How tool making has evolved into a precise science

Matt SomersStarred Page By Matt Somers, 7th Jan 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Supply Chains, Procurement & Logistics

Over the centuries tool making has evolved into a high precision craft. Sophisticated machine tools are driven by computers. Repeatable results reflect the pin point accuracy of nanotechnology.

A great technological leap

What is extraordinary is the great leap in technology that took place only 300 years ago. Right up until the Industrial Revolution tools were rudimentary at best. Most were hand crafted out of wood or stone and there was none of the precision and repeatability that defines contemporary tooling and machine design.
Tool making is in its purest form took place hundreds of thousands of years ago. Early hominids fashioned basic tools from wood and stone to slice, cut and grind food. According to archaeologists, it was our ability to create tools that powered our unlikely climb to the top of the food chain.

Increased mechanisation

The spark that ignited the remarkable progression of tool making to an advanced science was the increase in mechanisation driven by the Industrial Revolution. Complex cylinders, gears and components were produced from metal to fashion tools that were tough and durable. A major drawback however was the reliance on hand operation that led to slow tedious processes that were inconsistent and imprecise.

Interchangeable parts

A hundred years on and lathes, milling machines and metal planers were already in use. By the mid-1800s parts were completely interchangeable. Our insatiable appetite for weapons was yet another major catalyst in the development of tools and tool making. More and more complex machinery and tools were developed during World War I to generate accurate firearms and heavy artillery.

Automatically controlled machines

Yet another major development was the introduction of automatically controlled machines. Prior to the Second World War machinists used a complex arrangement of flywheels gears and levers to achieve the task at hand.

By the end of the war, numerical control machines were developed. A series of numbers or codes were punched onto cards which were interpreted by the machines to carry out a defined processing or production task.

CNC machines

The advent of the personal computer ramped up tool making and production to all new heights. For the first time in history, machines could be managed efficiently without human input. Sequences could be repeated over and over again to create complex work pieces that were accurate and precise.

In our fast paced contemporary world, tool making is an exact science. It involves highly skilled craftspeople who employ art, technology, mathematics, applied science and industrial engineering to create functional tools.


Computer aided design and computer aided manufacture are now the norm. New technologies including laser and nanotechnology are consistently improving output and results. Parts and components are produced with absolute accuracy. New generation machines have the capacity to change tools automatically, creating machines that are incomparably fast efficient and versatile!


Industrial Engineering, Machine Design, Tool Making

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author avatar Matt Somers
I love reading and writing about different topics. I'm interested in anything to do with art, history, travel and sports.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
8th Jan 2013 (#)

Well written evolutionary matter of science and technology.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
9th Jan 2013 (#)

The improvements are happening by leaps and bounds - what is down the line in a decade is hard to predict. Thanks for a nice write-up - siva

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