Re: Soft/Hard Tooling

From: Professor P M Dickens (
Date: Fri May 15 1998 - 18:31:31 EEST

Please find my definitions that appeared in Paul Jacobs book.

Prof. Phill Dickens
De Montfort University

The definition depends on whom you talk to, as there are different ways
of considering the techniques and the applications. The main
definitions are:

1. Tools required for small production quantities. This obviously
depends on the product and its application. In some industries such as
defense and aerospace a large production run can be two - three
thousand. Whereas in the consumer products industry a large run will be
many millions and two - three thousand is just a prototype quantity.

2. Soft tooling is normally associated with low cost and so the terms
soft and low cost are often used interchangeably.

3. The most obvious definition for soft tooling corresponds to the type
of material used for manufacturing the tool. With this definition hard
tooling is often referring to that made from hardened tool steels.
Materials with lower hardness are considered 'soft', eg silicones,
rubber, epoxies, low melting point alloys, zinc alloys, aluminium etc.

 4. It is also possible to define soft tooling by the method of
manufacture. Most hardened steel tools are manufactured by either
conventional machine cutting processes or variations of Electrical
Discharge Machining (EDM). This chapter will concentrate on those
techniques that use non-machining processes, as machining is covered
extensively elsewhere. The only exception will be in the direct use of
RP&M models for EDM electrodes, as this is a novel application.

Kiril Sotirov wrote:
> Dear list,
> I am quite new to RP. I would like to ask whether there is a
> definition of hard tooling, and what are the exact differences between
> hard and soft tooling.
> Thank you very much.
> Kiril Sotirov
> Graduate Student

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