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Friday, February 25, 2011

What I do for living

Some have asked what I do for living or what is my profession. At the very moment I'm still in college, but I'm getting my degree in tool & die making in 3 months. Tool & die maker is basically like a machinist, but it is more to do with jigs, fixtures, molds, dies and tools. And generally speaking tool & die work is not a job where you make a hundred of this and a million of that, but rather one of this and two of that.

I already concluded all my obligatory training and exams, so I'm basically waiting for the graduation event and using this time to be at a moldshop to earn some living money. In this same place (Työkalutyöt Mattila Oy) where I work I did my thesis work, which was a very basic permanent casting mold for aluminum. The photo on the right shows the mold installed in the casting machine. This PDF (17 MB) descripes the work with lots of pictures, but unfortunately it is only in Finnish at the moment. I'm planning on writing it in English once I learn what the different mold parts are called in English as I don't know them all.

I have had extensive training in school about plastic injection molds, but at the company I work we mainly do die casting molds. They work essentially the same but have much more work and things to consider as the mold fills up with liquid aluminum rather than liquid plastic.

I'm more specialised in assembling the mold, which means finishing all the pieces, fitting them together, assembling everything and making the small pieces that are missing with (usually) a manual lathe and a surface grinder. I also do mold polishing and fitting the whole mold after assembling it.

And when the need arises, I use the CNC mills with MasterCAM or straight from the Heidenhain controller panel to make parts. I mainly use 3-axis mills, but I have had some limited training on 3+2 axis work on a 5-axis machine.

We don't have a wire EDM, but I do know how to operate one as I have used Fanuc 0iA and 1iC machines. Sinker EDM experience is a little bit less than my wire EDM experience, I have only used an AGIE-Charmilles and repaired an old AGIE (older than me!). The one pictured on the right is the machine we had in school.

We also do not have a CNC lathe, but I have used one small machine at school (picture on the right) extensively, as I was the only one who knew how to operate it. Nobody had a clue of how to run it, so I did as I always do: RTFM. In the course of learning to use the machine I wrote a manual for the lathe in Finnish with lots of pictures. The lathe controller was Fanuc 0-TD, meaning very old and very basic.


  1. Very nice information on what you've accomlpished. Have you had any time to spend with you C-4? I jus ordered one, which will not be here until the first of May. Very excited!. Robin

  2. Hi and thank you for the reply! :)

    I have spent some time making this and that with the lathe, but I'm just taking pictures for an article of how to make a tap with a lathe and a mill. Hopefully I'll get the article out in a couple of weeks.

  3. Am happy that you can operate a cnc lathe and mill and you have written a manual for a fanuc control. It doesn't matter which control of fanuc because fanuc is available in vast variety and used in whole the world. I greatly appreciate your work. Helman

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