Becoming a Tool & Die Machinist can be an attractive career due to the growing metal fabrication industry and the important role of metal stamping in such manufacturing sectors as aerospace, automotive, defense, agriculture, telecommunications, electronics and healthcare, among others. Of course, the right mindset, skills, and training are essential to a successful and satisfying career.
What is Metal Stamping and What do Tool & Die Machinists Do?
Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate sophisticated computer-controlled machine tools including milling machines and lathes to produce metal parts, tools, and instruments. With proper training, Toolmakers use precision tools to cut, shape and form metal. They also produce jigs and fixtures to hold metal while it is being stamped, drilled or bored. Die makers construct metal forms or dies used to shape metal. Tool and Die Makers work from blueprints, sketches and specifications to create digital replicas that are inputted into the machines. After proper set up of the machine, they start a cold metal cutting program and monitor the formation process through quality completion.
First, Ask Yourself if You Want to be a Tool & Die Maker
People who fit the role of a Tool & Die Maker typically have the following characteristics: attention to detail, analytical thinking, ability to work with facts, figure out problems and work with their hands.
You might ask yourself if:
- You are interested in machines, including their use, repair, and maintenance.
- You have mathematical abilities, including algebra, calculus, and statistics.
- You like working with blueprints, sketches or models.
- You like hands-on work to solve problems.
- You like working with detailed dimensions and clearances and can work with measuring instruments.
- You like following set procedures and routines.
- You have the stamina and drive to compete required training to accomplish your career objectives.
Where Can I Get Metal Stamping Training?
Follow these steps to get the training needed to become a skilled Tool & Die Machinist:
- Research and evaluate the career duties of a machinist to guide your expectations and support your training path.
- Take required preparatory coursework. At a minimum, a high school diploma is required. Take courses in metal shop, drafting, blueprint reading, as well as algebra and trigonometry classes. Additional focused career coursework is usually available in technical schools and community colleges. Here are some popular schools offering machinist trades credentials:
- Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis, MN
- Nashville State Technical Community College, Nashville, TN
- York Technical College, Rock Hill, SC
- Yavapai College, Prescott, AZ
- Yakima Valley Community College, Yakima, WA
- Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI
- Utah State University, Logan, UT
- Wichita Area Technical College, Wichita, KS
- Complete an apprenticeship. This can take as long as four years. It will include CNC machinery operation and programming, CAD design, metallurgy, and safety practices. Apprentices usually work a paid 40-hour week plus additional training.
- Get the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentials. This is a performance-based exam.
- Continue to advance your career by working closely with experienced professionals as well as to continue to seek further on-the-job learning. Becoming highly skilled takes years of experience.
Seek Proven Expertise for Quality Metal Stamping Needs
Contact Velocity Metalworks, serving the Greater St. Louis area and the Midwest. We have been recognized as a valued partner in the metal stamping industry for our strong tool design and build competency. With our metal stamping capacity, precision machining services and EDM capability, we are a full-service provider that delivers value in your tooling and stamping needs.