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A critical step in manufacturing is tooling. This step involves producing the tools that will help create the product, and it includes cutting equipment, molds, jigs, dies, other custom parts. Manufacturers have lots of options in completing this process, and they have to consider three factors when choosing the best option.

These three factors are cost, speed, and quality. Conventional tooling and rapid tolling are also differentiated in the same breath. Read this article as we explore the major differences between conventional tooling and rapid tooling.

Key Factors in Selecting the Tooling Method

Here are some of the basic criteria that product developers and engineers should look into when choosing a tooling method.

Design Stage. All product designs have room for improvement. The question is, how far would the designer go to reach what they are production-ready? The answer will help them understand if they need more time in prototyping, or they can start production.

The complexity of the product. The more complex the components a product has, the longer it will take them to prototype and complete the process before production.

Intended market. Another factor in choosing the tooling method is for whom the product is designed for. Each will have different tooling needs depending on its intended market.

Competition. When you have the intended customer, naturally, you will have potential competition in this same market. Although the idea is unique, it is not unusual to have other people with the same idea to solve a common problem. The first to get the product to the market will emerge as the winner.

Budget. The budget will determine the type of tooling you are going to use to work on a prototype. Most designers conserve their funds by going for low-cost tooling at the beginning.

Using these key points, product designers can narrow down their needs when choosing between conventional and rapid tooling.

Rapid tooling

Rapid tooling

The Difference Between Conventional Tooling and Rapid Tooling

Conventional tooling has a wider scope, and it all boils down to different manufacturing techniques used to create a product. The processes involve human interventions and are not automated. Rapid tooling, on the other hand, is connected to rapid prototyping and is used in creating product models and in troubleshooting existing issues. It is never used in high-volume production runs. Rapid tooling involves two types: direct and indirect.

Here are the differences between rapid tooling and conventional tooling based on three criteria.


As the name itself, rapid tooling is much faster than conventional tooling. It is particularly useful in time-sensitive small production runs, like in rapid prototyping. In this case, the demand for a quick process that allows multiple iterations of the same concept is solved by using rapid tooling.


Rapid tooling is more economical to use than conventional tooling because it requires less human work and time. Since it is done by computer programs and machines, it is not prone to human errors. It leads to further savings on labor and less wastage.


The downside of using rapid tooling is durability and lifespan. These types of the tooling also affect the longevity of the products it created. However, this is not all bad since there are products that are not needed to last for a long time. Therefore, there is no need to invest in its tooling.


Rapid tooling can help manufacturers produce products in a much shorter amount of time. It offers many advantages over conventional tooling. It can work as long as you have the right parameters to match the capability of the rapid tooling machine.