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Medical Device Classification and the Fabrication Role of Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

December 7th, 2017 · No Comments

With over 50 years of experience in quality design, stamping, and assembly capabilities, Thomas Engineering Company offers precision that even the most advanced medical equipment can utilize effectively. Medical equipment and devices are highly regulated in the U.S., and for good reason. Without strict guidelines for medical devices there could be serious consequences when that equipment is put to use. The components TEC manufactures with precision metal stamping for medical devices in Minneapolis, MN, meet FDA standards and quality expectations.

TEC’s role in the production of high quality, FDA-approved medical devices includes precision stamping of micro-miniature, miniature, medium, and ultra-thin components. Our capabilities in thin stamping, stamping intricate parts, handling close tolerances, and thin slotting comprehensively fill the demands of even the most complex, delicate medical device components.

The categorization of medical devices places different types of equipment into three general classes.

Classes of Devices

  1. Class I medical devices include general tools and equipment with direct importance to life sustainment or prevention of life impairment. For example, hospital bed monitors, hearing aids, and electronic vital diagnostics are considered Class I medical devices. TEC precision stamping offers electronic components and other advanced parts for Class I medical devices.
  2. Class II medical devices must meet stricter requirements for FDA approval than Class I devices. The health and safety of patients rely on the accuracy and effectiveness of Class II devices, and because this equipment assists in medical services for more severe health complications and injuries, it must be reliable. With TEC’s advanced part analysis and rapid prototyping, components for Class II medical products are predictively manufactured for a high quality final product.
  3. Class III medical devices are the highest risk equipment, meaning these machines address the most severe and emergency health conditions. This classification also includes a range of devices meeting guidelines for FDA Premarket Approval. Because of the range in complexity of Class III devices, the expertise of TEC engineers and team members in precision stamping services and assembly is key in comprehensive Class III device manufacturing.

TEC supplies high-quality precision-stamped components for medical equipment in all device classes. From general treatment to emergency equipment, we serve the medical industry with reliability and efficiency to keep device and equipment at industry standards, with continued FDA approval.

To learn more about how we serve the medical industry or for information about the other industries we serve with our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Lean Manufacturing Productivity for Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

October 31st, 2017 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we specialize in creating the best product design and performing the highest quality production on the market plus also have a company-wide emphasis on promoting efficiency and optimizing waste reduction. Our services for rapid prototyping and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN each make use of Just-In-Time manufacturing and lean production for the benefits of our customers, the industry, and the environment.

The engineering involved in creating precision metal stamped parts is mirrored in the design patterns of creating a system that follows lean manufacturing standards and low-waste industrial-level production.

A Background of Lean Manufacturing

Since the late 1980s, the principles of lean production have become a widely-accepted industrial system of management in automotive, electronics, telecommunications, medical, aerospace, aviation, and countless other production markets.

The concept of lean manufacturing grew from the Japanese “Muda,” Muri,” and “Mura” (“waste,” “overburden,” and “work load”). This trifecta of inevitable sections of industrial production can be put together in many different ways, but the ideals of lean manufacturing work to minimize the production of waste with a balanced work load, while keeping overburden at arms-length as an abstract concept to avoid.

In short, lean manufacturing today works to fabricate products based on demand of the client, without stockpiling inventory and wasting resources with an overburden of manufacturing.

Lean Production at TEC

For over 50 years, TEC has worked to continually improve our lean manufacturing productivity. Today, we offer our customers industry-leading standards of design and production quality in rapid prototyping and precision metal stamping. Not only do our Just-In-Time production methods function as waste and cost reducers for design and production, this system also works in tandem with our value-added, specialty packaging, and Just-In-Time delivery services.

If your goal is for high-precision parts with unparalleled design and production quality, look no further than Thomas Engineering Company. Not only do our expert teams of engineers and technicians work to provide product excellence, TEC continues to offer the additional benefits of lowered cost and reduced waste with our lean manufacturing productivity system.

To learn more about our system of lean manufacturing with rapid prototyping and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Packaging Ultra-Thin, Micro, Mini, and Medium Parts Made with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

October 27th, 2017 · No Comments

The ability to manufacture quality parts with extreme precision and stamping excellence means nothing if we can’t get those parts to our customers safely, quickly, and efficiently. To meet the needs of our customers to the fullest extent possible, we developed our Just-In-Time delivery system, and we continue to perfect the effectiveness of our packaging and shipping methods. At Thomas Engineering Company, we may provide industry leading rapid prototyping and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, but we also maintain an emphasis on a waste-free manufacturing, packing, and delivery system.

To support our system of Just-In-Time delivery, we maintain comprehensive packaging and shipping capabilities as a part of our value-added services.  Because our precision stamped parts are often delicate, complex, and stamped at extremely close tolerances, packaging and shipping becomes a major consideration for the final products. With our Just-In-Time delivery abilities, our customers receive orders quickly without the dangers of part damage. Thanks to our specialty packing systems, we’re also able to significantly reduce waste and time during the process of designing and fabricating unique packaging.

 Tape & Reel Packaging

For many large orders, our tape & reel packaging methods are highly effective to create reduced-waste protective packaging that accommodates thin-stamped, fragile parts. The streamlined technique of automated-packing with tape & reel materials is most beneficial for shipping large orders of complex precision stamped micro-miniature, miniature, and medium sized parts designed for precise functions in the medical, electronic, and automotive industries. With tape & reel packaging alongside Just-In-Time delivery through TEC, you can expect high quality parts on schedule without wasting additional resources on excess packing materials and time.

Specialty Packaging

Along with tape & reel packaging, TEC Just-In-Time delivery services also include specialty packaging design for certain orders. While our standard packaging is highly effective for shipping thin stamped, micro-miniature, miniature, and medium sized parts, there are some unique, highly advanced parts that demand special packaging. For these orders, TEC utilizes specialty packaging while maintaining our low-waste, effective Just-In-Time delivery system values.

If you need an order filled for precision stamped parts, look no further than Thomas Engineering Company. Not only do we offer state-of-the-art rapid prototyping software and design capabilities, industry leading precision metal stamping services, and additional tooling and assembly, we also provide advanced packaging and Just-In-Time delivery for parts of all sizes and complexities.

For more information about our full services and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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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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