Tool & Die Apprentice
Tool and die makers analyze specifications, lay out metal stock, set up and operate machine tools, and fit and assemble parts to make and repair dies, cutting tools, jigs, fixtures (devices that hold metal while it is shaped, stamped or drilled), gauges and machinist’s hand tools. Die makers construct metal forms (dies) to shape metal in stamping and forging operations.
Tool and die makers usually work in tool rooms. These areas are quieter than the production floor because there are fewer machines in use at one time. They wear protective equipment, such as safety glasses to shield against bits of flying metal and earplugs to protect against noise. They spend much of the day on their feet and may do moderately heavy lifting.
- 5-year training program
- 10,400 hours of on-the-job training
- 576 hours of paid related instruction
- Possible additional hours of unpaid related instruction
Classwork training usually consists of mathematics, mechanical drawing, tool designing, tool programming and blueprint reading.
Learn more from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
Tool & Die Apprenticeship classes may be offered at these Madison College campuses:
- Madison - Commercial Avenue
- Madison - Truax
Explore financial aid eligibility for Tool & Die Apprentice.
All courses for this program are offered only in person.
How to Apply for a Tool and Die Apprenticeship
Tool and die apprenticeship applicants must find an apprenticeship with a sponsoring employer on his or her own (similar to looking for a job). Once the applicant has found a position, the employer starts the apprenticeship registration process by contacting a Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) Representative for their county.
- Entry requirements vary by employers
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Physically able to perform trade
- Applicants apply directly to participating employers
All apprenticeships require an employer sponsor. After passing the application process, you will be responsible for finding an employer to sponsor you as an apprentice before you may begin the program.
Prospective program students, the information below reflects the basic requirements for students admitted for the 2020-2021 academic year. To learn more about Madison College, visit us.
Current program students (including newly admitted), go directly to your Degree Progress Report (also referred to as an Advising Report or Academic Requirements) to view:
- Progress toward your specific requirements
- Alternative (in lieu of) courses to meet specific requirements
If you have questions after reviewing your report, please see Advising Services.
Madison College Tool and Die Apprenticeship graduates are prepared to:
- Read Blueprints – Understand and interpret the types of lines used on shop drawings and part prints, apply tolerances and symbols, identify threads, tapers, and machined surfaces, and develop good sketching techniques.
- Perform Bench Work – Identify mechanical hardware and hand tools, precision measuring instruments, part layout, threading with taps and dies, files, and hand and power saws, and practice general shop safety.
- Work Engine Lathes – Basic lathe construction, single-point tool geometry, high-speed and carbide tool applications, and lathe operations including, turning, facing, grooving, boring, drilling, reaming, threading, taper turning, knurling, cut-off and safety.
- Work Tool-Room Milling Machines – Vertical mill construction and operation, end milling, side milling, key ways, boring and counter-boring, drilling and reaming, and follow safety procedures.
- Operate Surface and Cylindrical Grinders – Basic construction and operation, wheel selection, work-holding methods and grinder safety.
- Understand Metallurgy – Properties and applications of both ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
- Understand Mathematics – Fractions, decimals, ratio and proportion, cutting speeds and feeds, basic algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
- Understand Jig and Fixture Design – Describe the basic functions of jigs and fixtures, explain the difference between locators and supports and select appropriate clamping mechanisms.
- Knowledge of Computer Assisted Manufacturing (CAM) – Utilize CAM programs such as Feature-Cam to produce tool-paths for Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) lathes and milling machines.
- Knowledge of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) – Set up and operate CNC lathes and milling machines using Computer Assisted Manufacturing tool-paths.
- Knowledge of Electrical Discharge Machines (EDM) – Describe the principles of EDM operation, compare electrode materials, discuss electrode machining methods, determine flushing requirements, and relate spark frequency to surface finish and metal removal rates.
- Understand Mold Making and Die-Cast Dies – Compare the properties of Thermoplastic and Thermoset plastics, explain the purpose of the various systems of plastic injection molding machines, explain the function of various mold components, select the appropriate metals for cavities, cores and mold bases, describe the different machining operations that may be used to produce mold cavities, cores and bases, calculate runner, gate and venting requirements, and demonstrate mold-polishing techniques.
- Understand Basic Die Making (Metal Stamping Dies) – Identify basic die components, explain the differences between blanking and piercing dies, calculate cutting and stripping forces, determine burr-side location, calculate bend allowances, develop stock strip layouts, calculate scrap-web allowances, explain the use of pilots, compare fixed and traveling strippers, calculate die spring requirements, and select appropriate steels for punches and dies.