The special tooling and machining industry in the Americas, Asia, and Europe is comprised, in the majority of cases, of independently owned companies. These companies could be described as the prototype of all small business. They design and build special tools, dies, jigs, fixtures, moulds, die-casting dies, gages, special machines, and precision machined parts and components. Some of the companies in this industry specialize in single machining processes.
The companies usually work with metal but are not limited to any specific material. They often engage in auxiliary work, such as metal stamping, proprietary products and production, but their primary business is the custom manufacture of special tooling or precision machining. Some firms also specialize in experimental and research and development work.
The companies in this industry use a wide variety of equipment and processes, including all machine tools from the simplest engine lathe to the most complex CNC machining centre, electrical discharge machine (EDM), sonic grinders and lasers. Equipment measuring in microns (.0001 inches) is considered commonplace. Computers are regularly used in design, machining, and in control of operations. Materials worked range from ordinary steel to the most exotic alloys, as well as plastics, non-ferrous metals, and non-metallic ubstances.
Among the major customers of the special tooling and machining industry are: automotive, aerospace/aircraft, appliance, consumer products, agricultural implements, medical, electronics, semiconductor equipment, and many others. In fact, almost every manufacturer relies on the services and products of the special tooling and machining industry.