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What is Bridge Tooling and When is Best to Use It?

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There are three distinct classification types of tooling: prototype tooling, bridge tooling, and production tooling. Each fitted for different purpose. It’s essential to have the proper tooling for your project to ensure efficient and effective manufacturing and to avoid costly mistakes.

In this article, we’ll cover the less-known concept of bridge tooling, what it is, how it compares to production tooling, and when to use it.


What is bridge tooling?

Bridge tooling, used for mid-range and intermediate quantity production, goes by many names, including: pilot production, semi-production, development tooling and rapid tooling.


Machining bridge tooling for plastic injection moulding


As the name suggests, bridge tooling is a manufacturing solution that ‘bridges’ the gap between prototyping and final production. It delivers production-grade parts from production resins in a lower quantity than production tooling in a less costly and time consuming manner.


Bridge tooling vs production tooling

A good way to gain a better understanding of bridge tooling is by comparing it to production tooling and understanding the differences.


Material Used: Production tooling uses harder steels like H13 or P20 steels, priotizing longevity and geared towards mass production. In comparison, bridge tooling often employs aluminum or softer steels. Although the tool life is shorter, it is more a great choice for rapid prototyping or short production runs.

Speed: Production tooling typically requires longer lead times as hard steels take a longer time to machine and because the tool is built to withstand more runs. In comparison, bridge tooling can be machined faster, allowing for quicker turnaround time.

Cost: Bridge tooling tends to be more cost-effective upfront compared to production tooling. This is because bridge tooling is designed for shorter production runs or prototyping phases.

Flexibility: Bridge tooling can be modified or updated more easily to accommodate design iterations or refinements, offering greater flexibility and responsiveness to design changes compared to production tooling.


When to use bridge tooling?

Consider bridge tooling when your project have the following attributes or applications:


  • You need to test parts in the production intent material
  • The quantity of parts requires make prototyping uneconomic
  • A trial batch is required ahead of production release
  • The design is not sufficiently stable to allow production tooling
  • You only require several thousand of plastic parts


Prototype, bridge and production tooling with HLH Rapid

Looking to produce custom prototype, bridge or production tooling? Contact the HLH team to leverage decades of vast tooling and injection moulding expertise. Simply submit your CAD designs and project details via our Site Contact Form, and we will get back to you with a quote within 24 to 48 hours.

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