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The History and Growth of Industrial Just-in-Time Delivery and Its Role in the History of Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 28th, 2017 · No Comments

In the 1960s and 1970s, a new approach to manufacturing began its introduction into the global industrial world. This approach was first established in Japan when major companies like Toyota created new methods of cutting down waste, time, and cost of production. Leaning out the manufacturing process in general was possible because of the concept of Just-in-Time (JIT). The idea of supplying parts as they are demanded is now a crucial part of most industrial manufacturing companies across the globe. At Thomas Engineering Company, our own ability to provide our customers with Just-in-Time Delivery  is all thanks to JIT manufacturing and the role it played in the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

After WWII, Japan struggled economically with low funds and few natural resources along with a lack of space to utilize for manufacturing. The Japanese industry had to overcome these problems to survive, and ultimately, leaning out manufacturing processes were the result.

Just-In-Time

The idea of JIT manufacturing relies on the demand of a product. In today’s industrial world, producing things only when they are needed makes perfect sense, but in the past, the industry was set up based on stockpiling inventory and allowing customers to “shop” for their needs. Unfortunately, the older methods left behind waste in the form of unused parts gathering dust and production materials waiting to fulfill their purpose.

When JIT production was slowly adapted throughout global industries, waste became less prominent at each stage of the process. Toyota is often recognized as the forerunner of JIT manufacturing and lean production, but the concept quickly spread throughout the automotive industry during the 1970s and 1980s. While JIT clashed with another new manufacturing concept—manufacturing resource planning (MRP), a process that used new computer technology to predict and plan the trajectory of resource uses and needs—the idea of JIT prevailed by the early 1990s.

Since the mid-1990s, the global market as a whole has adjusted to the patterns of JIT production. Adapting JIT manufacturing systems into TEC production has allowed us to provide our customers with the benefits of Just-in-Time Delivery services.

With our Just-in-Time Delivery, your schedule is honored as an important part of TEC production. For more information about our Just-in-Time Delivery and how the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, shaped our JIT production techniques, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Thomas Engineering Company Earns Governor’s Safety Award

March 22nd, 2017 · 1 Comment

Thomas Engineering Company Earns Governor’s Safety Award

Thomas Engineering Company, a contract manufacturer of metal stampings, will be recognized for excellence in workplace safety and health at the Governor’s Safety Award luncheon on May 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Thomas Engineering Company is one of 266 employers to be honored through the awards program, coordinated by the Minnesota Safety Council.

“We thank Thomas Engineering Company for its commitment to safety,” said Paul Aasen, president of the Minnesota Safety Council. “These efforts protect workers, strengthen the organization and benefit the community as a whole.”

“Safety is a core value here at Thomas Engineering Company. Our people are the organizations greatest assets. All employees at Thomas Engineering Company work together as a team to ensure a safe work environment. We are very proud of our safety record and feel honored to receive the Governor’s Safety Award. ” Tim Aberwald, President of Thomas Engineering Company.

 Since 1934, the annual Governor’s Safety Awards program has honored Minnesota Employers with exceptional safety performance. Applicants are judged on several years of injury data as it compares with their industry’s national statistics, and on their progress in implementing a comprehensive safety program. Winner are recognized at three levels:

  • Meritorious Achievement (115 winners): Incidence rates that are better than the industry average for at least three years, and a score between 50 and 74 and 100-point safety program evaluation scale.
  • Outstanding Achievement (108 winners): Continuing improvement and/or continuing outstanding record with incident rates that are 51%-91% better than the industry average, and a score between 75 and 90 on the safety program evaluation scale.
  • Award of Honor (43 winners): Incidence rates at least 91% better than the industry average, and a score between 91 and 100 on the safety program evaluation scale.

Thomas Engineering Company received a Meritorious Achievement Award.

The Governor’s Safety Award luncheon is part of the 83rd Minnesota Safety & Health Conference, coordinated by the Minnesota Safety Council. The conference is the oldest and largest gathering of workplace safety and health professionals in the region. The Minnesota Safety Council, founded in 1928, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Minnesota by preventing unintentional injuries (“accidents”).

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Strengthening Materials for High Quality Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 16th, 2017 · No Comments

The sheet metals we use at Thomas Engineering Company range from high performance stainless steels to aluminum and copper alloys. These materials have been altered to improve their basic characteristics and to create additional properties that render the metal viable for industrial use. The process of treating sheet metals used for precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, begins with the atomically-pure material.

Pure metals are not as structurally sound as the altered versions. In fact, they are often soft and the molecules flow and move easily. To use the metal in a manufacturing setting, the structure of the metal itself must be changed. This is where alloys come in.

Essentially a compound of one basic metal and several other metal or metalloid materials, alloys are what we most often encounter in our everyday lives and on the manufacturing floor of virtually every industrial building. Stainless steel is a commonly-recognized alloy, but often coppers and aluminums used day-to-day are types of alloys as well.

Alloys are formed by filling in the gaps. The literal structure of metal atoms resembles a grid or matrix of spheres connected by lines. These lines are interatomic bonds and the spheres are the atoms themselves. While the formation of this matrix is complete, there are inevitable gaps between the atoms and bonds where empty space creates the malleability of pure metals.

Though these gaps add flexibility to the pure metal, the give is limited and the material still lacks in most other properties necessary for successful metal stamping. To add additional flexibility, elasticity, durability, strength, ductility, corrosion resistance, and many other properties, the pure metal must be alloyed with materials that offer these qualities.

To alloy the pure metal with additional materials without damaging the structure of any materials involved, the matrix is kept intact, but gaps are filled with small atoms. These fillers are called interstitial alloying elements, and they work alongside other alloying agents called substitutional alloying elements that meld or take the place of the pure metal atoms in the matrix (example figure).

Adding in alloying elements strengthens the pure metal material without significantly changing its structure, and it can now be used effectively to form the parts TEC customers need. For more information about the alloys and high quality sheet metals we use in our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501.

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Material Characteristics and Treating Materials Used for Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 1st, 2017 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we work with the highest quality metals that we know our customers would choose for their parts. Selecting the best materials allows us to manufacture the best products. With each part we stamp, we use the specific material that would best fit the function of that part. By highlighting durability, strength, flexibility, and corrosion resistance—among other attributes—Thomas Engineering Company performs precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN with materials that continually outshine others.

When it comes to preparing materials to use in precision metal stamping, TEC engineers first look at the basic characteristics of the metal, including physical and chemical properties and the surface attributes. These characteristics vary both from metal to metal and between the different metal treating processes. For example, steel is commonly used for most metal stamped parts, and its characteristics change with treatments.

Steels that are frequently used for a wide range of purposes includes mid-strength steels, high strength steels, and stainless steels.

The characteristics of mid-strength steels (also referred to as mild or drawing steels) are created with a mixture of 0.04% carbon, 0.25% manganese, and several smaller amounts of other metals. The mixture of separate metals is very small in mid-strength steels, and often 99% of the alloy is iron, the main element in most steel compounds. The addition of more metals in these steels gives improved strength but lessens formability and weldability.

High-strength steels offer a greater range of metals compounded into the steel alloy, which provides a greater variety of characteristics from steel to steel. This can mean greater plasticity and improved weldability, formability, and strength. Heat treating and other treatments done after the alloying of the metal offer even more room for changing characteristics to suit the function of the material.

Stainless steel is known for its primary characteristic of being resistance to corrosion and oxidation. Most stainless steels contain 10% chromium in the form of a chromium-based oxide surface coating that blocks the steel’s contact with corrosion-conducive conditions. Not only do stainless steels have greater resistance to corrosion, they also provide low yield strength, high impact strength, and rapid hardening. Their flexibility and plasticity is improved by the alloying of nickel, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, and traces of other metals.

While steel is the most frequently used material for its wide range of characteristics, there are many other metals that serve their own purposes with different characteristics and options for treatment. For more information about the materials we use at Thomas Engineering Company for precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Using Interchangeable Tooling Today and Its Role in the History of Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

February 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

The majority of tools and technology used in the metal stamping industry have developed alongside each other. While there is some digital technology today that has advanced further than the mechanical technology it’s paired with, in most cases the evolutions of types of metal stamping equipment have moved forward hand-in-hand. At Thomas Engineering Company, we make use of the highest quality technology available in the industry, and we’re able to provide our precision metal stamping services thanks to the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

One important piece of metal stamping technology that TEC engineers and technicians put to good use is interchangeable tooling.

Interchangeable tooling is based on the design concept of interchangeable parts. These parts are manufactured to be identical in terms of practical use, meaning they can be used in the same assembly operation. For example, one type of component can be interchangeable with another type of components because they were designed and manufactured with interchangeable tooling.

With interchangeable tooling, TEC customers avoid the cost of additional designs and tooling processes. The use of interchangeable parts also means equipment is more quickly and effectively repaired, and parts can be replaced without needing custom part design and stamping.

The concept of interchangeable parts grew during the industrial revolution. In the U.S., the idea was most important with the increased use of assembly lines in manufacturing plants across industries. Lathes, planers, milling machines, and other machine tools developed during the early 20th century had the biggest impact on the growth of interchangeable parts.

When electrically-powered machinery and computer-aided design and manufacturing were integrated into most industries, interchangeable parts could be realized to the highest degree of accuracy.

Today, TEC uses interchangeable tooling to provide customers with the precision-based interchangeable parts they need for efficient, cost-effective production.

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

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The Three Major Pillars Supporting High Quality Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

February 15th, 2017 · No Comments

For over 50 years, Thomas Engineering Company has specialized in precision metal stamping, providing custom stamped products to companies across the country. Maintaining excellence over the years has taken dedication to growing as a company and developing new design and manufacturing processes as the advancement of metal stamping technology continues. TEC’s abilities as a company are supported on three pillars: people, production, and technology. These pillars are fundamental to the Thomas Engineering Company’s standards for high quality precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

The combination of each pillar upholds our standards as they work together to create finalized precision stamped parts and deliver them to our valued customers.

People: From engineers and machine specialists to accountants and representatives, TEC production is made possible by the hard working people on our staff. Our experienced engineers supply innovative part design, die design, and the effective use of software, which leads to the quality touch that marks TEC products. Our proficient machine technicians and floor operators keep equipment and production lines running smoothly to get orders to our customers on time, and our customer service department and representatives across the country top off the well-oiled machine that is the pillar of TEC people.

Design & Production: Without a quality product, however, even the best people in the world cannot make a good company. TEC engineers have established innovative approaches to part design with advanced CAD/CAM imaging software and rapid prototyping abilities. With customer-engineer communication throughout the design process, the finished drafts and prototypes of any given part will fit the exact specifications needed. Our production process completes this pillar when paired with design, and with state-of-the-art rapid stamping and thin stamping abilities, our production process is just as particular as our design. To accomplish the excellence we reach in the design and production process, we also rely on the third pillar: technology.

Equipment & Software: The technology that makes up our designing software and precision stamping equipment completes the trio of pillars intrinsic to TEC. From progressive high-speed dies to CAD/CAM imaging, we work with nothing but the best. Not only does our production technology allow us to perform rapid and thin precision stamping, but it also gives our engineers and technicians the abilities to complete valued-added services such as in-die spot welding, plating, and finishing, deburring, and more. Our packaging equipment also provides options for tape and reel packaging and other methods of specialty packaging for unique parts.

With these three pillars; people, production, and technology, TEC’s standards for high-quality precision stamping are met year after year. For more information about Thomas Engineering Company and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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The Development of Progressive Stamping and the Role it Plays in the History of Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

February 10th, 2017 · No Comments

Metal stamping has played a significant role in manufacturing industries for hundreds of years, from technological advancements to wars and beyond. Each decade in the history of metal stamping has its own notable advancements in stamping technology, in the last decade of the 1800’s, the first records of a progressive die were published. The development of progressive dies is fundamental to the high-quality precision stamping performed at Thomas Engineering Company, and at TEC, we place great importance on honoring the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

The first mention of a progressive die came in 1896 in The Press Working of Metals by Oberlin Smith with methods described as “successive gang cutting.” The actual description of what is considered a progressive die came a year later in Dies and Die Making by J.L. Lewis.

During the early 1900s, progressive dies were increasingly used to produce quickly and in high quantities. Automotive companies used early progressive dies to produce a large number of parts, including electric engine components similar to the electronic components TEC produces today. In 1955, a chapter in the Die Design Handbook produced by the American Society of Tool Manufacturing detailed progressive dies of the era.

With the rebirth of the economy after WWII, manufacturing demands rose and production time needed to be shortened significantly to supply industries with enough parts to meet the increase in demand. During this time, the progressive die became crucial to metal stamping companies across the U.S.

In 1953, Ed Stouten and his partner launched Capitol Engineering Company, a novel company specializing in die design. Stouten created the first strip stamping methods, using scrap material connecting parts to carry the strip through a progressive die. The success of his methods gave rise to a new generation of progressive stamping dies.  Stouten spread his knowledge of progressive dies and strip stamping throughout the 50 years in seminar after seminar.

Today, even some of our most advanced progressive stamping dies use the technology developed by Stouten and his engineers. Budding engineers are routinely educated in Stouten’s designs and seminar materials, and his work is continually published in all types of metal stamping literature.

Without the development of the progressive stamping die and Stouten’s contributions, the precision stamped parts TEC specializes in would not be possible. For more information about how the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, has formed the precision metal stamping services Thomas Engineering Company provides, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Medical Device Technology Using Electronic Components Made with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

February 6th, 2017 · No Comments

Today’s healthcare technology is so advanced that lives are saved every day with the standard equipment in hospitals across the country. Because many of the machines used to diagnose and treat patients rely on electricity to function, the electric components used to transfer power and information through this equipment is just as important as the machines themselves. Thomas Engineering Company is proud to supply high-quality electronic components made with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, to the medical device technology industry.

From basic lighting to the ovens in the cafeteria, every U.S. hospital functions with the help of electricity and electronic technology. For operating rooms, examination rooms, and the ER, the technology needed is much more complex and demands equally-advanced connecting components. TEC supplies electronic components for state-of-the-art medical device technology.

Scanners and diagnostic devices including MRI scanners, CT scanners, and X-Ray equipment use precision stamped electronic components to complete the transfer of power and computer data. The function of these diagnostic machines relies on the quality and dependability of components like those TEC supplies to the medical device technology industry.

Common hospital equipment also frequently relies on electronic components to function. This can include equipment varying in uses such as electronically-adjustable hospital beds, quality lighting for operating rooms, HEPA-grade filtration system motors, defibrillators, heating pads, blood pressure readers, and much more.

Medical electronic equipment for specialized fields also uses precision stamped electronic components to function. Most of the standard equipment for dentistry, physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, osteopathy, dermatology, and essentially every other branch of medicine runs on electricity, and the industries that build the equipment for these fields demand a supply of high-quality stamped electronic components.

TEC engineers are experienced in designing and manufacturing the quality components the medical device technology industry needs. For more information about electronic components made with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501.

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Today’s Complex Car Engines Demand Automotive Components Made With Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

January 30th, 2017 · No Comments

Over the past 30 years, automotive companies have competed to rapidly increase the technological capabilities of their products. Specifically, the complexity of car engines and computers has exponentially grown since the 1990s. Even within the last 10 years, the demand for in-house satellite GPS systems, mounted sensors, Bluetooth stereo technology, and self-parking cars has significantly increased. These features alone are convenient add-ons and barely touch on the highly-advanced intelligence of today’s engines. The capabilities of the inner workings of today’s cars are so developed that equally-advanced electronic components must be used to assemble the final product. Thomas Engineering Company specializes in automotive components made with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Electronics run throughout today’s cars powering lighting systems, navigation systems, camera sensors, temperature adjustment, seats, and much more. In fact, engines alone demand a large percentage of the electrical power generated by a car. TEC electronic components serve to connect and direct electricity running through a car engine, completing the high functioning engine abilities of today’s automobile.

The engine control unit (ECU) in a vehicle works as the brain of the engine, controlling the complex working parts that come into play as the car is driven. TEC’s precision stamped components operate across the ECU and the connecting parts throughout the engine.

In standard gasoline engines, even parts that are considered basic necessities for a functional car are controlled to the point of complete accuracy through the ECU. This includes the cooling system, ignition, fuel injection rates, throttle control, and in some cases, lubrication systems. The ECU also allows for the function of more advanced engine technology, such as On-Board Diagnostics, to analyze and detect problems with an engine, or Lambda control, which determines the air-to-fuel ratio in an internal combustion engine.

Diesel engines also use an ECU to control fuel injection rates, cooling systems, and throttle, but the electronic intelligence of today’s ECU computers, helped along by TEC precision stamped automotive components, are also capable of perfectly controlling much more advanced aspects of an engine, such as Turbochargers, regenerative catalytic converters, and emission control.

There are many more aspects of diesel and gasoline engines that a computer electronically controls, as well as numerous parts and features throughout the rest of the vehicle. Call us today at (763) 533-1501 to learn more about how Thomas Engineering Company makes electronics in cars possible with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

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Thomas Engineering Company Will be Attending the Worlds’ Largest Annual MedTech Event in Anaheim, CA.

January 19th, 2017 · No Comments

Thomas Engineering Company will have two representatives (Engineer and Manufacturing Manager) at the MD&M West and Electronics West Event at the Anaheim Convention Center, from February 7-9, 2017.  Our booth will feature current information about TEC’s production of medical devices and electronic components as well as our thin stamping, in-die operations, and rapid prototyping abilities. You will learn why TEC is a respected leader in the precision metal stamping  industry in MN, across the U.S. and in countries aboard. TEC booth number is 3085, please stop by and learn about Thomas Engineering Company capabilities.

TEC has attended the MD&M West show for years to exhibit our own innovations and achievements in precision metal stamping. MD&M West is one of the best opportunities to learn about ground breaking designs in the Medical and Electronic Industry and what TEC can do for you.

MD&M West is in its 32nd year. You have the opportunity to connect with over 20,000 engineers and executives, and big name companies like 3M. Medtronic’s, St. Jude Medical, to find solutions, deepen your knowledge and connect with Thomas Engineering Company, and others inside and outside your industry.

The event hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, February 7-8 from 10 am – 5 pm and Thursday, February 9 from 10am – 4pm. Registration starts at 8:30 am. Checkout more information about the event here.

Please contact us with any questions or inquiries about our precision metal stamping and rapid prototype capabilities at (763) 533-1501.

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