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Tool and Die...A dying trade



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Question:
I spent the 80's bouncing around the Detroit area Tool & Die and Mold shops learning from the masters who had trained in the Ford trade school, listening and learning from them. The Ford trade school was started by Henry Ford in the early part of the century. He sought out the best skilled labor from around the world to work in his plant and teach in his school. Ford stopped operating the school in the 50's because the school was turning out as many shop owners as employees for the company. These guys were part artist, part craftsman and pure genius when required. I'd like to pass on these gifts, just as they were passed on to me. It's just a shame no one wants them anymore. I've had several apprentices start training under me, none that finished or are still in the trade. They just didn't see any future in it, and I can hardly blame them.

I survived the globalization war..so far that is. Seems like a hollow victory at this point. I wish many of my compatriots were here to enjoy it with me.






Answer:
There is another way to look at it, though I doubt it will give you much comfort. In 1984 I had to have 3 tools made for a plastic computer keyboard. We quoted it out in the US and in Taiwan. Taiwan came in at twice the speed and half the cost. We went with Taiwan. There were virually no issues and we were able to use the first shots out of the mold for a big trade show.

So the job market in the US was dying 22 years ago. You at least stayed employed until now. I suspect the Taiwanese tool and die makers are suffering as well today, with all the work going to mainland China.

I think most people have seen big changes in their trade in the last 20-30 years. I too mourn the loss of skilled machinists and tool makers. At some point the country will feel the loss of these people.



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