Original and non-original tools

press brake tools, bending tooling on demonstration shelf

Our new article on original and non-original tools for machine tools. We are a supplier of non-original tools for press brakes, tube bending machines, punching machines, etc. There is an important question to explain what customers could receive with the purchase of original tooling and what they can get with non-original as well. And it is not only about the market we are acting in or sheet metal machinery; it is about the complete machine tool market worldwide with any type of machinery.

What do you wait from original tooling?

Let us not speak about the quality first, but speak about the expectations. When the customer purchases the new machine, the original set of tooling from the manufacturer of the machine is recommended. Even if we are talking about the competition and even if the price is higher, the set of tooling from the machine manufacturer is the guarantee for the main tests for the purchased machine first of all. The new machine cannot arrive without the tools because it should be installed at the factory. So to test the functionality of the parts, the machine should be installed and tested. And because it is the complete responsibility of the machine manufacturer and supplier, it is better to receive everything in one hand.

The main point that we are talking about is “original” tooling. There are no questions or doubts that the tools will fit and be clamped directly to the tooling system of the machine, so there are no doubts for identification and verification with the customer of the sizes and dimensions. Also, original tools usually do not need additional programming or setup; they are usually incorporated into the machining software to be ready to run. There are a lot of cases in which the tools requested for us are not typical or old, and we do not know the exact dimensions, so we need to speak with the customer, check all dimensions, and moreover, be sure that they are measured correctly. From the manufacturer of the machine, you will not have these problems; they sell what should fit directly into their machine.

Original tooling

We believe we do not tell any secrets. But usually “original” tools are not manufactured directly by the machine tool producers. The reason is quite simple: it is a completely different production process, so usually it is made outside of the main company, under the order of the manufacturer and with his drawings and requirements. So we are coming to the question of whether the tooling factory that supplies the manufacturer of the machine tools as well as sells other or the same types of tooling outside for its customers or to the free market. And provides the same quality, the same material, and the same conditions. 

The conditions of the brand internally could be different. It could be the simple marking of tools that are made in another factory. Probably, it is the preparation of all complete drawings and tolerances, and the subsupplier factory will just make the order based on the requested conditions. It could be the complete production process partially controlled in the subsupplier factory and some exclusive cooperation with the manufacturer.

We know stories about various ways of cooperating. But anyway, original tooling means the tool that you will receive from the machine manufacturer, with his guarantee and responsibility.

What is the market of non-original tools

And as we told you before, it could be the same for mills, drills, bending tooling, punching tooling, forming tooling, stamps for stamping presses, and anything else. Moreover, a lot of tooling producers cooperate with manufacturers without disclosing their activities. The machine tool manufacturer uses one brand for the tooling he supplies with his machine, and the tooling producer, if possible, performs additional promotion for the machinery of the manufacturer.

Even non-original tooling could be different depending on the manufacturer, quality, and possibilities. To explain this more simply, we all have cars, and we can buy any parts directly from the official distributor or outside, in spare parts shops, or on the on the Internet. For sure, car models are different, so usually, parts traders check the model of the car by VIN or year of manufacturer, and normally, from the beginning, you know if it fits or not.

The same is true for tooling for machine tools. It is completely different for spare parts for machine tools because any valve or contactor has its own schematics, and replacement with an improper one could cause problems with the complete work of machine tools. The main tooling usually is the general type. For example, heads for cutting machines are DIN-type, so all worldwide manufacturers provide the same dimensions to be fit.

Clamping systems and differences

For our press brake tools also are different clamping systems that are used by press brake manufacturers. And as we told you before it could be not a 100% solution because for example there were a lot of old press brake machines made with unique types of clamps different than others. Even today could be special or unique configurations for various purposes. For example for high-tonnage machines where standard tooling will be not effective anymore because of the impossibility of using such strong forces.

We have a real case right now. The customer is looking for tools for the old machine in Holland. The photos and dimensions are nearly the same as the standard we know, but not the same. For the customer, it is a completely new task; he bought the used machine on the market and doesn’t know a lot. Moreover, the tooling is worn and not new, so any dimensions are not referenced. We made our recommendations and explained everything we could, but the customer should make the final decision, and he is not 100% sure. But if he goes directly to the press brake manufacturer, he can receive more guarantees for supply.

The type of tooling is very important. As a very simple example, there is a special type of bending tool called “AJIAL.” It was quite common for Spanish machines 20–30 years ago; it was still requested, and we supplied it several times. Moreover, for Spanish manufacturers of tooling, it is a standard type. But in Italy or in Germany, nobody knows and nobody supplies! It could be made as a special tool with a 6-7 week delivery time and a higher price. So even the geography matters!

Best price for perfect quality. Is it possible?

Now about the main part: quality and pricing. We do believe our tooling is cheaper and of good quality. We have a lot of customers who have used our tools for several years. Can somebody be sure that if he buys original tooling, the life of use could be the same or more? It is impossible to make the test under the same conditions and for several years. Even for big and famous companies, you will not receive any real and proofed information about the comparison of their tooling to other trademarks, both original and non-original and enough information for production tests. Because such a document could provide some responsibility, it is impossible to duplicate the conditions. 

What we usually tell our customers is that we offer Italian tools. Italy is the leader on the market for such products, and our tooling is nearly the same quality as any other Italian manufacturer. We know that Italy is also very strong for stamping press tooling; historically, this position was very strong in Italy. So if the whole world like it probably you will like our offer as well. And we are open to discussing all the details.

Original tools are better?

There is one psychological factor: a lot of people think that a higher price leads to better quality. Or, to make it simple, customer thinks: “If standard non-original tools will last for three years double price for original tools means the lasting for six years”. Could be a little bit right or wrong. To make it right, inside the price of the original tooling could be some special coatings to make the tooling more resistant to possible wear (in some typical conditions). But if the supplier of non-original tools can apply the same things and a little bit increases the price, probably it could also be very competitive. Also lower price could have some phycological doubt that the tooling has the good quality.

Wrong because if we speak about non-original tools as OEM (and in particular for press brakes), probably the customer could not know, but sometimes the original tool (offered by the press brake manufacturer) and the non-original tool could be done in the same factory, on the same machine, and in the same workshop. Only the logistic chain and way of sale after will be different! A lot of producers of various equipment offer the tooling from them under their trademark as “original tooling,”. But in fact, this tooling could be made somewhere else!

Anyway, for the customer, there is one single recommendation, no matter if it is an original or not-original tool. Find the supplier you like!
Even though we have sub suppliers with better prices than others, they always rush the delivery times and cause delays. Can you accept such a way of working? It depends on you, your needs, and your production.

Where your new tools will work?

The last story is about working conditions. Even high-quality tooling could be broken in a short time if the customer doesn’t respect the working conditions. Also servicing procedures, and ignore the limits and other recommendations. Any operator of the milling machine can tell you how the mill or drill was damaged. It could be a mistake in operator work or program—speed, penetration, material problems, etc. The same thing applies to any forming tool. So tooling management is highly important for any factory production and any tooling type.

We understand that any opinion could be incredibly subjective. And instead of tooling quality, the customers will be happy for other things. Like the good tool packing or an additional invitation to the exhibition. Or with one tool, he ignored the limits and broke them, but the other tool did not. And in these cases, there are a lot of them. So there is no absolute answer, no matter what tooling is better—original or non-original. We know anyway that the competition is fierce. So we are coming to the customer with our experience and professional answers. We are ready to tell them all and let him decide wisely.