Classic Tool & Die
In Oldcastle, Ontario, Classic Tool & Die has been a trusted name in the machining industry for 38 years. Founded by Ivo Oppio, who came to Canada from Italy in 1969, and now led by his sons, Adriano and Paul Oppio, Classic Tool & Die has steadily expanded its scope of services to include much more than traditional tool and die and metal stamping.
Today the company has six engineers on staff, as well as 10 CNC machinists and 10 specialized tool and die makers — the majority of employees have 10 to 20 years or more of experience. While the company’s bread and butter rests in automotive tool and die and metal stamping, Classic Tool & Die has expanded its market share, offering wire-cut electrical discharge machining (EDM), 3-D printing, 3-D laser scanning and more specialized services.
“We serve automotive customers, but also aerospace, nuclear, medical, architectural and petroleum clients — really any industry that needs a solution, we can develop a prototype and find an answer,” says Adriano Oppio, second-generation vice president of Classic Tool & Die. “We’re one of the most diversified tool and die shops in this industry.”
A history of innovation
After completing his apprenticeship in Italy, Ivo was employed at Valiant in Canada, a large manufacturing company, before starting his own tool and die shop in 1978. “When we started we only had three employees in a small 500-square-foot area,” recounts Adriano.
For the first few decades in operation, Classic Tool & Die concentrated on making its name known in the automotive business. Classic Tool & Die has made parts for BMW, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and many other leading names. Specializing in progressive, transfer and line dies, Classic Tool & Die utilizes CAD-CM precision machining with a variety of tryout presses to serve the local automotive industry in Canada and the U.S.
The company has grown by leaps and bounds since inception, now with more than 30 employees, several facilities and more than 30,000 square feet of manufacturing-testing areas. When Adriano came on board in the 1990s, he helped to diversify Classic Tool & Die, pushing the company to branch out into new applications and technologies, something that helped the business fare well through the down years of the recession.
“We’re constantly finding ways to adapt to the changing needs of our customers,” says Adriano. Some of these recent innovations include research and development, medical instruments, aerospace products, mining and even home appliance products.
“We were one of the first companies to attain a wire-cut EDM in southern Ontario and up until about six years ago, we employed the largest EDM in North America,” says Adriano. “We also purchased a 3-D laser scanner and we now have 3-D printing and scanning in-house; these are capabilities many of our competitors just don’t have.”
“We can now take any 3-D part using our portable laser scanning system and turn it into CAD geometry and then we can manipulate the surfaces and recreate the part using our 3-D printer and then afterward, cut the final rendition out of steel with our CNC machining,” explains Adriano.
Classic Tool & Die also has a massive stamping press — 1,500 tons to be exact. At full production the Danly stamping press can produce 212-inch die. “Most shops of our size do not have this capacity,” adds Adriano.
A prototype for any problem
In early 2016, Classic Tool & Die plans to install a scrap removal system on its Danly stamping press. “This is going to allow us to produce larger trial runs as our customers require larger initial builds or require assistance during ramp-up of production,” explains Adriano.
Classic Tool & Die’s 3-D scanning and printing technology allows the company to produce plastic prototypes as an inexpensive alternative for a range of customers looking for specific solutions. “If a customer requires a nonproduction component and they ask us to manufacture a prototype, we can do it out of plastic, whereas its normally very costly and time consuming to manufacture these parts out of steel,” says Adriano. “This has opened a lot of new doors for us.”
An example of this is Classic Tool & Die’s work with the Ford research and development program. “We’re wrapping up a project with Ford where we developed and manufactured a safety prototype component. It was initially made out of plastic and the fully moveable part was installed on a truck allowing Ford to review prior to us manufacturing the steel and aluminum production components,” says Adriano
With so many opportunities coming in, expansion is on Adriano’s mind, but he says it’s critical for Classic Tool & Die to maintain its level of responsiveness. “In order to cater to the specific requests we get, we sort of need to keep things small,” he says. “Sometimes with expansion comes loss of control. We can certainly expand but we have to do it in a way that allows us to maintain this flexibility.”
Classic Tool & Die recently hired three more employees and Adriano is looking to add to the highly-skilled team. “Our biggest challenge is finding the caliber of people we need to run this operation, luckily we have employees with years of tenure and they can pass their knowledge on,” he says.
With an expert in-house team, increased capabilities and leading technology, Classic Tool & Die continues to find solutions well beyond the traditional automotive tool and die and metal stamping arena.