Alternative Tooling Technologies for Low Volume Stamping 1999-01-3216
Low volume manufacturing has become increasingly important for the automotive industry. Globalization trends have led automakers and their suppliers to operate in developing regions where minimum efficient scales can not always be achieved. With proper maintenance, standard cast iron stamping tools can be used to produce millions of parts, but require large investments. Thus at high production volumes, the impact of the tooling investment on individual piece costs is minimized. However, at low volumes there is a substantial cost penalty.
In light of the trends towards localized manufacturing and relatively low demands in some developing markets, low cost stamping tools are needed. Several alternate tooling technologies exist, each of which require significantly lower initial investments, but suffer from greatly reduced tool lives. However, the use of these technologies at intermediate to high volumes requires multiple tool sets thus eliminating their cost advantage.
This paper considers three alternative tooling materials technologies; kirksite, epoxy and nickel shell-reinforced concrete dies. These technologies are still in the developmental stage and thus many of the important manufacturing parameters are still unclear. However, kirksite and nickel shell - reinforced concrete dies both show promise at volumes below 100,000 parts per year. Epoxy dies, on the other hand, appear to be cost effective only for extremely low volumes, in most cases associated with prototyping or series production.