Tooling by Design


 

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The Experts Among Us

By: Peter Ulintz

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
 

Metalformers require highly skilled, educated and adaptable workers willing to retrain and update their skills to keep pace with changing technology. Stamping of advanced materials often requires workers to learn new process technologies, such as composite sheet forming and additive manufacturing. And, skilled technicians must then gain new skills to implement, optimize and support these processes.

Skilled workers are lacking in several professional trades, including tool and die design and CNC automation programming. Our industry also needs welders and welding engineers with skills and experience in welding of advanced high-strength steels, stainless steels and aluminum alloys.

Today’s die-buyoff process no longer consists of a run-at-rate and the production of dimensionally correct parts. We need metalforming specialists—or formability engineers—able to ensure that strain distributions and thinning gradients in stamped parts correlate well with computer simulations. These specialists must establish important process parameters such as blank-edge draw-in, springback boundaries and thinning strains, to ensure stable and controlled manufacturing processes. Their tools of the trade include circle grids, tensile-test data, strain distributions, thickness strain maps, forming-limit curves, ultrasonic-thickness gauges and friction-test data.

Apprentices entering the tool and die trades must be trained to become primarily metalforming specialists, not programmers, machinists and assemblers. The traditional tool and die maker of the 1980s is not required today; rather, we need specialists experienced and trained in advanced metalforming processes and material technologies.

Where will this skilled workforce come from? Relying upon apprenticeship programs that focus primarily on machining, assembly, measuring and repairing tooling simply will not suffice. Instead, metalformers and die shops must engage with subject-matter experts to acquire knowledge not readily available within their own companies. This type of knowledge, experience and expertise generally comes from experts outside the organization, via, for example, seminars and conferences. In these arenas, attendees can network with industry peers and subject-matter experts to expand their personal knowledge while developing an expansive network of resources for the exchange of ideas and problem-solving strategies.

Where do these subject-matter experts come from? Very likely, one resides somewhere inside your company; perhaps it is you. If you have specialized experience or a focused interest, perhaps in materials, factory automation, quality processes, multi-slide tooling, die welding, die maintenance, press-brake operations, etc., please consider sharing your knowledge and experience with industry peers by delivering a technical presentation at FABTECH later this year. PMA invites interested members to submit an abstract for consideration for the 2017 stamping-track sessions at FABTECH, November 6-9, 2017, in Chicago, IL. Apply by visiting www.fabtechexpo.com/education; deadline is April 7, 2017.

Another opportunity to share your expertise with the industry is to present at a PMA seminar. Seminar speakers experience intrinsic satisfaction knowing that they are contributing to the development and success of the individual attendees and also advancing the metalforming industry as a whole. Speakers routinely learn from one another and often develop lasting friendships. No presentation experience? None required. PMA offers mentoring to new speakers to help develop engaging presentations in their field of expertise and also build self-confidence. If interested, please contact me at pulintz@pma.org.

Help overcome the critical shortage of skilled metalforming technicians and specialists and become part of the solution. Please volunteer your time and talent to the industry. MF

 

Related Enterprise Zones: Tool & Die


Reader Comments

Posted by: Marv Eisen on 3/14/2017 11:44:15 PM
Having left the metal stamping industry awhile back, after a 35 year stint, I decided to see what was going on in the field. Big changes, obviously. When I read "The traditional tool and die maker of the 1980s is not required today" I almost fell over! Really? Back when I was was running manufacturing, tool and die makers were scarcer than hens teeth and the only way to get one was to look over your neighbors fence, if you know what I mean. No need for tool and die makers? I bet most shop owners will be surprised to hear this.

 

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