Using modern numerically controlled fabrication methods, a single punch tool can be used to punch holes in more than one product design and it is also possible to punch complex shapes by using a combination of tools which are available from a turret. Therefore, numerically controlled methods have the potential to overcome many of the tool inflexibility drawbacks of traditional methods, thereby significantly increasing overall flexibility in production and design. Since reducing or eliminating set-ups is a primary advantage of numerically controlled methods, implementing them in an inefficient fashion, that requires unnecessarily frequent set-ups, is obviously an ineffective strategy. Thus, selecting appropriate tooling in numerically controlled manufacture is an important economic issue.
In the present work, the approach has been to develop a generic algorithm to select the best set of tools for producing any given sheet metal part, based upon searching a huge explosive decision tree which, in a practical sense is impossible to solve analytically. This paper will show how the well known Monte Carlo simulation technique can be used in the decision tree search and hence in the process of selecting appropriate tooling.