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Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel and Their Uses in Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

June 26th, 2017 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we’re able to process virtually every metal for our precision stamped parts. From the delicate copper parts we fabricate for the electronics industry to the resistant stainless steel parts we manufacture for the automotive industry, TEC uses a wide range of metals and metal alloys. For complex, thin stamped, precision-based parts, Thomas Engineering Company can be your go-to fabricator with our high quality services in metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

In some cases, there are parts that could be made from several differing materials to the same effect, given their purpose. It’s important to compare those materials to determine whether or not the materials would have a different effect. While aluminum and stainless steel are very different metals, there are times when either could be used in a single application. TEC engineers often know from experience, skill, and training which metal to choose, but a basic comparison can be helpful on occasion.


Aluminum is much less expensive than stainless steel, and at a third of the weight of stainless steel, aluminum is useful in lightweight applications for parts that don’t need the heavy-duty strength of stainless steel. That being said, aluminum is still a strong metal in its own right, for example, with parts that don’t demand a higher weight-to-strength ratio.

Aluminum also has naturally high resistance to corrosion and oxidation. However, if aluminum reaches the point where it begins to oxidize, or if it’s exposed to extreme acids or bases, it may rapidly lose structural integrity.

Aluminum is softer and more workable than stainless steel, allowing for more variety in parts without compromising other properties. Additionally, aluminum is a good conductor of electricity, making it ideal for complex parts in the electronics industry that will endure low heat environments.

Stainless Steel

Because it’s stronger and heavier than aluminum, stainless steel can be used in higher stress applications. Stainless steel parts can also be exposed to much higher temperatures and corrosive environments than aluminum parts, though it doesn’t conduct heat or electricity well. Stainless steel is less workable than aluminum because of its hardness, but it can be more easily welded into altered parts.

Overall, there are many cases where there are parts that could be made from stainless steel, but would be more efficiently stamped with aluminum. For example, many automotive parts that traditionally were made from steel are now made from aluminum. There are also many cases where stainless steel is more ideal for a certain part despite its higher price.

Basic comparisons of metals such as this comparison between aluminum and stainless steel can be helpful to the customer and TEC engineers when planning and designing parts. For more information about the materials we use for precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501.

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Benefits of Cold Formed Steel for Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

June 21st, 2017 · No Comments

In the metal stamping industry, the number of types of metals and metal alloys that are utilized across specializations are quite expansive. Within each facet of the industry, however, the range in metal types suitable for that kind of metal stamping start to diminish. Thomas Engineering Company works with virtually any metal fit for precision fabrication, and we’re able to process all high quality metals used for precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Within precision metal stamping, the metals used also fall into a wide range, but there are examples of some metals that are not ideal for the precision stamping process when they are processed in certain ways. For instance, the difference between hot and cold rolled steel in metal stamping lies in the process of creating those materials, which in turn determines whether the final material is suitable for precision work. At TEC, we use cold rolled steel because it guarantees higher precision in the part.

Problems with Hot Rolled Steel

Hot rolled steel is roll-pressed at temperatures higher than 1,700ºF. This temperature causes the steel to recrystallize while cooling, making the end product more workable. The steel is kept at a high temperature throughout the rolling process and then cools quickly, leaving behind a scaled surface. While this rough surface can be considered a problem with hot rolled steel, the main drawback of hot rolled steel is the fast cooling from extreme heat. This results in rounded edges, rather than sharp corners, and an unavoidable slight distortion from shrinkage.

For these reasons, cold rolled steel is much more suitable for precision metal stamping than hot rolled steel.

Pluses of Cold Rolled Steel

Because of the shrinkage and general imprecision of hot rolled steel, for purposes requiring closer dimensional tolerances and accuracy in stamping, hot rolled steels must be processed further. After hot rolled steel has cooled, it can be altered with rolling compression and additional methods of cold finishing. This modification of cooled hot rolled steel offers TEC engineers with a material fit for precision stamping, with benefits like smoother surfaces with closer tolerances, edges that are sharply and accurately defined, greater strength and hardness, and an overall increase in technical and cosmetic precision.

At TEC we always work with the best metals and metals alloys available to the industry that are both high quality and suitable for use in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN. For more information about cold rolled steel and our other materials, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501.

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The Red Metals: Brass, Bronze, and Copper With Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

June 14th, 2017 · No Comments

In the metal stamping industry, a wide range of metalloid materials are used for fabricating parts and for the tools involved in producing those parts. Each type of material, from stainless steel to aluminum, serves its purpose in a fitting setting. At Thomas Engineering Company (TEC), we work with almost all metals and metal alloys available to the industry. With our abilities in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, we’re able to process these materials with expertise and efficiency to produce high-quality and ultra-precise parts.

One of the largest markets for which we produce precision stamped parts is the electronics industry. Even within the automotive and medical industries that we also supply with a large bracket of our products, there are demands for electronic components, electronic connectors, or otherwise electronic-based parts. For these parts, we make frequent use of the three Red Metals: brass, bronze, and copper.

Copper: One of the metals most often used for parts that must conduct electrical current, copper is put to use at TEC for the production of various thin-stamped electronic connectors. Copper has high electrical conductivity and is naturally resistant to corrosion. It also has high strength compared to metals with similar properties and forms well. At TEC, we specialize in oxygen-free coppers for their heightened conductivity and improved ductility.

 Brass: We also use brass for the fabrication of multiple electronic parts. Because brass is an alloyed metal of copper and zinc, it’s also effective for carrying current. The presence of zinc in brass alloys greatly increases the strength and ductility of the material, which makes brass more useful than copper when it comes to high-stress part endurance. Brass alloys can also take additions of other elements and varied content percentages of zinc to alter the properties of the resulting material.

 Bronze: Containing mostly copper, bronzes are also resistant to corrosion. However, because bronze often contain several additional elements, the properties of the resulting material are different from copper alone. For example, most bronzes have a greater hardness than copper and a low friction production with metal-on-metal contact. We often use phosphor bronzes at TEC for the production of parts needing greater tensile strength and corrosion resistance.

While the Red Metals all take their name from their copper content, they offer a wide spectrum of qualities for practical application. Thomas Engineering Company works with the three main Red Metals to design and produce the parts our customers need. For more information about the materials we use and our abilities with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Manufacturing Quality Carbide Composite Tools with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

May 31st, 2017 · No Comments

Since the mid-1960s, Thomas Engineering Company (TEC) has made use of the high quality and valuable reliability of BRUDERER stamping presses and equipment from several other companies meeting the Quality Assurance standards of TEC excellence. We’re able to use these presses, machines, and tools efficiently and at a level of maintained precision because they work so well in tandem with our own tools on and off the assembly line. For example, TEC specializes in the design and manufacturing of high-speed carbide composite tools with our abilities in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN

Carbide composite are a combination of carbide particles acting as aggregates and a metal binder that completes the matrix. Tools made from carbide composite are used in many manufacturing industries for high-stress functions that demand heavy-duty strength. The common types of carbide composites are titanium carbide, tungsten carbide, and tantalum carbide.

Uses: Frequently, carbide composite parts are used for cutting durable materials at high speeds for extended periods of time. Carbide composites can also be used for other purposes where tools are needed to maintain quality and function throughout high-stress situations. Tools that are exposed to daily extreme wear and tear survive for longer periods at peak condition, if the parts of that tool that perform the cut, coining, or forming, or endure other types of friction and pressure are made from carbide composite materials. The binder of the metallic material in a composite works to cement carbide particles, offering an increase in durability, ductility, and flexibility in parts made from those materials.

Benefits: Because carbide composites offer improvements in certain properties, it provides several benefits to parts made from carbide composite materials. In cutting applications, carbide composite blades give a higher quality surface finish on the parts they cut. Carbide composite blades can also hold their integrity under higher friction temperatures, allowing them to cut faster for longer without wearing away. Most carbide composite tools can use an additional coating of hard metallic matrices similar to the tool base. These coatings serve to further increase the durability of the part or tool in question.

Carbide composite tools are used in many industries from the automotive industry to nuclear power production. At TEC, we recognize the power of Carbide composites and that’s why we specialize in their production along with our other production specialties. For more information about our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact TEC at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Maintaining High-Quality Production With Close Tolerance Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

May 17th, 2017 · No Comments

In 1962, William J. Thomas founded Thomas Engineering Company (TEC), and since that time TEC has worked to uphold our quality production of micro-miniature, miniature, medium-sized, and ultra-thin metal stamped parts. Because we work with such thin metals to make complex parts with high precision stamping, we strive to continually improve our abilities to use those materials in tandem with close tolerances for high quality output. With that method comes our reputation for taking on even the most difficult stamping projects and producing extremely difficult parts. For quality parts made with ultra-precise metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, Thomas Engineering Company has the skill and equipment you need.

We specialize in working with thin materials to make parts that fill complex or tiny spaces in the automotive, medical, and electronic industries. With this follows the need to be able to work in close tolerances and maintain the high-quality production our customers deserve.

How do we do it?

  • With our rapid prototyping, CAD/CAM, and real time visual imaging systems, TEC engineers and floor operators are able to keep quality constant from the start of the design process to the end of production.
  • Our reliable BRUDERER high-performance automatic presses allow TEC employees to maintain quality to extremely close tolerances.
  • This equipment also allows us to work with press forces of 22-75 tonnes and at speeds up to 1,500 strokes per minute for rapid stamping operations.
  • BRUDERER presses and our other stamping equipment work in perfect collaboration our offline assembly tools, and our value-added services further improve the quality of the final product.
  • Our engineers are skilled in working with all of the common industry metals and are capable of processing almost every other type of metal or alloy. TEC engineers and floor operators often work daily with steel, copper, aluminum, inconel, brass, bronze, and titanium.
  • With our quality assurance in effect throughout the production, packaging, and delivery process, you can expect the best from TEC for all your ultra-thin, complex, and small parts.

Working in close tolerances is an important ability for the production of precision-based thin stamped parts, but maintaining quality with those close tolerances is also part of the TEC method. For more information about our stamping abilities and our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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The Relevance of PPAP for Automotive Parts Made With Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

May 12th, 2017 · No Comments

One of the largest industries in the U.S. is the automotive industry. This is in part because of the high demand of vehicles for daily transportation, goods transportation, public transit, sports, luxury, and fun. However, the parts production that goes into making up the hundreds of sections of each vehicle also adds a significant aspect to the automotive industry. Thomas Engineering Company fulfills an import role in automotive parts production by supplying crucial pieces from electrical components to fuel system components and more. These high quality parts are made possible with our experience in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, and the values that using the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) system offers.

PPAP was largely developed by the AIAG to establish common ground for the expectations of the quality of customer relations, production, and product. At TEC, following the PPAP plays an important role in how we approach the following aspects of our supply services to the automotive industry.

Client: When we begin working with a customer in the automotive industry, the first part of the process is for our engineers, customer service department, and other production staff members to fully understand the needs of that customer. This includes everything from part specifications and timelines to quantity and budget. Without prioritizing the client needs before beginning the process of design and production, the industry as a whole would see negative results, whereas today there are positive, quality results when working with TEC.

Production: The next step in the process of supplying quality precision stamped automotive parts is to focus on how the standards of the PPAP guides our design and production. With our abilities in CAD/CAM part projections and rapid prototyping, the design process sets the foundation for precision metal stamping excellence. Our state-of-the-art stamping and tooling equipment also plays a large role in contributing to TEC’s PPAP-approved automotive parts production.

Control: Our production process is strong when it stands alone, but what really pushes our precision stamping excellence to the highest possible caliber is our quality management control. Following the guidelines of the PPAP has given TEC production the basis for excellence as a standard. That basis, along with our additional services such as Quality Assurance and Just In Time Delivery, works to continually improve our abilities in customer relations and the metal stamping process.

The PPAP offers guidelines for every step of our work in providing parts to the automotive industry, but it also creates the blueprints for establishing a continued dedication to improvement and excellence. For more information about PPAP and our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Classifying High Quality Electronic Components Made With Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

April 27th, 2017 · No Comments

Since 1962, Thomas Engineering Company has strived to take on challenges in metal stamping and successfully navigate and accomplish the manufacturing of parts ranging from incredibly complex to simple, yet tiny. Because we continually push the limits of our abilities in metal stamping, we have maintained our status as an industry leader, supplying high quality precision stamped parts to the automotive, medical, and electronics markets and more. When it comes to your needs in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, look no further than Thomas Engineering Company.

One of our specialties in precision metal stamping is the design and manufacturing of high-quality electronic components. Not only do these components play an important role in the production of electronic connectors, they also serve their purpose in virtually every other industry today. From automotive to telecommunications industries, the use of electronic components is widespread and crucial, making the production of our high-quality precision stamped components key.

Because electronic components are used in so many versatile situations, we work to manufacture precision stamped components in each of the three main classification categories.

Passive: Passive electronic components are one of the most commonly used parts across industries. These parts don’t transfer energy like their active counterparts and can only use sources of power or circuits to which they are directly connected. While passive electronic components can increase voltage and current of a transmitted energy, they can’t change the amplification. Transformers, resistors, capacitors, and inductors make up the majority of all types of passive electronic components.

Active: Another common classification of electronic components is the active component, which works to transmit electrical power into a circuit. These types of electronic components use a separate energy source and transfer that energy into a circuit. Transistors, certain types of valves, and most diodes are active electronic components that feed energy into connected circuits.

Electromechanical: An important, yet less utilized type of electronic components manufactured with our precision metal stamping services is the electromechanical component. These forms of electronic components use electrical connections and mobile parts to transmit and alter power. The electrical signal moving through an electromechanical part creates the movement in an electronic component and allows the part to alter that signal accordingly.

While electronic components play a significant part in our manufacturing and design processes, we also offer much more when it comes to comprehensive precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN. For more information about our services, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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What it Means to Be an ISO 9001:2008 Registered Manufacturer When it Comes to Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

April 24th, 2017 · No Comments

Thomas Engineering Company has been an innovator in the metal stamping industry for over 50 years. As a leading company in the production of micro-miniature, miniature, medium, and ultra-thin precision stamped parts, we strive everyday to improve all aspects of our operations, services, and production as a whole. Because we’re an ISO 9001:2008 registered company, we work to maintain our quality assurance and uphold the standards for a quality management system. This dedication to continued quality allows TEC to provide our customers with the best experience in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Being an ISO 9001:2008 registered manufacturer means we follow specific guidelines and requirements set by the International Organization for Standardization—the ISO.

International Organization for Standardization

The ISO routinely publishes new requirements for quality management systems, and with our 9001:2008 certificate comes the most current requirements. This includes:

  1. Our demonstration of the continued provision of parts and customer services that meet the ISO standards for statuary and customer regulations. This means that we can keep giving our customers the best of the best when it comes to precision metal stamping
  2. Our work to continually improve the satisfaction of all our customers in all areas of our production process by applying the regulatory ISO system of quality management processes. This means we ensure our customers are satisfied and well cared for throughout all our processes, including design, manufacturing, packaging, and receiving.
  3. Our successful implementing of all ISO regulations into a quality system adjusted to the industrial and customer needs of precision metal stamping production. This means we have used the rules of ISO certification to create the optimal experience for our customers and company as a whole.

Quality System

Our quality system is made possible by ISO regulations, and it allows us to employ our Quality Assurance commitment for all our production processes and customer services. With TEC Quality Assurance, you can expect efficiency, cost-effective production, rapid design processes, reliable online and offline manufacturing, high-quality precision stamped parts, specialty packaging, and just-in-time delivery.

When it comes to precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, and excellent customer service, you can count on Thomas Engineering Company for ISO standards in quality and reliable manufacturing. For more information, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Advantages of Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN, Over Other Metal Forming Operations

April 14th, 2017 · No Comments

Working with metal is a centuries-old method of manufacturing products for a wide range of markets. Since the mid-1800s, many of today’s common metal forming operations grew rapidly into what we now know them to be. With the development of these metal forming operations, a certain degree of separation was inevitable, and in the current industry, companies often specialize in one type of metal forming operation. Thomas Engineering Company offers expert precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, a metal forming technique that holds its place in several ways over other methods of working with metal.

While every metal forming technique has its place in the industry, some methods have been replaced during production in favor of metal stamping operations. For example:

  • Casting – Casting is a process using molten metal and a mold shape to create metal parts. The common type of casting used in the metal forming industry is die casting, a process where a molten metal is forced under intense pressure into two dies made from hardened steel. Though die casting works well for the production of large, heavy duty parts, the finished product has a few downsides. Because of the way metal is molded in a die casting process, a part can often be more porous and have detrimental voids in its structure, leading to failure and early replacement down the line. Compared to metal stamped parts, die cast parts are also more costly to make in terms of materials, equipment, and labor.
  • ForgingHot forging is rarely used in industrial metal parts manufacturing today. Born from the age-old tradition of smithing and hot forging are current cold forging techniques used on many production floors. Cold forging is a similar process to hot forging, but a heated slug isn’t used when shaping a part. Because cold forging uses extreme compressive force to reform metal crystals and grain paths to shape a part from a raw metal, it’s a process that’s most efficient when using softer metals like aluminum instead of harder metals like steel. Cold forging also has drawbacks, such as the secondary operations needed to finish a part after it’s forged. The complexity of a part and its ability to meet close tolerances are also limited with cold forging production.

While these and many other metal forming operations have benefits in a number of industrial applications, the development of metal stamping and the exponentially-increasing technical abilities of metal stamping methods are beginning to outstrip other methods in production. This is especially true when manufactured parts must meet high-accuracy demands. Thomas Engineering Company provides parts that can meet those needs with our expert precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN. For more information about our precision stamping production and supplementary services, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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The Governor’s Safety Award and the Importance of Maintenance and Procedure with Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

April 5th, 2017 · No Comments

On May 18th, 2017, at the Governor’s Safety Award Luncheon, Thomas Engineering Company will be recognized for excellence in workplace safety. We take pride in our continued commitment to safety and place considerable workplace value in our constant efforts to strengthen protection for our employees with our emphasis on providing quality parts to our customers. As an industry leader in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, Thomas Engineering Company takes responsibility for outstanding practices in safety on and off the production floor.

Safety and protection for our employees in the workplace stems from two main aspects of the metal stamping mantra. These are two values core to TEC production:


  1. Daily/routine cleaning is a fundamental, yet simple step in continued maintenance of the workspace. Ensuring the production floors, general workspace, and machines are cleaned thoroughly each day is important to furthering the protection of our workers.
  2. Necessary regular machine care also falls into the basic maintenance of TEC production floors. This includes cleaning, oiling, and general care.
  3. Preventative machine maintenance is crucial to keeping our workers safe from failing machinery and damaged tools.
  4. Routine checkups on all areas of the production floor throughout the building allow us to keep an eye out for any potential dangers to our employees.
  5. Safeguarding machinery is a long-valued industry practice that has kept workers safe in many instances from the everyday dangers of production.
  6. Emergency brakes fall into the safeguarding category, but they’re important on their own as a final resort to keeping workers safe from anything that may go wrong with the equipment we use at TEC.


  1. Machine usage can make or break a safety atmosphere. The correct usage of all machinery is significant in protecting employees throughout each workday.
  2. General safety regulations for workers is not something we take lightly at TEC. All employees undergo extensive safety procedure training at regular intervals each year.
  3. Safeguarding workers is just as important as safeguarding machinery. We make sure our workers are equipped with the best personal protective equipment available to the industry.
  4. Routine building and production inspections continue the trend of preventative maintenance and shop upkeep. Regulated inspections are important for revealing key information about the function of the production floor, our machinery, and the building as a whole.
  5. Routine inspections for workers also offer crucial information about the safety of our employees and the effectiveness of our safety training, safety regulations, and protective clothing.
  6. Job roles also play a strong part in keeping our workers safe. The clear designation of a job role simplifies the safety procedures for each employee and allows TEC to continue running smoothly as a precision metal stamping company.

For more information about Thomas Engineering Company and our abilities in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (763) 533-1501, or join us at the Minneapolis Convention Center on May 18th for the awards program with the Minnesota Safety Council.

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