Thomas Vacca Thomas Vacca
Director of Engineering

Q: Many Years Back You Published the "Ten Tooling Laws," Can You Reprint Them?

February 26, 2024

Editor’s Note: Former STAMPING Journal readers will recognize Tom Vacca, director of tooling design and engineering at Micro Corp., as the author of the Ask the Expert column. Happily, Vacca has agreed to continue answering your perplexing tool and die and stamping questions in MetalForming. Send your questions to

Thomas Vacca's 10 Tooling Laws

  1. Have no other goal except your personal best
  2. Achieve perfect execution
  3. Quality workmanship is defined as consistency.
  4. Strive for perfection down to the last detail.
  5. If nothing changes, then nothing will change.
  6. Never make changes without evidence.
  7. Do not bear false witness to bad results.
  8. If it needs to be done, it must be on the print.
  9. Nothing is the only thing that is insignificant.
  10. Grow and improve in steps.

As a result of trying to solve difficult stamping issues, we sometimes shoot from the hip. The 10 Tooling Laws were drafted out of necessity to address many performance issues that stemmed from a relatively small list of fundamental misconceptions. These laws sometimes seem obvious to some, but not so obvious to others. Follow them and success will follow!  

1. Have no other goal except your personal best. Your work is a reflection of you. Do not cut corners. Inadequate work will cause you to touch it twice. If you have to touch it twice, ask yourself what you could have done differently the first time. 

2. Achieve perfect execution. It is either perfect or it’s not. Never approach a job with the trial-and-error method. In everything you do, take it to the next level. Ask yourself what can go wrong. Plan and take action for any foreseen risks to achieve first-hit success every time. Do not wait for bad results to drive your process.  

3. Quality workmanship is defined as consistency. Be consistent in your methods every time. A measure of quality is in the consistency of the results. Inconsistent methods lead to inconsistent targets. First get the process consistent. Do it the same way every time. Then you can adjust the target to hit the bullseye.

4. Strive for perfection down to the last detail. Input equals output. Identify variables in all of your tasks. Create a documented process that controls all of the variables and follow it every time. Be disciplined and as you identify new variables, update the process document. It should be a living document. 

5. If nothing changes, nothing will change. This may be obvious, but sometimes we forget that if the inputs don’t change, the output won’t either—for better or worse.

6. Never make changes without evidence. There always must be a reason to change something. For every issue that arises, ask yourself “what has changed since …?” Trace your steps. Brainstorm to eliminate the obvious. Try to find the root cause of a problem, but if you can’t, resist the pressure to make unsubstantiated changes.

7. Do not bear false witness to bad results. Never justify what and why something was done that did not yield the expected results. If you used poor judgment or simply made a mistake, learn from it and move on.  The worst thing is to try to justify failures.

8. If it needs to be done, it must be recorded on the print. Put the service-life dimensions on all punch and die inserts. Spell out all heels, sweep-grind minimums, surface-finish requirements, and finish techniques and procedures. Everything must be on the print to define precise consistency. Leave nothing to the imagination. Vice versa: If it’s on the print, it must be done!  

9. Nothing is the ONLY thing that is insignificant. You must identify problems in order to address them. Saying that something doesn’t matter will stifle your efforts. Everything is significant, right down to the dowels, screws and springs.

10. Grow and improve in steps. Every process, every task should incorporate continuous improvement. Seek change. That is an absolute necessity. If you do not innovate, the competition will pass you by. Even one second saved per min. yields 24-min./day, 2 hr./week, 100 hr./yr. Take steps closer to perfection one at a time. Take no steps and you go nowhere.

Good luck and happy stamping! MF

Industry-Related Terms: Die
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: MICRO

Technologies: Tooling


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