More About the Basics of Cutting with Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

January 27th, 2016 · No Comments

Cutting is one of the most common operations performed during metal stamping. While it’s categorized as a simple operation, cutting complexity must be taken into account. At Thomas Engineering Company, we recognize the importance of having an expert cutting system with our metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

We’ve covered some of the basic cutting operations used here at TEC, but learning more about the operation as a whole can help you understand how this aspect of our metal stamping operation works.


Understanding Sheet Metal

Sheet metal may seem like a rigid material, and it does often serve that purpose. However, we can’t deny the fact that metal is an elastomer, which means that it flexes and behaves like rubber. While some metals like high-strength steel are less flexible than others, all metals have failure point. During the cutting process, the line of the cut is where the blank is stressed to its respective failure point, severing the metal along that line. The clearance between the sections cutting the blank changes depending on the material, thickness, hardness, and edge quality of the metal being cut.

 The Cutting Process

  • Cold extruding happens after the initial hit from the punch deforms the blank slightly. The punch continues to push down and wedge its way into the blank, squeezing the separated sides of the blank out from under it.
  • Shear strength, the greatest force a blank can withstand without fracturing, is met during the cold extruding process, and the blank is severed.
  • The cut band/shear zone is created during the cold extruding process when shear strength is met. The cut band is the shiny area along the cut edge.
  • The breakout/fracture zone is also produced along the cut. Because the cold extruding process does not create a 90º-angle cut, the cut line has two sections: the angled, smooth cut band, and the adjacent rough breakout. The cut line can be altered after the procedure depending on the quality of edge desired.
  • Strippers are spring-loaded or urethane components that forcibly remove the cut blank from the punch. Because the cutting operation drops so much force onto a blank, the metal decompresses and can stick to the punch. Strippers efficiently and safely separate the blank and the punch.

Without a high quality system for performing cutting operations, many sheet metal blanks would be damaged or provide poorly cut parts. For more information about our metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501.

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Tools Built In-House for Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

January 20th, 2016 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we house some of the best engineers and tool technicians in the Minneapolis area. These members of our TEC team are vital to creating the equipment we need for optimal production value. To give our customers the best services possible, we design and build all of our tools in-house for our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

 Aside from some presses, data gathering technology, and part measurement machines, our engineers and technicians design and build all our tools, including:

 Stage tools: A stage tool is a single station tool used in standard stamping operations. Our stage tools are capable of piercing, forming, coining, and drawing in just a single hit. These tools are sturdy enough to take the necessary volume of parts, ranging up to 25,000 units per year.

 Compound tools: Compound tools are another type of single station tool designed in-house at TEC. These tools can handle more complex operations in one hit, such as piercing holes, cut-outs, and blank outs in parts. We use compound tools for both high and low volume orders; however, these tools work most efficiently with accessible hole locations and flat blanks.

Progressive tools: Of our multiple station tools designed and built here at TEC, our progressive tools are some of the most versatile models. By combining several operations into a single, multi-faceted tool, our progressive tools can perform all simple and complex stamping tasks, including tapping and welding as well as draw and cam stations. We can complete many parts after one single pass through a progressive tool.

 Progressive fast dies: Our progressive fast dies are a generic tool designed and built at TEC and used for small volume jobs, producing up to 50,000 parts a year. These dies work best for small, simple parts that do not require extensive forming. We quote the tool charge including adding, cutting, and forming to parts, along with value-added services for our customers.

Our tools are designed and built in-house and are some of the most reliable, high-quality equipment available. Contact us at Thomas Engineering Company for more information about our tools and our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

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Deburring Methods with Our Value-Added Services and Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

January 15th, 2016 · No Comments

While forming an exact, flexible, and durable part is the most important goal of metal stamping production, there are certain finishing procedures that are also important to the accurate function of a part. The stamping process can leave sharp edges and burrs on parts, which must be removed on some parts before the part can safely be used. Thomas Engineering Company provides expert deburring as a value-added service with our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Our in-house deburring capabilities include:

Vibratory bowls: Using grinding compounds and various glass and ceramic beads, we can tumble certain parts in our vibratory bowls, removing burrs, sharp or rough edges, and slivers.

In-die coining: TEC engineers can also incorporate coining stations into the progressive stamping process. With this method we can coin burrs and sharp edges on various sections of a part in the stamp.

We also work with external companies Arrow Cryogenics and Deburring Inc. for further deburring and finishing. Through these companies, we can offer our customers more options suitable for completing their orders, including:

Thermal deburring: This process uses a sealed chamber filled with oxygen and natural gas. The parts are placed in the chamber and the gas inside is ignited in a short, controlled combustion. The blast of heat affects the surface of the part, deburring and effectively finishing it without damaging the part’s integrity.

Hand deburring: Skilled technicians can manually deburr parts that are too fragile or small to treat using other types of finishing methods. Many precision stamped parts are deburred delicately by hand.

Centrifugal deburring: This tumbling process uses centrifugal G-force to finish parts. This method works quickly and can reach areas our vibratory bowls cannot.

Media blasting: Parts can also be finished using tumble blasters with rotating baskets and blasting tools. Sand and glass beads are blasted over the rotating parts to remove scale, polish, and deburr. Handheld sand blasters and blasters using ceramic and aluminum oxide are also used to finish parts.

Non-abrasive blasting: Some non-abrasive blasting materials are also used to finish parts, such as air blasting, dry-ice, and ice blasting.

We take pride in providing value-added services and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN from start to finish. For expertly-rendered and finished parts, contact us at Thomas Engineering Company today.

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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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