Blog | Uelner Precision Tools and Dies

Keep following our blog as we continually update our blog with Tool and Die industry news, new technologies and focus on highlighting this industry.

Are you interested in a Job at Uelner or any other Tool and Die and Stamping company?

Here is some information that has been gathered to help you begin your journey to being a Tool and Die Maker.

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Top 3 machinist and tool and die maker Jobs

  • CNC Machinist toolmaker
  • Minimum Requirements. We offer a Competitive Benefit Package, Health, 401K, and Vacation. Evansville Courier & Press. Category: Manufacturing
  • Tool and Die Maker/Machinist
  • PRIMARY RESPONSIBILTIES: • Lays out, constructs, alters, fits, assembles and fixes various jigs, fixtures, dies, molds, templates, inspection
  • Tool & Die Maker
  • Must be able to modify tool designs according to trial or production

What Machinists and Tool and Die Makers Do

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

Duties of Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Machinists typically do the following:

  • Work from blueprints, sketches, or computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files
  • Set up, operate, and disassemble manual, automatic, and computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) machine tools
  • Align, secure, and adjust cutting tools and workpieces
  • Monitor the feed and speed of machines
  • Turn, mill, drill, shape, and grind machine parts to specifications
  • Measure, examine, and test completed products for defects
  • Smooth the surfaces of parts or products
  • Present finished workpieces to customers and make modifications if needed

Tool and die makers typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints, sketches, specifications, or CAD and CAM files for making tools and dies
  • Compute and verify dimensions, sizes, shapes, and tolerances of workpieces
  • Set up, operate, and disassemble conventional, manual, and CNC machine tools
  • File, grind, and adjust parts so that they fit together properly
  • Test completed tools and dies to ensure that they meet specifications
  • Smooth and polish the surfaces of tools and dies

Machinists use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders, to produce precision metal parts. Many machinists must be able to use both manual and CNC machinery. CNC machines control the cutting tool speed and do all necessary cuts to create a part. The machinist determines the cutting path, the speed of the cut, and the feed rate by programming instructions into the CNC machine.

Although workers may produce large quantities of one part, precision machinists often produce small batches or one-of-a-kind items. The parts that machinists make range from simple steel bolts to titanium bone screws for orthopedic implants. Hydraulic parts, antilock brakes, and automobile pistons are other widely known products that machinists make.

Some machinists repair or make new parts for existing machinery. After an industrial machinery mechanic discovers a broken part in a machine, a machinist remanufactures the part. The machinist refers to blueprints and performs the same machining operations that were used to create the original part in order to create the replacement.

Because the technology of machining is changing rapidly, workers must learn to operate a wide range of machines. Some newer manufacturing processes use lasers, water jets, and electrified wires to cut the workpiece. Although some of the computer controls are similar to those of other machine tools, machinists must understand the unique capabilities and features of different machines. As engineers create new types of machine tools, machinists must learn new machining properties and techniques.

Toolmakers craft precision tools that are used to cut, shape, and form metal and other materials. They also produce jigs and fixtures—devices that hold metal while it is bored, stamped, or drilled—and gauges and other measuring devices.

Die makers construct metal forms, called dies, that are used to shape metal in stamping and forging operations. They also make metal molds for die casting and for molding plastics, ceramics, and composite materials.

Many tool and die makers use CAD to develop products and parts. Designs are entered into computer programs that produce blueprints for the required tools and dies. Computer-numeric control programmers, found in the metal and plastic machine workers profile, convert CAD designs into CAM programs that contain instructions for a sequence of cutting tool operations. Once these programs are developed, CNC machines follow the set of instructions contained in the program to produce the part. Machinists normally operate CNC machines, but tool and die makers often are trained to both operate CNC machines and write CNC programs and thus may do either task.

Work Environment for Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Machinists and tool and die makers hold about 477,500 jobs. Machinists hold about 399,700 jobs. Tool and die makers hold about 77,800 jobs. The vast majority work in manufacturing, including machine shops, tool rooms, and factories.

The industries that employ the most machinists and tool and die makers are as follows:

Fabricated metal product manufacturing 31%
Machinery manufacturing 20
Transportation equipment manufacturing 14


How to Become a Machinist or Tool and Die Maker

Get the education you need: Find schools for Machinists and Tool and Die Makers near you!

There are many different ways to become a machinist or tool and die maker. Machinists train in apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, or community or technical colleges, or on the job. To become a fully trained tool and die maker takes several years of technical instruction and on-the-job training. Good math and problem-solving skills, in addition to familiarity with computer software, are important. A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary.

Machinist and Tool and Die Maker Education

Machinists and tool and die makers must have a high school diploma or equivalent. In high school, students should take math courses, especially trigonometry and geometry. They also should take courses in blueprint reading, metalworking, and drafting, if available.

Some advanced positions, such as those in the aircraft manufacturing industry, require the use of advanced applied calculus and physics. The increasing use of computer-controlled machinery requires machinists and tool and die makers to have experience using computers before entering a training program.

Some community colleges and technical schools have 2-year programs that train students to become machinists or tool and die makers. These programs usually teach design and blueprint reading, how to use a variety of welding and cutting tools, and the programming and function of computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines.

Machinist and Tool and Die Maker Training

There are multiple ways for workers to gain competency in the job as a tool or die maker. One common way is through long-term on-the-job training, which lasts 1 year or longer.

Apprenticeship programs, typically sponsored by a manufacturer, provide another way to become a machinist or tool and die maker, but they are often hard to get into. Apprentices usually have a high school diploma or equivalent, and most have taken algebra and trigonometry classes.

Apprenticeship programs often consist of paid shop training and related technical instruction lasting several years. The technical instruction typically is provided in cooperation with local community colleges and vocational–technical schools.

Apprentices usually work 40 hours per week and receive technical instruction during evenings. Trainees often begin as machine operators and gradually take on more difficult assignments. Machinists and tool and die makers must be experienced in using computers to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines. Some machinists become tool and die makers.

A number of machinists and tool and die makers receive their technical training from community and technical colleges. Employees may learn this way while being employed by a manufacturer that supports the employee’s training goals and provides needed on-the-job training as well.

Even after completing a formal training program, tool and die makers still need years of experience to become highly skilled.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

To boost the skill level of machinists and tool and die makers and to create a more uniform standard of competency, a number of training facilities and colleges offer certification programs. The Skills Certification System, for example, is an industry-driven program that aims to align education pathways with career pathways. In addition, journey-level certification is available from state apprenticeship boards after completing an apprenticeship.

Completing a recognized certification program provides machinists and tool and die makers with better job opportunities and helps employers judge the abilities of new hires.

Important Qualities for Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Analytical skills. Machinists and tool and die makers must understand highly technical blueprints, models, and specifications so that they can craft precision tools and metal parts.

Manual dexterity. The work of machinists and tool and die makers must be highly accurate. For example, machining parts may demand accuracy to within .0001 of an inch, a level of accuracy that requires workers’ concentration and dexterity.

Math skills and computer application experience. Workers must have good math skills and be experienced using computers to work with CAD/CAM technology, CNC machine tools, and computerized measuring machines.

Mechanical skills. Machinists and tool and die makers must operate milling machines, lathes, grinders, laser and water cutting machines, wire electrical discharge machines, and other machine tools. They may also use a variety of hand tools and power tools.

Physical stamina. The ability to endure extended periods of standing and performing repetitive movements is important for machinists and tool and die makers.

Technical skills. Machinists and tool and die makers must understand computerized measuring machines and metalworking processes, such as stock removal, chip control, and heat treating and plating.

Machinist and Tool and Die Maker Salaries

The median annual wage for machinists is $40,550. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,230, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,290.

The median annual wage for tool and die makers is $50,290. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,010, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,530.

The pay of apprentices is tied to their skill level. As they gain more skills and reach specific levels of performance and experience, their pay increases.

Although many machinists and tool and die makers work full time during regular business hours, some work on evenings and weekends because facilities may operate around the clock. Overtime is also common.

Job Outlook for Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Overall employment of machinists and tool and die makers is projected to grow 6 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty.

Employment of machinists is projected to grow 10 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Despite improvements in technologies, such as computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, autoloaders, high-speed machining, and lights-out manufacturing, machinists will still be required to set up, monitor, and maintain these automated systems.

In addition, employers will continue to need machinists, who have a wide range of skills and are capable of using modern production techniques in a machine shop. As manufacturers invest in new equipment, modify production techniques, and implement product design changes more rapidly, they will continue to rely heavily on experienced machinists.

Employment of tool and die makers is projected to decline 13 percent over the next ten years. Foreign competition in manufacturing and advances in automation, including CNC machine tools and computer-aided design (CAD), should reduce employment of tool and die makers.

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers Job Prospects

Job opportunities for machinists and tool and die makers should be very good, as employers continue to value the wide-ranging skills of these workers. Also, many young people with the education and skills needed to become machinists and tool and die makers prefer to attend college or may not wish to enter production occupations. Therefore, the number of workers learning to be machinists and tool and die makers is expected to be smaller than the number of job openings arising each year from the need to replace experienced machinists who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons.

Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Machinists and tool and die makers 477,500 506,600 6 29,100
Machinists 399,700 438,900 10 39,200
Tool and die makers 77,800 67,700 -13 -10,100


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor and


As members of the PMA we are constantly keeping ourselves up to date with the industry and with industry news. At times, we are going to be sharing the news that they provide.

If we can keep you up to date with industry news, it makes you a more informed customer.

This month, we want to show some credit where credit is due. Here are some leaders in the industry that received Awards of Excellence this year at FABTECH 17.


The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) has announced the winners of its 2017 Awards of Excellence in Metalforming. Presented annually, the awards recognize the high standards of achievement set by the metalforming industry in the areas of design, safety, quality, innovation and technology, training and education, process control, product development, and productivity.

Winners were honored with a special plaque, commemorative flag and a cash prize on November 5, 2017, during the FABTECH tradeshow in Chicago, IL, and will be featured in the December 2017 issue of MetalForming magazine.

PMA applauds the achievements of the 2017 winners, who have dedicated themselves to continuous improvement of their products and services. Read about their award-winning achievements:


The above content is courtesy of PMA.ORG


We love to brag about our employees and those that make our company successful. So in the future, you will be introduced to all of our staff here at Uelner Precision Tools & Dies. This month, since our new website is going strong, we would like to introduce you to the president of Uelner Precision Tools & Dies

Tom Uelner

Tom has lived and breathed Tool and Die ever since he was a teenager. He earned his journeyman’s card while attending college and then graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he graduated with his business degree. He has been active full time ever since, becoming the owner and president of UTD in 1982. Tom’s wealth of knowledge in the Tool and Die and metal stamping industry has grown to over 45 years strong. Although it doesn’t stop at just tooling and metal stamping, his expertise branches out into fabricating, engineering and machining as well. In his spare time, he enjoys rebuilding exotic cars, motorcycles, and even a gas turbine. When he’s not working on one of his many projects, he loves spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. Tom is also a very active member of his church along with his wife Jayne Uelner.

Keep following this blog to learn more about the Tool and Die / Stamping industry, our employees and what is coming up.

Next month, learn more about Brad Kueter.

Tis the season for holiday wishes.

Uelner Precision Tools & Dies would like to wish our customers, vendors, suppliers in the metal forming and fabrication industry and our employees as well as our community of Dubuque, Iowa,

Best Wishes for the Holiday Season

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


At Uelner Precision Tools & Dies, we not only have a close connection with our customers to make sure that everything goes smoothly with our interactions and projects, we also carry a high level of importance on our relationships with our vendors.

In the coming blogs, you will see a regular Vendor Spotlight to let you see just how much importance we put on these relationships.

For our very first Vendor Spotlight, we have chosen AP&T Presses.

Working with any vendor or supplier means that we have to build a relationship with them over time, and as of course, you know, a purchase of any press or tool to use in our industry is a major decision.

AP&T presses are one of the top quality press manufactures in the world with years of research and development behind it with their partnership in the Automotive and Climate / Energy industries. AP&T has been producing some of the finest and most reliable presses and automation solutions for over 50 years.

The presses and automation systems created by AP&T are developed with specific industries in mind. The automotive industry alone has some of the tightest regulations and a need for lighter weight materials that are stronger than those of older, heavier materials. By creating new technologies and solutions needed for this industry opens them up to be able to spread that technology throughout the metal forming world.

At Uelner, we are currently using the AP&T 450 ton for severe deep draw applications in the heavy off-road emissions market, along with developing deep draw processes for 8mm high strength aluminum for over the road trucks.

Working with AP&T has been great. Our interactions include everything from the purchase, shipment, installation and even working to develop new ways of using the press controls to customize its functions to meet our needs. Even though they are a Swedish company, they are a global presence with offices all over the world to keep a local supply and sales force for easy access to sales, support, and service

If you are in the United States, make sure that you contact Stefan Knudsen, over at AP&T USA / 704-904-6284 /

ABOUT AP&T [Sweden]

AP&T has been developing high-quality production solutions for the sheet metal forming industry for over 50 years. Today they are a global player that focuses on sustainable solutions for customers that are primarily active in the automotive, climate & energy and roof drainage industries. Their headquarters, development activities and the majority of their production are located in Sweden. Complete solutions for sheet metal forming AP&T offers complete production systems, automation, presses, tooling and aftermarket services for manufacturers of formed metal parts.


Yes, we are very old fashion. At Uelner, we believe in many old fashion values, like hard work, great customer service and an old fashioned handshake. And as times are changing and methods are changing all over the world, we have decided to embrace some of those changes also. Not by losing our values, but by growing with the world and the industry. Since 2006 we have had the same website built on the same technology, our reputation precedes us in the industry but with the ever changing landscape of the internet, digital technology, social media and the shrinking size of the world, we are going with this new flow.

So here is our New Website

Now this isn’t going to be just an online brochure of our services and products, this will be the new place for the entire tool and die industry to follow as we update it regularly with our blog of news and information on updating technology within our industry. We are going to provide up to date information for our customers to follow as well to educate them on processes, materials and methods to streamline their manufacturing needs as well as give them an idea as to how to proceed whether we can handle their needs or if there is someone else that can help them with a solution.

Keep an eye out for new blogs, videos and more. Follow us on Facebook also at for fast and regular updates. You can also find us on @UelnerT

Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter as well as the rss feed from our blog to keep yourself up to date with information from our in house industry leaders.


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