Using Optical Comparators with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

April 21st, 2016 · No Comments

As a specialist in precision metal stamping and manufacturing, Thomas Engineering Company cuts no corners when it comes to the production process. Not only do we use the best tools, presses, punches, and machines available, we also utilize state of the art imaging, processing, and data gathering technology. With all our services in precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, including rapid prototyping and value-added services, we are able to offer our customers the quality parts they need.

One of the aspects of our production process that allows us to offer our customers such a high level of precision is our optical comparator technology.

Optical Comparators:

An optical comparator is a device that allows our technicians to inspect critical details of each part during the manufacturing process. By applying the principles of optics to a part magnification, these comparators tell our engineers and technicians a lot about the part in question.

These principles measure a magnification’s dimensions and geometry against a prescribed limit, and with our comparators’ data processing systems, we can get the information we need to produce the most precise and highest functioning part possible.

TEC’s Uses:

There are several different optical comparators we use, each in specific production processes for specific parts. These comparators have their own data processing software which provides our engineers and technicians with image analyses and measurement reports. In order to produce the quality and precision our customers need, we use comparators in the production of precision-stamped parts—including medical, automotive, and electrical parts—and many situations of rapid prototyping.

We use the following optical comparators, each installed with their own data processors, to ensure the most accurate, highest quality parts and prototype production:

Nikon 14” Horizontal Optical Comparator

Nikon 16” Vertical Optical Comparator

Deltronic 14” Vertical Optical Comparators

Deltronic 14” Horizontal Optical Comparators

Deltronic 16” Horizontal Optical Comparators

Gagemaster 22” Horizontal Optical Comparator

For more information about our optical comparators and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at 763.533.1501.


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Punch Presses and Thin Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

April 14th, 2016 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we specialize in stamping materials as thin as .001” for rapid prototyping, precision stamping, and value-added services. To provide our customers with the highest quality parts possible, we use the most advanced technologies available that are appropriate to each task. We use specialized punch presses for thin precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Punch presses are a kind of metal stamping equipment used to forcibly cut or punch holes in a material. In our case, TEC engineers use quality punch presses to cut holes into blanks or parts made of a task-specific metal.

Because precision stamping with thin materials is a highly technical process, there are several problems that could arise when a low-quality punch press is used or when a punch press is used incorrectly. While TEC has long surpassed these problems, it’s beneficial to understand why these problems could occur when other companies attempt thin precision stamping without an adequate background in thin stamping.

Burring is a common problem when stamping with many metal types and blank thicknesses. When it comes to thin stamping, dull or damaged punches can leave burrs in holes or cutouts in the part.

Chipping can also result from poor tool quality or cheap punches. A lack of precision or an incomplete punch can chip areas of a part as well.

Cracking is often a result of poorly-treated metal or over-stressed parts, but it can also occur when the incorrect punch is used or if the part is inadequately-aligned.

Using a punch press to pierce holes in materials down to .001” in thickness can pose many problems for inexperienced companies. Thomas Engineering Company specializes in thin stamping and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, and we can offer high quality stamped products with none of the problems listed above.


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Quality Assurance for Parts Production and Rapid Prototyping in Minneapolis, MN

April 7th, 2016 · No Comments

With many metal stamping companies operating in the Minneapolis metro area, it may be difficult to choose which company is the best to work with your needs. At Thomas Engineering Company, we hold our standards for product, material, and service quality high. We are proud to provide quality assurance for all our customers for engineering, metal stamping, delivery, and rapid prototyping in Minneapolis, MN.

Our quality assurance for production and excellent customer service allows us to provide TEC customers with the best materials and production equipment available. TEC’s unsurpassed quality assurance is made possible by utilizing the following attributes of our production and service systems:

TEC is an ISO 9001:2008 registered manufacturer, a status we’ve earned with our documented and proven Quality System. Independently audited, this system guarantees the consistent production of reliable, precise, quality parts and prototypes.

Customers benefit from our use of non-contact programmable visual systems. Not only do these systems make our job easier and enhance our overall control over the production of parts and prototypes, non-contact systems also allow the constant monitoring of products and projected quality. With their virtually-instant generation of statistical data and production details, these systems eliminate human error and help us provide our customers with the highest quality available in the industry.

Specialized integrated Statistical Process Control (SPC) software is another aspect of our production that adds to our quality assurance for parts and prototypes at TEC. SPC software uses data created with our visual systems to provide our engineers and technicians with statistics and reports for TEC’s reference during production and our customer’s own reference for the part functional abilities.

Our quality assurance also means that with all our parts production and rapid prototyping, TEC always uses the highest grade raw materials available, specific to part demands.

With excellent customer service and our just-in-time” delivery pledge built into the quality assurance package, TEC is able to meet all our customers’ needs and schedule requirements.

We take pride in our ability to offer our customers the best quality assurance service and production packages in the Minneapolis metro area.

For more information about our quality assurance for parts production and rapid prototyping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at 763.533.1501 today.


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Bruderer® Presses Used in TEC Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 31st, 2016 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we take pride in working with the best equipment available. For the most accurate and efficient stamping procedures, our production floors utilize five different types of specialty Bruderer® presses ranging in size from 22 to 75 tons. Our collection of presses are able to perform with efficiency and precision in accordance with specifications for all types of TEC metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

The advantages of using Bruderer presses come from the quality of tool design and machine engineering. Bruderer is one of the oldest and most proficient press engineering companies in the world. Their products are some of the most reliable and innovative available to metal stamping companies across the globe.

The Bruderer presses we utilize daily at TEC include the following:

22.5 Ton Bruderer BSTA-200-60BE High Speed: One of our newest, this press operates at speeds of 100-1800 spm (strokes per minute) with an adjustable stroke range of 8–36 mm. Though it is our smallest, this Bruderer press can produce excellent results with efficiency and precision unequaled in many other machines this size.

60 Ton Aida Bruderer: This press, also a new addition to our operations floor, works at speeds from 70 to 700 spm with a press force of 600 kN. Because this press is a high performance, versatile machine with an adjustable stroke and improved mass balancing system, it can be used cost-effectively for many purposes.

30 Ton Bruderer Straight Side: The 30 ton Bruderer press comes in three variations of sizes and abilities. Our straight side press has a highly adjustable stroke and allows for a universal area of application to meet many metal stamping needs.

30 Ton Bruderer High Speed: A variation of the 30 ton straight side, this high speed press operates at ranges of 100-1500 spm.

75 Ton Bruderer Straight Side: Our largest Bruderer press, the BSTA 75 operates at speeds of 70-700 spm with an adjustable stroke of 20-76 mm. With an adjustable Power Ram and an Automatic Ram Lock, the 75 ton Bruderer is a reliable machine for many purposes. The pressure lubrication system recirculates continually, and a built-in heat exchanger keeps this machines running smoothly.

For more information about Thomas Engineering Company and our use of some of the most unparalleled presses in the world for precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at 763.533.1501.


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Benefits of Tape & Reel Packaging for Electrical Components With Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 23rd, 2016 · No Comments

Thomas Engineering Company is an industry leader in the production of electronic connectors and with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, serving one of the largest markets in metal engineering. These precision-stamped, electronic parts may face difficulties during shipping. To keep TEC electronic parts from sustaining any form of damage during shipping with our Just-in-Time Delivery guarantee, we use a form of packing called tape & reel packaging.

As a part of our value-added services, we provide automated tape & reel packaging for electronic connectors and other electronic components as requested by our customers. These components are most often used as the electronic connectors to join and adapt wires, terminals, circuits, and cables.

The most common parts that we use tape & reel packaging for are terminal blocks, posts/banana connectors, insulation displacement connectors, plug-and-socket connectors, blade connector, ring/spade connectors and battery contacts.

What is Tape & Reel?

Tape & reel packaging is relatively new packing technology. Electronic components and other small parts are fed into separate pockets that fit the design specifications of each part exactly. These pockets are molded into an air-tight, dust-free plastic tape that serves to protect each pocket, hold the part in place, and organize the entirety of the parts into a connected string. This tape has a row of sprocket holes along one edge, allowing for indexing. The tape is then machine-rolled around a clean, strong plastic reel. The tape & reel system much resembles a film tape & reel device.

Why Tape & Reel?

The advantages in using tape & reel packaging include:

Allows precise orientation of parts to our customers’ assembly line equipment

Packaging adaptability to electronic component specifications

Tape protects parts from contaminants, damage and electrostatic discharge (ESD) during shipping

Reel provides rigid protection of tape and parts during storage, shipping, and handling

Our tape & reel packaging capabilities save our customers time and money while effectively protecting important electronic components and parts during assembly and shipping. For more information about our packaging abilities and our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at 763-533-1501.


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Materials Used in TEC Rapid Prototyping in Minneapolis, MN

March 18th, 2016 · No Comments

When our clients need a part design to be finalized and processed with computer aided design (CAD) technology, our production-quality rapid prototyping services at Thomas Engineering Company offer the perfect outlet to streamline the process and eliminate handling complications with a separate company. If you need a part ready for production within a matter days, taking advantage of our rapid prototyping in Minneapolis, MN may be the optimal choice for you.

Using CAD technology and a range of highly-capable stamping machinery, our rapid prototyping services can create virtually any form of part prototype. For a prototype that is completely true to and interchangeable with the final parts produced, we use the same materials for prototypes as we do for production-quality parts.

Stainless steel is one of the most common materials used in TEC parts production. Because stainless steel contains greater amounts of chromium oxide than carbon steel, a protective outer film prevents corrosive oxygen from reaching the metal surface. Stainless steel maintains the structural properties while resisting corrosion.

Copper is also used regularly at TEC for its high conductivity, both electrically and thermally. Additionally, copper is a soft material, and many of our micro electronic parts can be stamped from copper.

Titanium is a metal alloy used in rapid prototyping for its high strength and low density. Titanium alloys made with iron, vanadium, and aluminum produce parts able to withstand exposure to high stress, heat, and corrosive materials.

Brass is an alloy composed primarily of copper and zinc. The levels of each metal ingredient can be altered to create brass types with many different properties. Brass is often used in metal stamping for parts that demand a high durability and where sparking should be prevented (i.e. electrical components).

Inconel is an encompassing term for superalloys comprised largely of nickel and chromium, along with other metals including austenite (iron), copper, manganese, molybdenum, aluminum, tin, and more. Inconel alloys are used for parts that must withstand environments of high corrosion, pressure, and friction.

While these metals are used most often at TEC for rapid prototyping, we work according to our customers’ distinctive and specialized needs, and have other options available for a unique part specification. For more information about our rapid prototyping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at 763.533.1501.

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In-Die Services Part III: Tapping In-Die and Off-Line with Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 18th, 2016 · No Comments

This is Part III of a three-part series covering In-Die Services. Part I covers spot welding, and Part II covers staking.

Creating a final product for our customers requires work beyond the initial operations in the stamping process. To complete expert parts, many companies must perform separate, additional operations. At Thomas Engineering Company, we offer specific in-die services that streamline the process and eliminate the need for extra time, costs, and machines with our metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

One operation we offer with our part production and finalization process is tapping. A vital operation for many parts, tapping is offered both in-die and off-line at TEC, ensuring the best option is available, depending on the part.

Understanding Tapping:

Tapping is part of a system used to create threads for screws inside a part (female threads), and the external pairing to those threads (male threads).

A tap cuts into a part to form the threads for the female half, for example, the nut in a nut and bolt system.  A die cuts into a separate piece to form the threads for the male half, for example, the bolt in a nut and bolt system.

Though tapping refers to only forming the female threads, in many cases both tap and die actions must be performed to complete a finished part.

Tap Types:

Bottoming taps cut with a continuously-cutting edge. The tip of a bottoming tap is not tapered and must be used on an already partially-threaded tap. These taps have between 1 and 1.5 threads, which allow them to cut into a blind hole (a drilled hole that does not break through the opposite side of a part).

Plug taps have slightly-tapered tips and cutting edges that allow the tapping of an untouched tap hole. Plug hole threads number from 3-5, and they are the most commonly-used tap types.

Taper taps are similar to plug taps but have a sharper taper at the tip and range from 8-10 threads. This tap cuts more gradually than other fast and aggressive taps, and works well for tapping small, more-fragile parts.

At Thomas Engineering Company, we understand the importance of a comprehensive finish for all parts, combined with the efficiency of an in-die, streamlined production process. For more information about our precision metal stamping, contact us at 763.533.1501.

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In-Die Services Part II: All About Staking With Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 11th, 2016 · 1 Comment

This is Part II of a three-part series covering In-Die Services. Part I covers spot welding and Part III covers tapping.

The services we offer beyond stamping here at Thomas Engineering Company are a vital part of our mission to provide our customers with high-quality, long-lasting precision stamped parts designed for their specific needs. All of these services add form and functional abilities to a part, and our in-die alteration capabilities can streamline the production process while completing necessary operations on the assembly line. One crucial function for some parts is our in-die staking ability with TEC’s precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Understanding the process of in-die staking requires a basic understanding of staking operations alone.


Staking is an operation that allows alterations like pins, contacts, and machine components to be connected to a part.

How it works:

The alteration component (a pin, contact, or other part) is connected to the stamped part with an interface fit.

  • Interface fits, also called press fits and friction fits, connect two parts using the friction that is created when the alteration component is pressed into the stamped part and the area is compressed.
  • A hole and boss system is used with interface fits to create a space for the protruding piece (the boss) of the alteration component to enter the space (the hole) in the stamped part.
  • When the boss enters the hole, a staking punch compresses the stamped part around the boss, forming a permanent join between the part and the alteration component.

Staking is a highly reliable method of attaching alterations to stamped parts where they are necessary for a part function. Staking is often performed off the assembly line with a specialized staking machine or by hand.

However, off-line staking increases time and costs in the production process, decreasing overall efficiency. Our in-die staking and assembly abilities at TEC eliminate the need for a separate stage in the production process as well as the expensive machinery needed for out-of-die staking. Instead, we are able to stake components inside the die on the same line as stamping operations.

Not only does this decrease costs and time, it also provides a higher quality, more precise part for our customers’ needs.

 To learn more about our in-die staking and our other in-die capabilities, contact us at Thomas Engineering Company for more information and precision metal stamping service in Minneapolis, MN, call us at 763.533.1501.

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In-Die Services Part I: Understanding Spot Welding With Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 3rd, 2016 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we believe in production efficiency and accuracy for every single part stamped and formed on our operation lines. To produce high quality parts, our precision metal stamping capabilities are a crucial part of the process; however, our value-added services are just as important when it comes to production quality. Our in-die operations are part of our cutting edge precision metal stamping process in Minneapolis, MN.

TEC is able to pare down production times during the manufacturing process, which allows us to offer high-quality parts faster and at a lower cost. While the use of progressive stamping presses adds greatly to a more efficient process, streamlined value-added services are also a large part of swift production.

Our customers benefit from TEC’s abilities to work within a die, using our in-die spot welding, in-die tapping, and in-die staking abilities.

Part I of this three-part series focuses specifically on the process of spot welding and how TEC trims up the process.

Spot welding is the joining together of two metal surfaces using high heat projected from electrical current resistance. The two pieces are held together with electrode-applied pressure while the heat is delivered. The amount of electrical current—which determines the heat in spot welding—must be in accordance with the metal’s properties: too great a current will melt through the weld spot and too little a current will form a weak bond.

There are three stages in a spot welding operation:

  1. Electrodes are brought to the surface of the metal parts and slight pressure is applied, pushing the part surfaces together.
  2. The correct current is forced to one spot between these parts, effectively heating the metal and welding the surfaces together.
  3. The current is cut off and the now single welded part is cooled through small holes in the electrodes. The part is left in place to fully cool before pressure is released.

Fundamentally, spot welders are made up of a power supply, an energy storage bank, a switch, a welding transformer, and welding electrodes. Our spot welding systems are built into the tooling process and we are able to perform in-die spot welding with each cycle of the stamping process. Our ability to seamlessly combine two separate processes with our in-die spot welding services requires a highly advanced, automated welding and stamping machine.

With our perfectly precise and complex technology, we are able to offer our customers an efficient production process for high quality parts.

For more information about our in-die spot welding and value-added services, contact us at Thomas Engineering Company. For information about our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, call us at (763) 533-1501.

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Basic Applications of Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

February 25th, 2016 · No Comments

One of the advanced techniques in the metal stamping industry today is precision metal stamping, a process that yields mass production of complex parts quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. By increasing the stamping speed and accuracy of a complex stamping application, a production tool can complete a part needing multiple features in a rapid series of operations. At Thomas Engineering Company, our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN serves to meet the needs of our customers to produce quality, complex parts.

To break down what we do with precision metal stamping, we’ve outlined the basic applications of the precision stamping process.

Intricate Precision Metalwork:

To stamp complex parts or unusual designs, the production process often involves intricate precision progressive tooling. With our in-die tapping, spot welding, staking operations, and our progressive die designs, we are able to produce intricately stamped and formed parts for automotive, electronics, and medical technology markets.

Micro-Precision Stamping:

Techniques used in micro-precision stamping allow us to stamp minute features such as bends, cuts, folds, and other stamping operations. Because we often work with very thin sheet metal, micro-precision stamping works to our advantage in many ways. It reduces costs with efficient tooling, yields results quickly, and allows more flexibility in part design throughout the process.

Prototype Design:

When creating a prototype with our rapid prototyping process, using precision metal stamping abilities often moves the process along quickly and efficiently. Because precision stamping and our computer aided design (CAD) software eliminate the need for dedicated tooling with most parts, we can use these capabilities in the prototype design process and provide our customers with a rapid production of the physical realization of their design.

Our technicians are expertly trained and highly experienced in our aspects of precision metal stamping, from super thin and micro to miniature and medium parts. For more information about Thomas Engineering Company and our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at 763-533-1501.

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