Manufacturing Volumes, Tooling, and Piece Price

Posted February 25th, 2016 by Bailey Jones

Many manufacturing processes require specialized hardware that is specific to the part being made. This is called the tooling. The tooling is what allows parts to be made efficiently at high volumes. The expense of the tooling is usually covered by an up-front fee (or a partial payment) to be paid to the manufacturer before production begins. Tooling cost could range from less than $100 for a simple sheetmetal part to over $20,000 for a complicated hand-held size plastic part. Injection molding tooling for larger plastic parts can easily run over $100,000. On the other hand, with efficient processes and efficient tooling the individual piece price for these same parts could be as low as a few dollars or even a few cents. So, the natural consequence is that the tooling price has great influence over the practical production volumes.

Let’s take a look at some actual examples. I’ve chosen these examples as good representatives of their categories; there will always be exceptions that vary widely from what I’ve represented here.

Item:               Glasses Frame

Process:           Injection Molding

Material:         Polypropylene plastic

Size:                 5.7” (145mm) wide

Tooling:           $11,860 USD

Quantity:        5000    15,000

Piece Price:     $0.27   $0.26 USD

Country:          Taiwan, PRC

drw0004

Item:               Jewel Box

Process:           Injection Molding

Material:         ABS plastic

Size:                 2.6” (66mm) long

Tooling:           $10,700 USD

Quantity:        1000

Piece Price:     $0.87 USD

Country:          Taiwan, PRC

band-perspective-view-02

Item:               Watchband

Process:           Injection Molding

Material:         Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)

Size:                 3.5” (90mm) long

Tooling:           $5470 USD

Quantity:        2000

Piece Price:     $1.10

Country:          China

drw0001

Item:               Bracket

Process:           Formed Sheetmetal

Material:         .048” (1.2mm) Cold Rolled Steel

Size:                 2” (50mm)

Tooling:           none

Quantity:        16                       4000

Piece Price:     $29 USD          $4 USD

Country:          USA

drw0010

Item:               Track

Process:           Extrusion

Material:         Aluminum

Size:                 8” (200mm) long

Tooling:           $856 USD

Quantity:        1000

Piece Price:     $1.73 USD

Country:          USA

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