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Rapid Prototyping With CAD Data For Precision Metal Stamping In Minneapolis, MN

January 6th, 2016 · No Comments

In the past, when a part was designed on paper, metal workers could spend weeks, even months, rendering a prototype of the design by hand or with remedial tools. Today, we have the great advantages of rapid prototyping using computer aided design (CAD) data to quickly and accurately bring a design to life. At Thomas Engineering Company, we offer all our customers the benefits of rapid prototyping for our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

CAD software was invented in the late 1960s; its invention is attributed to Pierre Bezier, a French engineer at ParisTech working in partnership with Renault. Soon after its creation, the technology was used in commercial applications for automotive, aerospace, and electronic industries.

Today, CAD is used to create data files for transferring, storing, and processing designs with computer-aided-design—computer-aided-manufacturing (CAD-CAM) software. Our own engineers can take a customer’s CAD file and work with them to begin processing a rapid prototype.

Generating an original CAD file begins with data-gathering to build a geometric computer image. This is done through processing a 3D viable object in a CAD workstation or by scanning sides of a 2D image that can be rendered three-dimensional with CAD software.

The CAD system then estimates the interior structure of the scanned object with simple mathematic formulas. To execute the production of the physical prototype through 3D printing, additive manufacturing, and other rapid prototyping processes, CAD software must virtually slice the object into two-dimensional cross sections, essentially using an inverse system of layering.

With our customer’s CAD file, we can then produce the physical prototype through our CAD-CAM modeling software. Within days we can offer our customers a tangible beginning to realizing their part design and thus their project design as a whole.

Contact us at Thomas Engineering Company to bring your part to life with our rapid prototyping services and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

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Connecting Customers Across The Nation To TEC’s Metal Stamping In Minneapolis, MN

December 30th, 2015 · No Comments

Though Minneapolis is one of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., its borders only stretch so far. Because so many industries outside the reach of Minnesota form a market for the parts produced at Thomas Engineering Company, we use a network of sales representatives across the U.S. to work with our customers. These sales representatives connect our customers back to us, giving them access to our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Our sales representatives know our company inside and out, and many have spent more than 25 years building relationships with our engineers, mechanics, management, and customers. Even our newest remote sales representative has already worked with us for 4 years.

From our production lines to you…

Our customer service representatives act as essential middle-men between our customers and our main company building in Minneapolis, MN. These reps work with customers in each industry we provide services for, whether it’s electrical, automotive, or medical.

Though our representatives are not specifically trained to answer detailed technical questions for our customers, they’ve developed an indepth knowledge of our capabilities in metal stamping and of the metal working industry as a whole.

Many of our representatives also work for machining, casting, and molding companies within the metal parts industry and can offer our customers an even wider web of connections between the supplier and our operation lines.

Beyond the sale…

The primary goal of a sales representative is to help to complete the order or project for the customer, while working with TEC. Our representatives go the extra mile and follow up after each part of the sale process.

If you need a prototype, your sales representative will be there to make sure you’re satisfied with the parts produced by TEC. Representatives work to make sure customer expectations are met with quality parts, timely production, and fast delivery.

From the beginning of a sale introduction to the final delivery and review of the product, our sales representatives will be there for each customer. Find a rep near you today or contact us at Thomas Engineering Company for more information about our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

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Why Robots Aren’t Everything For Metal Stamping In Minneapolis, MN

December 23rd, 2015 · No Comments

A growing concern for some in the stamping industry is the decreasing number of specialized jobs in the manufacturing process. The highly advanced machinery designed for precision stamping has replaced the human hand in most stages of production. There are, however, still many careers available in the industry, and without the people in these positions, Thomas Engineering Company would not be able to offer high quality precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN and across the U.S.

While machines are perfect for highly-efficient stamping and tooling on the production line, there are several jobs behind the scenes that only hardworking, intuitive people can fill.

Process engineers are critical for dictating the steps between a blank sheet of metal and a final stamped and altered part. Any mistakes in the progression of the metal could lead to a wasted blank or worse.

Die designers create the tools used in our stamping and cutting dies. They are responsible for the accurate prediction of how each blank sheet type will behave, the mechanical motion of the parts, and the amount of waste. They are also responsible for the production of long-lasting dies.

Diemakers work with die designers to construct the tool themselves. After assembly, diemakers are responsible for testing each die’s function and reliability.

Machinists work with designers and diemakers to cut components of a die from the chosen materials. They are responsible for the correct dimensions of each component.

Maintenance technicians work on the production floor tending to any broken dies, cleaning and maintaining dies, and solving any problems with the machinery.

These metal stamping positions demand a trained mind, wise intuition, passion, and intelligence—in short, the people that fill these positions could never be replaced, even by today’s most advanced robotics and machinery.

Contact us today at Thomas Engineering Company for a first-hand experience with our team’s abilities and their work with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

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Aspects Of Heat Treating With Our Value-Added Services And Metal Stamping In Minneapolis, MN

November 24th, 2015 · 1 Comment

In the metal working industry, some of the biggest struggles technicians have to overcome are combating metal fatigue, brittleness, and weak or soft metal. The key to yielding a durable yet flexible stamped part is  finding the right balance between the part’s different physical properties. At Thomas Engineering Company, we use heat treating as one of our value-added services to yield high quality parts with our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

One of the most common heat treatment techniques applied to metal stamped parts is tempering. Tempering (or metallurgy) is a treatment used on iron-based alloys like stainless steel. This treatment is done after the hardening process to increase the toughness of a part while decreasing excess hardness.

The terms “toughness” and “hardness” fall into the category of specific parts of metallurgy physics. Toughness and hardness make up some of an optimal balance of parts taken into account for each metal stamped product. Here is a breakdown of the different terms used to describe a metal’s properties:

  • Toughness is a metal’s resistance to fracture. It is almost directly linked to strength, and will decrease when the strength of a metal increases.
  • Strength breaks down into tensile strength, yield strength, and shear strength. The basic metallurgy definition of strength is a metal’s resistance to breaking or other permanent damage.
  • Hardness is used in metallurgy to describe a metal’s resistance to surface scratching.
  • Brittleness of a metal is the measure of how far it can bend before breaking. The ability to bend is measured with plasticity and elasticity.
  • Plasticity describes the malleability of a metal that allows it to bend without breaking and without returning to its original shape.
  • Elasticity is related to the malleability of a metal as well, but measures the material’s ability to bend and return to its original shape.

These terms are physical parts of a metal alloy that equal its measure of quality and measure of use. Our heat treating value-added services adjust these factors to yield the most balanced materials for our customers’ needs. Contact us at Thomas Engineering Company for more information on our value-added services and metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

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How Thomas Engineering Company Uses Progressive Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

November 17th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Metal stamping technology has come a long way since early stamping machines, tooling dies, and other methods of assembly. In the late 19th century, early forms of progressive stamping known as successive gang cutting were introduced into the metal stamping industry. Since then, the progressive stamping press has grown into what we use today at Thomas Engineering Company for our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

The progressive stamping press grew rapidly out of necessity during the turn of the century and even more during the World Wars. By the 1970s, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) branch in Grand Rapids, MI began promoting the designs of Ed Stouten and Arnold Miedema, partners of the Capitol Engineering Company.

 What it does:

Progressive metal stamping evolved from necessity; because, it’s one of the most efficient ways of streamlining the metal stamping process. A single progressive stamping press can eliminate the need for large quantities of single press and die machines. Our progressive stamping systems cover cutting, bending, flanging, blanking, and slotting operations. Progressive stamping presses offer rapid production of high quality parts, which saves our customers both time and money.

How it works:

Our progressive stamping production works by feeding a strip blank into the press, with each station performing a different single cut or other operation.  Each section of the blank is altered in an exact process, as each section is moved along with rapid precision in the stamping tool. To maintain such precise advancement from station to station, “pilot” pieces shaped like bullets or cones enter pre-made holes along the blank strip. These pilots lock the blank into the exact place before each station performs its operation.

The metal stamping industry would not be where it is today if not for Stouten and Miedema. These men’s contributions to the industry have vastly enhanced the stamping process, especially in terms of our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN. Take advantage of progressive stamping production and contact us at Thomas Engineering Company today.

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Important Electrical Components Manufactured with Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

November 9th, 2015 · 1 Comment

It might sound hard to believe, but Thomas Engineering Company has been producing high-quality precision components for the electronics industry sine 1962! To keep up with the rapidly changing world of electronic technology, we’ve maintained high quality equipment, state of the art production methods, and top-of-the-line engineers. Today, we remain industry leaders in electronic connector component production with our capabilities in thin-slotting and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

We specialize in stamping parts for electronic connectors and other close-tolerance components. Some of these parts are key in producing each of these major types of electrical connecters needed to join and adapt between circuits, terminals, wires, or cables.

Terminal blocks, boards, or strips are used to connect individual wires without physically joining the ends. These connectors often join together items in one enclosure and are flexible enough to work with an expansive scope of wire sizes and terminal counts. We provide parts of terminal block connecters that range from the largest to the smallest sizes.

Posts and banana connectors are basic forms of electrical connectors that are often used in audio and test equipment. These simple connectors bind bare wires to a post that can then be connected to an adaptor or power source.

Insulation displacement connectors work even if the wires connected are still covered in insulation. Removing insulation is time consuming, but these connectors can be rapidly assembled, bypassing the need for insulation stripping by slicing directly through to the conductor in a single stroke.

Plug and socket connectors are some of the most well-known connectors outside electrician and engineer general knowledge. These connectors use a male and female plug to bind two conductors together. Common examples include VGA and USB plugs, headphone jacks, and common household appliance electrical plugs.

Blade, ring, and spade connectors work in similar ways to connect a differently-shaped section connector to a receptacle. Blade connectors connect into the receptacle with a flat or crimped conductive blade. Ring and spade connectors conduct with an attached bolt or screw.

These are some of the most common and simply-categorized kinds of electronic connectors. Our production lines make the small parts that help complete the different types of connectors. For more information about electronic parts production with precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at Thomas Engineering Company.

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Find TEC At The 2015 Minnesota Medtech Conference For Medical Assemblies Metal Stamping In Minneapolis, MN

October 26th, 2015 · No Comments

This fall, LifeScience Alley and MD&M Minneapolis are pairing up their annual events to present the Minnesota Medtech Week, from November 4th to 5th,2015. The event will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center and the conferences will run from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Don’t miss Thomas Engineering Company’s exhibition at this brand new event. We will be set up in the precision TEC section (booth 1358), showing the technology we use for precision medical metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

As a precision metal stamping company, we work to produce some important parts in the medical assemblies industry. Without our stamping technology, most medical devices would not be able to function or even be assembled. Some common parts made with precision metal stamping for the medical assemblies industry include:

  • Surgical steel tool components: Blades, knives, scissors, and other surgical tools are vital to performing successful, safe surgery. Precision metal stamping technology makes the production of extremely high quality tools possible for the medical industry.
  • Instrument components: Medical technology has come a long way in the past 30 years, and much of the machinery available today involves precision metal stamping during assembly. Most laparoscopic, endoscopic, and arthroscopic instruments and technology are made with precision metal stamped parts.
  • Implantable instrument components: Most doctors want their patients to have access to the best medical treatments available, especially if those treatments involve implanting an instrument inside the body. Precision stamping helps form some of the most highly advanced implantable instruments, including cardio, neuro, and orthopedic devices.

Many more important medical instruments and machines use components formed with precision metal stamping, and most of them will be exhibited through different organizations, companies, and technology corporations at the Minnesota Medtech Week this November. Don’t forget to stop by TEC’s booth for some great information on our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.


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All About PPAP And Why We Use It With Our Metal Stamping In Minneapolis, MN

October 19th, 2015 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we strive to offer our clients the highest quality parts in the industry, and so we take changing industry standards seriously. To keep up with ever-increasing international production quality standards, we utilize the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) for all of our automotive stamped parts. This standardized process plays a vital part in our design and production qualities for metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

The PPAP is a system of verification used in the aerospace and automotive industry to help standardize production and finalized parts. The process is regulated each year by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG). The general approval standards developed by the AIAG through the PPAP is a part of the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP). This system helps customers and industry regulators communicate product needs with our engineers and operations management.

The PPAP covers a range of important quality control verifications and industry standards, including, but not limited to:

  • Design, material, and engineering submissions
  • Initial studies, studies during engineering, and finalized conclusions
  • Design, laboratory, and compliance records and documentation
  • Process, dimensional, and material plans and diagrams
  • Engineering documents and approval
  • Documented tests, warrants, calculations, and processed paperwork
  • Failure Mode and Effect Analyses (FMEA) for design and processes
  • Sample and master products

A more extensive overview and information resource for the PPAP can be found here. The forms and information for a full PPAP report are categorized and summarized as a Part Submission Warrant (PSW). Some of our customers have specific requirements for their parts after the PSW has been approved by the AIAG. To meet these requirements, we use the standards detailed on the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) website.

Though not every one of our PPAP reports is the same for our products, we work with our basic report requirements to help our customers establish their own requirements in line with the AIAG standards. For more information and metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at Thomas Engineering Company.

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Materials Commonly Used in Metal Stamping at Thomas Engineering Company in Minneapolis, MN

October 15th, 2015 · No Comments

We often talk about quality steel for our metal stamping services here at Thomas Engineering Company. While it’s true that we use the optimal materials suited to each part, we can also work with a range of other sheet metal materials. At TEC, we take the time to work with our customers to build a prototype and choose the right material with our metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Within the realm of sheet metal, there are many kinds of metals available. From types of steel to gold, from widths of 7 gauge to foil leaf, and from strip sheets to coiled sheets, metal stamping materials come in all shapes and sizes.

Common Materials:

Stainless steel comes in three grades. Grade 304 is the most commonly used in industrial stamping because it offers the best resistance to corrosion in ratio to formability and elasticity. Grade 316 steel provides more resistance and strength at higher temperatures, and grade 410 steel offers high heat treatability with a lower corrosion resistance.

Aluminum is a cost effective, light metal used for parts needing greater flexibility and lightweight strength. Different grades of aluminum offer different levels of strength, corrosion resistance, and weldability. Of the four most common grades of aluminum, grade 1100-H14 is chemically the purest, and grade 6061-T6 is one of the strongest and most resistant to corrosion.

Less Common Materials:

Iron is increasingly becoming a material of the past within the metal industry. Though iron is one of the strongest pure materials available, it’s also one of the heaviest. Iron automotive parts like transmission casings and supports are often redesigned to utilize lighter, cheaper aluminum alloys. However, iron parts are still often used in electrical applications for their high magnetic permeability.

Titanium has the advantage of flexibility in terms of forming strong alloys with other metals. Industrial and aerospace grade titanium is alloyed with iron, aluminum, vanadium, molybdenum, and steel to produce strong and light metal sheets. Titanium alloys are becoming more commonly-used in automotive and medical industrial production as well, but it is still a more expensive material than steel or aluminum.

Along with these types of sheet metal, even lesser-used materials include brass, copper, tin, nickel, silver, gold, and platinum. At Thomas Engineering Company, we work with you to choose the right metal for the part with our metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN. Call us today.

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The Anatomy and Importance of a Good Press For Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

September 25th, 2015 · No Comments

Most metals used to make high-quality parts are made of extremely hard materials. A great deal of force is needed to cold-form these materials into the products that our customers need. To produce a stable metal stamped part, a good press system is crucial. Without a reliable stamping press, our products would quickly become lower quality, unstable pieces. At Thomas Engineering Company, we emphasize the need for a quality press with our quality metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Presses function as the power behind each die or cutting system. They provide the extreme force needed to shape and cut metal blanks. Today, most presses can range anywhere from 10 to 75 tons in the amount of force applied.

Almost all presses fall into three categories: crank-drive, servo-drive, or hydraulic-drive. Crank-drives use a crankshaft system to push the press onto the bolster plate, stamping the metal between with the die. Servo-drives gather energy from a flywheel or a servomotor. Hydraulic-drive presses use fluid pressure and piston systems to deliver force.

While each press can function at different speed cycles, they all have two basic parts: the ram and the bolster plate. The ram is the moving part of the press that delivers the force to the lower half of the press: the bolster plate. The two die halves are attached to the ram and to the bolster plate. When the ram and plate meet, the force of the press forms or cuts the metal into the specifications determined by the die.

Most presses are adjustable to accommodate different thicknesses of metal blanks. The stroke length is the distance the ram travels before it meets the bolster plate, and the adjustable shut height is the distance between the bottom of the ram and the top of the bolster plate, or, the actual distance available to fit metal blanks between the two parts of the press.

While the shut height can be adjusted, the stroke length is fixed on some presses and adjustable on others. For example, tryout presses act as trial systems to give die builders information on force, adjustability, and potential problems.

A quality, task-appropriate press is vital to producing strong stamped parts. Without a good press, even a perfect die can be rendered useless. Contact Thomas Engineering Company for quality metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

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