands-on experience. Prior knowledge of mathematics, science, engineering or design and technology can be valuable to any new machinist. A lot of tool and die makers work a 4-5 year apprenticeship program to achieve the status of a journeyman tool and die maker. Today’s employment opportunities often differ in name and detail from the traditional arrangement of an apprenticeship. The terms “apprentice” and “journeyman” are not always used, but the idea of a period of years of on-the-job training to master the field still applies for new machinists.

In the United States, tool and die makers who graduate from NTMA (National Tooling and Machining Association) take 4 years of college courses as well as work 10,000 hours in order to complete their apprenticeship. They are also accredited through the U.S. Department of Labor.

Jig/fixture maker
A jig and fixture maker is a type of tool and die maker/toolmaker. The difference between jigs and fixtures is that a jig is what mounts onto a work piece, and a fixture has the work piece placed on it, into it, or next to it. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

An engineer often advises them. Knowledge of various materials is necessary beyond standard wood and metal, such as plastics. Jig/fixture makers also can create, design and build fixtures without engineering plans/blueprints.

Jig/fixture makers gain hands on practical experience while monitoring and making alterations as the engineer improves the manufacturing process. They also can be required to make these adjustments without the help of an engineer, depending on the size and resources of the company. Some Jigs and fixtures require electronic and pneumatic actuation, which will involve knowledge/training in these fields as well.

Properly built jigs and fixtures reduce waste by insuring perfectly fitting parts, reducing adjustments needed to fix the problem. Jigs and fixtures can be as big as a car or be held in hand. Production needs dictate form and function. Jigs, fixtures and gages are necessary to maintain quality standards for repeated low and high volume production demands.

The continued advancement of computerized design and control technologies, such as CAD/CAM, CNC, PLC, and others, has reduced the use of jigs in manufacturing. However, all the computer run machines need some sort of clamping fixture to hold parts for production runs. For example, a drill jig is not needed to guide drill bits to the hole centers if a CNC is used, since it is Computer Numerically Controlled. However, fixtures are still needed to hold the parts in place for the operation needed. Jigs are currently needed in many areas of manufacturing but mainly for low-volume production.

More Information About Tool & Die Makers:
How to become a Die Maker
Where are Carbide Die Companies Located?
Carbide Die Makers – What they make, there compensation and job outlook for die makers.

The Carbide Die Makers Tool Box

The Carbide Die Makers Tool Box

What’s the employment outlook for Carbide Die makers?
Here’s some data on jobs working in the Tool and Die industry, as a machinist or die maker. Carbide die specialists, CNC specialists or other specialists may make more. Obviosly experienced workers, formen and plant (floor) managers will make more than this. Unfortunatly this info is a little dated, US manufacturing has been doing well the last couple of years and need for tool and die workers in particular has been increasing considerably, this isn’t reflected in the numbers below. However, this should give you a good idea of what’s going on.

2012 Median Pay – $40,910 per year or $19.67 per hour
Entry-Level Education – High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation – None
On-the-job Training
Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 – 476,200
Job Outlook, 2012 – 7%
Employment Change, 2012 – +33,700
What Machinists and Tool and Die Makers Do?
Machinists and tool and die makers prepare and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically-controlled machine tools to produce precision parts, instruments, and tools. These parts are typically

manufactured out of tungsten carbide or steel.

Work Environment:
Machinists and tool and die makers can work in machine shops, tool rooms, and factories. Machinists work full time during regular business hours most of the time, although overtime is often common, as is evening and weekend work.

How to Become a Machinist or Tool and Die Maker:
There are many paths a future machinist can take such as apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, community and technical colleges, or receiving training on-the-job. Becoming a fully trained tool and die maker takes a combination of several years of technical instruction and on-the-job training. A high school diploma is necessary.

Where to find online work:
Just get online and look around. Here’s some leads for you.
monster.com
indeed.com

Note: If you are in SE Michigan check this Carbide Dies manufacturer

Pay:
In May of 2012, the median hourly wage for machinists was $18.99. The median hourly wage for tool and die makers was $22.60 in the same month.

Job Outlook:
Machinist and tool and die maker employment is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022. Employing computer skills and being about to perform multiple tasks in a machine shop will create the best job opportunities.

 

Carbide Dies

Carbide Dies

Tungsten demand is sensitive to the economic conditions of the world due to its heavy end use applications in machinery and steel. Over the past year, tungsten prices have reflected a Chinese economy that is slowing. In 2012, tungsten is estimated to have contracted. The rapid increase of price in 2011 cause many consumers to build inventories of tungsten. APT prices averaged $318/mtu in December 2012, according to Metal Pages, which is the lowest level since December 2010. CPM Group expects tungsten demand to continue to grow supported by China’s economic conditions, although at a slower pace than previous years.
Approximately eighty-five percent of tungsten produced globally is produced in China. As part of China’s long-term plans for economic development, mining policies have been introduced over the years. Although the Chinese government has attempted to make the market more transparent, the market remains obscure. A shift in Chinese tariff or export policies could restructure the market in the future.
Both Chinese and non-Chinese producers are expected to come on-stream in the next few years creating a healthy outlook to the tungsten market. Projects in Vietnam, South Korea and Britain will create additional supply and could keep a cap on the tungsten prices. Tungsten’s unique physical properties and lack of worthwhile substitutes should help support demand, as well as prices, despite the growth in supply.