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Understanding Primary and Secondary Operations With Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

October 19th, 2017 · No Comments

Every operation involved in producing a high-quality precision stamped part is key to a comprehensive process. Despite this, there are some stages that are considered more significant to the finishing of a part over others. This consideration places some of the stages involved in the metal stamping process into the primary operations category, while others are placed in the secondary operations category. This distinction may separate the operations involved in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, but at Thomas Engineering Company (TEC) we maintain an emphasis on the value of all operations.

Starting with a metal blank, TEC cuts, shapes, and alters the material into a fully finished part with primary and secondary production operations.

Primary Operations

  1. Prototyping: Before we can begin some fabrication operations, our engineers work with the client to produce a part prototype. Our rapid prototyping abilities provide quick approaches to begin work on high precision micro-miniature, miniature, medium-sized, and ultra-thin stamped parts.
  2. Stamping: The most significant delineation of operations is between precision metal stamping stages and all others. With progressive stamping, and single stage stamping machinery, TEC engineers and technicians can quickly perform cutting, bending, slotting, lancing, trimming, and other stamping operations to fabricate an unfinished part form.

When our rapid prototyping and metal stamping stages are complete, TEC can move on to providing our comprehensive value-added services. These secondary operations serve to fully finish a part and ready it for seamless integration into your product or systems.

Secondary Operations

  1. Welding: Our welding operations piece together any additional sections that may be needed on a part. This includes general spot welding and in-die spot welding.
  2. Tapping: Tapping operations form threads on female parts, finishing them for final use. TEC offers off-line tapping as well as in-die tapping processes.
  3. Staking: TEC also provides off-line and in-die staking operations for full part assembly.
  4. Heat Treating: Our enhancement of metal properties with heat treating can be an important secondary operation to bring a material to its full potential in a part.
  5. Plating & Finishing: Depending on the use of a part, plating and finishing operations can be necessary for effective part use. For example, parts that need heat or electricity conductive surfaces benefit greatly from this secondary operation.
  6. Deburring: During the stamping process and with some other secondary operations, burrs, slivers, and crumbs of material can build up on a part. Our deburring process removes these unwanted bits for a full finish.
  7. Riveting: This secondary operation is important for permanent connections between or within a part structure.
  8. Sub Assembly: Parts that require smaller attachments or other sections for a full finish will be completed during the subassembly stage.
  9. Packaging: General and specialty packaging (i.e., Tape & Reel Packaging) provided at TEC ensure a safe delivery of a finished order.

To learn more about our primary and secondary production operations, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 for more information about metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

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Elements of Just-In-Time Delivery Generating Excellence in Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

October 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

Often referred to as “lean manufacturing” or “demand manufacturing,” just-in-time (JIT) production is a method of designing, fabricating, and shipping a part order with optimal waste elimination and efficiency. At Thomas Engineering Company, we specialize in providing high quality precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, with an emphasis on excellence in design alongside just-in-time production and delivery.

The benefits of JIT manufacturing are numerous for our clients operating in the fast-pace production industries of today’s rapidly advancing technological world. With our rapid prototyping abilities and the use of state-of-the-art CAD/CAM software, the system of JIT manufacturing makes perfect sense for our precision metal stamping production.

The TEC system of JIT manufacturing is based on the two pillars of design engineering and production engineering. In other words, our system of fast-paced, high-quality production and delivery is founded on the abilities of our design teams and creation teams. Because our engineers work together throughout both stages of the manufacturing process, the fabrication of parts with any design flaws or production issues is easily avoided.

Our practice of JIT manufacturing contains several elements that make up the systematized backbone of our precision metal stamping production:

  1. Design is the initial stage of our JIT system. This includes the realization of an idea into a viable part design. Our rapid prototyping services and design engineers play a vital role in completing comprehensive part designs exacted to our customer’s specifications yet maintaining a goal of producing as little waste as possible.
  2. Materials are an important part of our JIT system of production. Lacking the right materials at hand would throw a wrench in our system of JIT manufacturing, so to speak. From stainless steel to copper alloys and beyond, the highest quality materials our customers need for their parts are immediately available at TEC.
  3. Stamping and overall machining operations complete the majority of the production engineering stage of our JIT system. Our BRUDERER® presses and in-house tooling equipment are state of the art, featuring high-speed stamping, close tolerance precision stamping, thin slotting, and more.
  4. Additional offline operations include our comprehensive value-added services and offline tooling, tapping, and other services when needed. These added operations complete a part to its fullest in the JIT process, eliminating the need to work through multiple production providers.
  5. Packaging and shipping are the final elements of the TEC system for JIT manufacturin2g. With our abilities in unique part packaging and just-in-time delivery system, our customers can expect parts designed, fabricated, finished, packed, and shipped in as few as 5 to 10 business days.

The need for a high-quality JIT manufacturing system is key in today’s industry. At TEC, we strive to improve our system continually, and we work to offer optimized efficiency to our customers each day. For more information about our JIT system and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company today at (763) 533-1501.hjlk

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The Role of Deburring During Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

September 13th, 2017 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we specialize in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, but to meet our end goal of production excellence, there are many other steps to the process outside of a high-quality stamped part. When it comes to producing a part with the necessary level of completion for customer approval, offline assembly, additional tooling, and our value-added services are critical aspects of the process. Every part of production has its role in our precision metal stamping services, no matter the complexity or time consumption. For example, the deburring stage for stamped and tooled parts is critical in many ways for the production of a truly high-quality part.

Deburring is one of our value-added services here at TEC, and it’s a key stage in our finishing process for metal stamped parts. As simplistic as it may seem in comparison with complex rapid prototyping and precision metal stamping, the deburring process is necessary for the completion of a part. Without the deburring process, parts can encounter several problems during industrial use, in application or assemblies where wear and edge conditions are critical.

The longevity of any stamped part depends almost exclusively on the quality of production. Even without the deburring process, that part’s longevity can be significantly decreased when burrs increase wear and catch on surrounding materials during part use. This increase in wear limits part lubrication and can even slow production rates in many situations. Not only do burrs negatively affect the life of the part itself, but they can also affect parts around them as they come into contact or simply slow the production process artificially.

In some instances, burrs can even tear into parts and create cracks in the part to which they are attached. Burrs should be considered unwanted parasites damaging what could be a quality part if the removal of those burrs hadn’t been neglected.

Possible failures caused by the neglect of the simple process of deburring can be catastrophic and dangerous in some applications. Fortunately, they’re also easily avoided with the right attention to removing burrs after stamping and tooling are completed. For more information about our other value-added services and our excellence in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Heat Treatment Used in Tandem with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

September 7th, 2017 · No Comments

For the production of high quality precision-stamped parts, the use of high quality materials is needed. Although many metals and metal alloys have adequate strength, hardness, workability, and ductility without the need for further treatments, there are many metals that benefit from the added processes of heat treating. At Thomas Engineering Company, our value-added services include several types of heat treatments for metals that need an increase in a certain property to fit the function of a part made with our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

While many of the materials for our precision-based parts exceed expectations in levels of metal properties, TEC recognizes the need for heat treatment for the production of certain parts. The options for heat treatment available to our customers include:

  • Tempering

TEC’s value-added services offer general tempering for any iron alloys, including most steels. This process removes excessive hardness from steels after production, making those metals more flexible and tough. Steels treated at higher temperature will have lower hardness and greater flexibility, whereas steel tools like punching dies are treated at lower temperatures to preserve hardness while eliminating brittleness

  • Austempering

Austempering is a variation of tempering used to lower risks of distortion in the metal during the production and use of a part made from that material. The process creates various stabilized ferrite structures in high-ferrous metals and is thus named for the austenite structures it produces in cast iron

  • Annealing

This heat treatment process can be used for several types of metals and metal alloys, including steel, copper, brass, and silver. Annealing heats metals above recrystallization and allows diffusion of atoms into a more homogenous structure. The process improves ductility and makes materials more workable by reducing hardness

  • Stress Relieving

In production, most metals are heated and cooled quickly and may not solidify in uniform structures. This provides several chances for stress pockets within the metal. In high-force production like precision metal stamping where a level of extreme accuracy is needed, stress relieving heat treatment is often key. The process reintroduces metals to softening temperatures at uniform heat points and temperature increases. The metal is then cooled in the same, uniform process, eliminating any stress pockets

Along with heat treatment options, TEC’s value-added services provide any extra attentions to detail necessary to offer our customers an experience of excellence in metal stamping production. For more information about precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Effects of Cutting on Metal Blanks With Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

August 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

Of the many types of metal stamping operations, cutting is one of the most important functions on the stamping floor. No part can pass through its beginning, middle, or final stages of production without meeting some form of cutting on the way. There are several types of cutting operations used in metal stamping, and with each process, the correct equipment, materials, and engineering intelligence are needed. Thomas Engineering Company provides precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, using the cutting operations necessary to produce high quality, high-integrity metal parts.

Although cutting operations are vital for metal stamping production, they’re also high stress forming methods that place large amounts of force on a subjected metal blank. At TEC we understand the importance of choosing the correct cutting operation for the material used to prevent any complications in production.

Types of Cutting

  • Blanking: A primary cutting operation, blanking works to cut usable metal sections from a large sheet.
  • Shearing: This is the most standard cutting process in metal stamping. This process serves to cut basic forms from a metal blank.
  • Piercing: This cutting operation punctures holes and closed off sections from a blank.
  • Notching: Like piercing, notching cuts away small sections of a blank but cuts trim away pieces of the metal around the blank’s edges.
  • Perforating: This operation works to pierce a metal blank, creating several punctures simultaneously.
  • Lancing: This operation merges shearing and bending of the metal blank into a single operation.

What Happens to Metal When Cut?

While these operations are referred to as “cutting” they more closely resemble an extrusion process. Observing a cutting process with the naked eye will simply look like an immediate breaking apart or slicing of metal pieces. However, if the process is slowed down and examined more closely, the metals will appear to be pushed apart until the break point. The cutting process begins with the cutting punch striking the metal blank with a shock force that stresses the material to stretch apart until shear strength—the highest force a metal can withstand before break—is met. The area of fracture along the path of the cutting shear will not be a cut edge like that made with a saw blade, but will instead be angled with a fractured edge.

The severe stress applied to metal blanks during any given cutting operation can cause some complications if the correct system is not utilized. At Thomas Engineering Company, cutting is an everyday operation during metal stamping parts production. Our engineers have mastered the prevention of all potential complications during cutting.

Of the many operations used at TEC, cutting is just one that adds to our excellence in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN. For more information about our services, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Thermal Conductivity and Electronic Components Made with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

August 16th, 2017 · No Comments

Even the highest quality of design and engineering would be useless if the right materials aren’t utilized for a given part. Metallurgy has long been a vital tool in helping industrial manufacturers determine which metals fit the function and type of a part. At Thomas Engineering Company, our years of experience in parts engineering, tool design, and production with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, has given us the agency we need to provide expert suggestions when it comes to part materials.

One market for which we specialize in providing parts is the electronics industry. Manufacturing electronic components and electronic connectors requires a large knowledge base of when and how to use materials with high and low thermal or electrical conductivity.

High Conductivity

For materials that must transmit electrical current in parts designed for the electronics industry, a high electrical conductivity is optimal. In most cases, metals like copper and aluminum have a high thermal conductivity that goes hand-in-hand with a high electrical conductivity. Though it’s a rule that most metals with high thermal conductivity will have a high electrical conductivity, there are exceptions. For example, tungsten has a high thermal conductivity yet a low electrical conductivity. Similarly, platinum has a higher thermal conductivity than nickel, but nickel has a higher electrical conductivity than platinum.

Metals with middling electrical conductivity, such as brass, nickel, and zinc, are selected to carry currents in electronic components for the additional benefits of their other properties. Occasionally, precious metals like gold and silver are used in metal alloys for electronic parts needing extremely high electrical conductivity. However, precious metals also have a low melting temperature and must be alloyed with other metals for effective use in current-carrying parts.

Low Conductivity 

In many cases, electronic components pair with parts that work to insulate heat from the conductive unit. These metals have low thermal conductivities but high enough electrical conductivities to move a current to the faster conductor adjacent. Metals that are often used for these purposes include steels, titanium alloys, and iron alloys. The most effective metals used to protect conductors from overheating have a low thermal conductivity and a middling electrical conductivity.

The materials we use in all our parts are well-tested, effective, and not compromised in any way during manufacturing or parts production. For more information about the materials we use and the markets we serve with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Medical Equipment and the Use of Electronic Components Made With Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

August 10th, 2017 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we specialize in providing high quality precision stamped parts to rapidly growing and evolving industries such as the electronics, medical, and automotive industries. To meet the high demands of today’s technological manufacturing market, our parts need to maintain our consistent mark of design and production excellence. In the medical market, our parts go into areas of the industry that fabricate equipment designed to provide medical diagnosis and treatment. In some ways, we have the responsibility of other’s lives in our hands when we produce our precision-based parts with TEC metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Aspects of our design and production often come together, and our engineers and floor operations combine skills, knowledge, and experience. One such example is the combination of our electrical parts and medical parts production. Our specialization in electronic components plays a significant role in several types of medical equipment.

Electronic Medical Equipment

The technology of medicine has exponentially increased in ability since the early 1960’s and TEC’s beginnings in the industry of medical equipment parts. Today, electronic components allow digital and mechanical functions to combine in certain Medical equipment, providing medical professionals with extremely accurate diagnostic information, surgical performance, and treatment options. Some examples of complex medical technology using metal stamped electronic components to feed power and information from digital to mechanical parts include the following:

  • MRI, CAT, PET, CT and x-ray visual diagnostic machines
  • Infusion treatment pumps, medical grade lasers, LASIK machines, and other high-accuracy surgical equipment
  • Medical-grade ventilators, incubation pods, digital anesthetic machines, dialysis machines, heart-lung equipment, and other life support machines
  • Microscopic analysis equipment for blood, viral, bacterial, urine, genetic, and other molecular examination
  • Monitors for hospitalized patients and blood pressure readers
  • At-home self-diagnostic equipment
  • Physical therapy motion control machinery and muscle/bone/joint diagnostic readers

Because so many kinds of advanced medical equipment depend on the use of digital and mechanical technology, the use of high precision electronic components is key. With the precision stamped parts TEC provides to the medical market, the state-of-the-art health care and medical science equipment can rely on smooth communication between the digital and the machine.

For more information about precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, and the markets we serve, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Importance of High Performance Blanking with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

July 27th, 2017 · No Comments

With each part we manufacture with our abilities in precision metal stamping, our engineers start with a blanking operation that creates the fundamental base of a finished piece. From the design process to the stamping floor, all of our parts need a high-quality beginning in order to have a high-quality ending. Thomas Engineering Company specializes in creating parts of excellence in form and function. This production requires every stage to show the same quality and excellence. A significant step in the process of comprehensive precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, is blanking and the many standardized operations that go with it.

Blanking is often considered one of the most foundational operations in the process of fabricating most types of metal stamped parts. In the realm of precision stamping, all operations with blanking and tandem stages must be able to provide the highest accuracy and quality for a successful precision-based part to be made.

TEC operations include precision blanking to cut and shear the base form of most parts from sheet metals. Our engineers and blanking dies are equipped to provide a wide range of additional blanking operations.

Blanking Operations at TEC

To continue the TEC standards in excellence from start to finish, we place great importance on maintaining the quality and extreme accuracy in all of our blanking operations, including the following:

  • standard blanking for cutting base part forms from sheet metal
  • shearing and trimming for cutting away sections of a blank
  • piercing/punching for cutting holes and sections into a blank
  • lancing for combining shearing and bending into a single operation
  • perforating for piercing several holes at once
  • notching for trimming sections away from the edges of a blank

With our expert abilities in blanking operations, TEC is able to use skill in production to manufacture base blanks used in creating the final precision-based part. Our customers can rely on our excellence in blanking as well as our continued excellence in part design and rapid prototyping, precision metal stamping, online and offline value-added services, subassembly, packaging, and just-in-time delivery.

For more information about our services in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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The Importance of Subassembly for Parts Made with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

July 25th, 2017 · No Comments

The manufacturing of quality stamped parts takes a quality system. A product with quality and reliability demands the involvement of expert designers, engineers, and stamping technicians, as well as state-of-the-art design and stamping technology. At Thomas Engineering Company, our system of providing high quality parts with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, offers our expertise and a history of excellence since 1962.

Subassembly and our other value-added services are a big part of the expertise TEC provides to our customers. The high quality precision stamped parts we offer rely on our abilities to fully finish a product with comprehensive attention at each stage of the process, on and off the assembly line.

When it comes to parts that need to function as components of another part or within a machine, additional operations for subassembly are essential. Common parts that pass through the hands of the TEC subassembly team include the following:

  • Precision stamped pieces with moving parts that were fabricated separately will also require subassembly action. These parts need extreme care to connect moving parts seamlessly and with perfection
  • Any of our parts needing reliable connections, such as riveting or soldering, are incomplete until they have gone through the subassembly processes here at TEC

In short, there are a wide range of parts that are unfinished until their necessary subassembly processes are complete. With the complex, precision-based micro-miniature, miniature, medium-sized, and ultra-thin parts we fabricate at TEC, it’s especially important that the subassembly process is completed with the utmost attention to detail to avoid even the slightest manufacturing errors. We take pride in our abilities to provide this kind of reliability and accuracy in our subassemblies, no matter the size or complexity of the part.

For more information about our subassembly parts and process and our full services in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Benefits of Compound Tools for High Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

July 13th, 2017 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company (TEC), the different tools and equipment we use for fabricating high-quality, precision-based parts cover a wide range. From our BRUDERER stamping presses to our house-made tools, our productions floor is well stocked with tools for all purposes. When it comes to complex, thin-stamped, micro-miniature, miniature, medium, and ultra-thin parts, look no further than Thomas Engineering Company’s precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

One of our commonly used tools on the production floor is the compound tool. These tools are versatile stations that work well in a number of different operations for a wide range of parts.

Why Compound Tools?

Our TEC engineers value our compound tools for flexibility in uses and reliability in operations. Using a compound tool offers the following benefits to our engineers and customers:

  • Compound tools work as a single station stage for parts of all sizes
  • Our TEC compound tools perform precision-based operations including piercing, cut out stamping, and blanking in one hit
  • Our compound tools work with excellence and efficiency on both low volume jobs and high volumes jobs, giving our customers the quality they need for the quantity they need
  • For parts demanding extreme accuracy for critical hole locations and flatness, TEC compound tools are an optimal equipment on our operations floors
  • Compound tools add quality, accuracy, and efficiency to all our precision metal stamping production

Compound tools are an important part of our tooling repertoire at TEC. These tools—in combination with our state-of-the-art stamping equipment, value-added service equipment, on and offline tooling, and rapid prototyping abilities—give our customers an experience in excellence for all their stamping needs.

For more information about TEC tools and equipment used for our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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