If you work in the manufacturing industry or are trying to get your start, you’ve probably heard about many different types of tooling. In reality, tooling falls into three basic categories: production, prototype, and bridge tooling.
- Production Tooling
The tooling that falls in the production category is tooling for a product that is ready for production – that means it has already been tested for all aspects of functionality.
Production tooling has to be a precision art because it focuses on the final product and has to have the best possible results. This means production tooling is both the last phase of the tooling process and will most likely take the longest and be the most expensive.
- Prototype Tooling
Prototype tooling is essentially the developing and testing phase of the production process. Creating new products is generally a risky and expensive process, so prototype tooling is a good way to lessen the risk.
It helps to identify any issues that could potentially come up later with the form or function of the product. This is the learning phase of the process, and any adjustments that need to be made before production can be done here.
- Bridge Tooling
Bridge tooling is also known as pilot production and semi-production, so you may have heard it called by other names in the past. The word “bridge” hints at the definition of this phase because this is the mid-point of the process between the prototype and production.
This is the speedy part of the process and generally the cheapest, so a lot of manufacturers will linger on this step while preparing the production tooling.
Knowing the phases of production are important to strategizing, having an efficient process, and ensuring that the final product is the best possible combination of functionality and form.