Precision Metal Component Manufacturer Uses KeyCreator to Save Time and Money on Progressive Die Designs


"When you have the right CAD software it makes working with geometry easy, and it saves you time. And we all know that time is money." -Ryan Frohlich, Precise Tool & Die. 


When precise is in the name of your company, you better get it right the first time. That’s why Ryan Frohlich, Project Engineer at Precise Tool & Die, chooses KeyCreator over the other CAD systems.

Precise Tool & Die specializes in precision metal components. They use progressive dies to make products including car components, gun ammo casings, gun firing triggers, gun safety levers, vibration mounts, and much more.

Frohlich spends about half of his 40-hour work week using KeyCreator.  He appreciates the speed and options the Direct Modeler provides, especially when working with assembly models.  Frohlich says his typical day involves designing a new progressive die or making changes to one they already made. Because there are many mechanical moving parts to a die like punches, presses, bends and cutoffs, Frohlich spends a lot of time adjusting designs to ensure the final part is correct and in spec.

 “With KeyCreator, I can change things like a bolt, a hole or an angle and quickly move on to the next part of the design,” Frohlich says. “I don’t have to wait for my model to regenerate and there’s no worry about adding complexity to a feature tree. And I certainly don’t ever have to worry about recreating a model.  I am 10% to 20% faster with KeyCreator than I am with other CAD software.”

Precise Tool and Die Progressive Die DesignOne project that Frohlich is currently working on is a progressive die for a bracket that will mount a pump onto a vehicle prototype for an un-named company. That part will be used on millions of vehicles sold over the length of production of the vehicle. 
 “When a part you designed is going to be produced in the millions, it’s easy to get a little fired up about that,” Frohlich adds. 

Frohlich says they start off with flat steel and run the material through a progressive die. He says there are a lot of key dimensions and tolerances going on in a die when it is built, and the parts need to meet up with each other. There shouldn’t be any unwanted breaks or marks on the metal part.

“As any manufacturer knows, we need to make as little waste as possible and avoid making bad parts. KeyCreator lets us easily make adjustments to our designs so that we can eliminate this fear from our process,” Frohlich says.

“Our process usually starts by making the entire die in KeyCreator. We then meet to discuss the feasibility of the part, and if needed, make adjustments to bend tolerances or bend back. We also discuss shear and breaking forces needed to go through the required material thickness. No stone is unturned during this discussion,” Frohlich states.

After the feasibility discussion, parts go from drawings to metal parts, with heat treat or coating. Once all of the parts come together, the die is made, put into the press, and tested.

Next, the first of the CMM measurements are taken and recorded.

Throughout this process simple tweaks of the die are done whenever needed, and the 3D design is easily updated with KeyCreator’s dimension edit or remove/move tools’ feature.

Like any company, Precise Tool & Die needs to keep costs down and KeyCreator helps them do just that by saving them time.

 “Our tool and die group prefers KeyCreator,” Frohlich says. “It is easy to open other versions of files and make changes to the parts, as needed. Also, the ease of making a die all in one assembly, without making it part-by-part and inserting each part into the assembly after the fact, is a huge time saver. Mating is not needed and there aren’t any clearance issues."

Frohlich has used Solidworks, NX, AutoCAD and others—but he prefers KeyCreator for several reasons.

“KeyCreator makes a difficult task simpler with its easy functions and layout. Changing a part is easy, you simply find it within the assembly, hide the rest of the design, and change what you need. You can see everything and how it all fits together. In a parametric modeler, each small change adds a new branch to the feature tree, which makes the model more and more complex. With KeyCreator I never worry about complexity, especially with a large assembly. I make the changes to the model and move on.”

“When you have the right CAD software it makes working with design geometry easy, and it saves you time. And we all know that time is money,” Frohlich adds. And that is precisely why Frohlich, and Precise Tool & Die, chooses KeyCreator. 

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