||This article needs additional removed. (September 2008)|
Tool and die makers are workers in the manufacturing industry who make jigs, fixtures, dies, molds, machine tools, cutting tools (such as milling cutters and form tools), gauges, and other tools used in manufacturing processes. Depending on which area of concentration a particular person works in, he or she may be called by variations on the name, including tool maker (toolmaker), die maker (diemaker), mold maker (moldmaker), tool fitter (toolfitter), etc.
Tool and die makers are a class of Job-shop machinists can be any combination of toolmaker and production machinist. Some work only as machine operators, whereas others switch fluidly between toolroom tasks and production tasks.
 Job description
Traditionally, working from CNC machine tools to perform these tasks.
 Tool making
Tool making typically means making tooling used to produce products. Common tools include metal forming rolls, lathe bits, milling cutters, and form tools. Tool making may also include precision fixturing or machine tools used to manufacture, hold, or test products during their fabrication. Due to the unique nature of a tool maker’s work, it is often necessary to fabricate custom tools or modify standard tools.
 Die making
Die making is a subgenre of tool making that focuses on making and maintaining dies. This often includes making punches, dies, steel rule dies, and die sets. Precision is key in die making; punches and dies must maintain proper clearance to produce parts accurately, and it is often necessary to have die sets machined with tolerances of less than one thousandth of an inch.
One person may be called upon for all of the above activities, and the skills and concepts involved overlap, which is why “tool and die making” is often viewed as one field.
Although the details of training programs vary, many tool and die makers begin an journeyman tool and die maker. Today’s employment relationships often differ in name and detail from the traditional arrangement of an apprenticeship, and the terms “apprentice” and “journeyman” are not always used, but the idea of a period of years of on-the-job training leading to mastery of the field still applies.
 Jig maker
A jig maker is another term for a tool and die maker or fixture maker, usually in woodworking or in the metal industries. The standard differentiation of jigs from fixtures is that a jig is what mounts onto a workpiece, whereas a fixture has the workpiece placed on it, into it, or next to it. (The terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but most toolmakers consider this improper usage.) A jig maker needs to know how to use an assortment of machines to build devices used in automation, mass production operations.
They are often advised by an engineer to do the pre-planned work of building the devices. In a production shop they need to know about an extensive assortment of machines, tools, and materials, and are often the most experienced toolmakers or woodworkers. They are often the ones who create from the original plans, the jigs, the fixtures and devices designed by and with the occasional assistance of the production engineer.
The reason jig makers need to be experienced is so that they can make suggestions for efficient alterations and needed repairs. They sometimes assist and monitor the progress of the jig or the fixture’s gauging, locating, and innovative ability. Those who graduate to the level of jig and fixture makers often go on to gain automation skills, and the use of air, and electronic clamping procedures, and automation principles and equipment. They often need to know not only how to use basic machines to cut and machine steel and wood. For the most advanced, they need to be familiar with switches and the use of air supply equipment, various instruments, switches, hydraulic clamps, gauges, and more.
Properly built jigs and fixtures reduces waste, and produce perfect fitting parts, cutting out too much expensive hand work, mistakes and waste. Most are portable, and can be built or even moved throughout a facility. Some jigs and fixtures are as big as a car for placing a whole fender or chassis into them for assembly. The need for jigs and good gauging is necessary in furniture making for controlling quality and repeatability. A jig maker focuses on building tools in order to avoid placing parts incorrectly.
The ongoing evolution of computerized design and control technologies, such as PLC, and others, has changed the nature of the requirements for jigs in manufacturing, in many cases reducing the need for jigs. A common example is that a drill jig is not needed to guide the drill bits to the hole centers if it is instead CNC that will do the guiding. However, fixtures are still usually needed, and jigs are still important parts of many areas of manufacturing, most especially in low-cost-labor countries, where relatively more manually controlled work (especially assembly) is still done.
 See also
- Tool and die makers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retrieved April 8, 2009