Die Science: Why is it Dieology, not Dieologism?

It's not art, it's science

STAMPING Journal December 2007
December 11, 2007
By: Art Hedrick

Successful dieworkers are very methodical and data-driven in the way they approach a problem. They carefully study each problem, determine its root cause, and take both short- and long-term corrective action.

Note: Before I begin with the technical portion of Die Science, I would like to thank all of my loyal readersand wishyou a happy holiday season. I am looking forward tocontinuing this column in 2008. If you have anytopics that you would like to have covered, please contact me.

As a dieologist, I get really frustrated when I see articles and books published with titles like "The art of diemaking" or "The art of metal forming." Show me art being used to build or maintain a die and I will show you physics.

I could entitle this column "Die Art"; however, then the only thing I could write about is what color and style you could paint your dies so that their appearance would create emotion in others. In short, unless you paint the image of the "Mona Lisa" on your die shoes, dieworking is a science. It is not an art form.

As a consultant, I spend a great deal of time in stamping plants all over the world talking to tool and die maintenance and troubleshooting personnel. I also spend a great deal of time observing their various troubleshooting methods.

Some are very quick to react to a problem—shimming this, pounding on that, and grinding over there—without even knowing why the die failed in the first place. They may just be doing what worked the last time. Other individuals seek a quick fix and will do almost anything to reduce the amount of effort needed—cock shimming, beating on a doweled die section, lowering the ram, and so on and so forth.

Successful dieworkers are very methodical and data-driven in the way they approach a problem. They carefully study each problem, determine its root cause, and take both short- and long-term corrective action.

Are You a Dieologist?

Dieologist is a word that I coined simply to describe the ideal tooling professional. You will not find it in the dictionary. I define a dieologist as "an individual who studies the process of designing, building, and troubleshooting sheet metal cutting and forming dies." I define dieology as the scientific study of dies. (Now you know why I call this column "Die Science.")

Actions are a direct reflection of who you think you are. If you think the process of troubleshooting a die is a crude, mysterious art form requiring a great deal of trial and error, you may want to reconsider. If you are a tool and die professional, you're not altering a die to inspire emotion or to point out how tragic, beautiful, or distressed life can be, are you?

Please keep in mind that I am in no way suggesting that the process of designing, building, and troubleshooting a die does not require a great deal of creativity. It most certainly does. However, unlike art, every dieworking task that you perform—whether it is a simple grinding and shimming operation or a more difficult task such as troubleshooting a deep-drawing operation—revolves around the application of physics. A die is intended to perform a mechanical task.

A Dieologist …

  • Has a complete and comprehensive understanding of why things work and makes decisions based on it, not simply because an approach worked the last time.
  • Learns by collecting data. Makes a good hypothesis based on the data. Conducts experiments to test the theory and then implements corrective action. May use trial and error but with data to back up the decision to do so.
  • Learns why he or she was taught to do a certain thing. Understands the physics of why it is often necessary to do things in a given way.
  • Thinks of die processing, designing, and troubleshooting as physics. Views himself as a professional scientist.
  • Humbly and respectfully listens to the opinions of others and thanks them for their contributions. Analyzes the data and proceeds to ask more questions. Clearly understands that there is a great deal to learn.
  • Shares with others. Becomes a mentor to less experienced people.
  • Understands different metal types and their unique behavioral characteristics. Consults data to learn if the metal is acceptable for the process.
  • Can identify 10 opportunities for improvement instead of 10 problems. Looks at the resources available and makes a decision to do the best that can be done wth the available resources and time. The glass is half full. Is an optimist.
  • Takes full responsibility for his actions, and does not blame others. Simply goes about the task of continuous improvement.
  • Disagrees respectfully and provides data to support position.
  • Takes the time to help others ask questions instead of giving direct orders. Explains why it is necessary to perform a task in a certain way. Allows others to express their ideas. Makes all co-workers feel like team members, regardless of their levels of experience.
  • Is internally motivated. Feels a sense of accomplishment when helping others while getting a task done.

I was once asked this question: "Art,what is your main objective in traveling around the world and sharing your tool and die information? "I replied, of course, "That is how I make my living." However, I feel my profession has a much higher purpose. My ultimate goal is to be the catalyst for a major change in the tool and die industry.

For far too long the process of designing, building, and trouble-shooting a stamping die has been perceived and referred to as an art form. My goal is tohelp change this perception. Dieworking is a science that can be done only by consulting data that shows why things happen.Two of my colleagues, Dr. Stuart Keeler and Dr. Taylan Altan,for whom I have a great deal of respect, alsoauthor articles on metal forming. Never have I heard them refer to the tooling and metal forming industry as an art form. Knowing why changes occur is the key. That is the purpose of Die Science.

I need your help achieving this goal. If you are involved in tooling, view it and portray it as a science.

To this end, next year's column will focus on how to obtain data, the physics of dies, and how to read the signs of wear.

Be a dieologist! Thanks for a great 2007!

Art Hedrick

Art Hedrick

Contributing Writer
Dieology LLC
8730 10 Mile Rd. SE.
Rockford, MI 49341
Phone: 616-894-6855
Author of the "Die Science" column in STAMPING Journal®, Art also has written technical articles on stamping die design and build for a number of trade publications. A recipient of many training awards, he is active in metal stamping training and consulting worldwide.

Published In...



STAMPING Journal is the only industrial publication dedicated solely to serving the needs of the metal stamping market. In 1987 the American Metal Stamping Association broadened its horizons and renamed itself and its publication, known then as Metal Stamping.

Preview the Digital Edition

Subscribe to STAMPING Journal

Read more from this issue

Related Companies