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What is a Tool and Die Technician?
Tool and Die Technician is a field of study in the focused on creating, maintaining, and repairing tools used in the manufacturing process. A Tool and Die Technician may also be known as a toolmaker, diemaker, tool fitter, or mold maker in various organizations.
Toolmakers will utilize a variety of jigs, dies, molds, fixtures, cutting tools, machine tools, and gauges used in the manufacturing process. Tool and Die Technicians of the past would often create forms and tools by hand by first designing then cutting the layout with machine tools, hand tools, or power tools. Today, however, most tool and die work is done with computerized design and control technologies such as CAM, CAD, CNC, and PLC.
Top Tool and Die Degrees
Formal education programs in tool and die tech will lead students to enroll in either a certificate program or an associate’s degree. Certificate programs are a clustering of focused classrooms intended on teaching core skills to students in advance of a career in the field. A certificate in this trade will typically take around a year to complete based on full-time enrollment.
An associate’s degree, on the other hand is a two-year program for full-time students. It combines general education classes such as philosophy, sociology, history, economics, and English composition with core trade classes. Core courses may include the following areas of study:
- Computer Aided Design (CAD)
- 2D and 3D CAD
- Jigs and Fixtures
- Blueprint Reading
- Sinker and Wire EDM
- Computer Numerically Controlled Machinery (CNC)
- Machine Technology
- Mold Making
- Computer Aided Manufacturing
Employment in Tooling and Die Tech
For students that earn a college degree in Tool and Die Technician, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue. The options range from safety engineer, machinist, systems engineer, operation design, manufacturing engineer, management science, production engineer, ergonomics, management engineer, and lean manufacturing in the public or private domain to name a few possible career tracks.
Tool & Die Tech Work Overview
Work in the machine trade and machine tool trade requires a high degree of patience and precision to create fixtures, parts, pieces, and products. Historically, this trade was only associated with metalworking but in the last decade it has expanded to include plastics and wood.
Tech are trained to create product specs, create drawings, and create products utilizing an array of hand tools, power tools, and computer aided machinery to produce specific products to exact specifications.
What Tools Are Used in a Tool & Die Shop?
The exact tools you will use will wholly depend on the type of shop you end up working at and the products manufactured. Tools you will generally find in a die and tool shop include the following:
|Hand tools||Steel Rulers|
|Box-End Wrenches||Milling Machines|
What Die and Tool Jobs Exist?
After successfully completing a degree or certificate program from an accredited college, students will be ready to launch a career in a variety of industries. These industries can range from manufacturing automobile parts to aerospace parts and everything in between.
Likewise, the job duties will vary from shop to shop given the size and scope of the company. The job titles you may see when look for jobs include the following list of possibilities:
- Tool Maker
- EDM Machinist
- Die Maker
- Tool and Die Maker
- CNC Machinist
- Mold Maker
Tool & Die Technology Careers
Toolmakers can expect jobs to be robust in the coming ten year span. In fact, the employment outlook for and industrial machinery mechanic and machinist are forecast to jump by 16% and 6% respectively. In real terms, these two job titles alone will account for an additional 75,000 job opening in the coming decade.
The annual income for industrial machinery mechanics is $51,360 and $42,600 a year for machinists. Total compensation will depend on the scope of the job, education, work experience, and industry type. The largest employers of tool and die technicians are plastic mold manufacturers, automotive parts manufacturers, and metal manufacturing plants.
Additional Resources for Tool & Die Majors
For those seeking additional resources outside academia, it may be useful to start with associations such as TDM Associations like the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and state-based associations. More resources that you may find beneficial include:
- American Mold Builders Association (AMBA)
- Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT)
- American Machine Tool Distributors' Association (AMTDA)
- Association for Rotational Molders (ARM)
- International Special Tooling & Machining Association (ISTMA)
- North American Die Casting Association (NADCA)
- Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME)
- The Tooling & Manufacturing Association (TMTA)