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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Cutting Operations Used with Metal Stamping Services in Minneapolis, MN

September 24th, 2015 · 4 Comments

Metal stamping production is a rather more general term than it would lead one to believe. The actual stamping and forming operations in the metal stamping industry are only a small part of the process for most metal engineering companies. At Thomas Engineering Company, our full selection of metal stamping services in Minneapolis, MN includes a range of value added, in-die, and subassembly services.

One set of operations vital to our metal stamping processes are all variations of metal cutting. Some basic cutting operations include:

Blanking generally means a piece of sheet metal is cut for further modifications. There are several variations of blanking, from the simplest undeveloped or semi-developed blank to the most complex fully-developed blank.

Trimming is also a common and necessary metal cutting operation. Trimming involves clipping off the edges of a fully or partially formed blank to give the edges their desired shape with minimal waste. In some cases, the trimmed scraps can be reused as blanks for smaller parts.

Piercing involves punching or stamping away pieces of a blank. The process is similar to blanking, but instead of saving the piece cut, the hole is saved and the “blank” is scrapped.

Shearing is similar to cutting with a pair of scissors. Of course, the shearing machine itself doesn’t look like giant scissors, but the physical operation and stress point on the metal is the same. Since shearing cuts along straight lines, this operation is used to cut simple, straight-edged blanks.

Lancing cuts metal from the blank without completely separating a section from the larger piece. This method slices or splits without leaving a wasted slug. In progressive stamping operations, lancing is used to create a part carrier, allowing the part to move freely in the forming die.

Notching cuts in the same way as trimming operations, but is used to leave curved or notched edges around a metal blank. This is most effective before the cut metal blank is formed.

Without these basic cutting operations, finalizing production with our precision metal stamping, sub-assembly, value added, or in-die forming services would be impossible. For more information on our cutting and metal stamping services in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at Thomas Engineering Company.

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How Dies are Used with Our Metal Stamping Services in Minneapolis, MN

September 15th, 2015 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, our metal stamping services in Minneapolis, MN revolves around the use of dies. Without die technology, we would not be able to offer our customers our most basic service, not to mention our more complex in-die spot welding, tapping, and staking services. Our precision metal stamping services rely on dies for cutting and forming minute parts vital to the automotive, medical, and electronic industries.

We want our customers to know as much as possible about the process used to produce their parts. How we use dies is the important part of that process.

Die Basics:

  • Dies are a metal forming technology designed to stamp or cut out a certain shaped part.
  • The most basic elements of a die are its two halves: the punch and the die cavity. The punch forces a metal sheet (blank) into the die cavity, cutting or forming the desired part.
  • A die set consists of the punch, the die cavity, and the guiding metal plates called die shoes.

 Size and Material:

  • Dies need to be made from durable tool steels that can withstand the shock of a push thrusting the punch into the cavity with enough force to alter the metal blank. Dies must be built of high quality materials in order to stamp and form high quality steel parts.
  • Most dies are made from tool steels that can be specially hardened, but some sections of a die can be made from solid carbide or other wear-resistant materials.
  • Our dies range in size from our smallest, used to form micro-electronic parts, to our largest, used to stamp and form automotive parts.

 Cutting and Forming:

  • Dies perform two basic functions: cutting and forming.
  • Cutting dies separate a part by placing it between the punch and die that are forced together with a small gap between the two (called cutting clearance) where the part is cut and created.
  • The problem with cutting dies is the high intensity shock that is continually imposed on the die itself. Many dies have dampeners designed to absorb this excess energy.
  • Forming dies form and shape a metal blank into a formed shape. The shape of the part depends on the design of the punch and cavity combination.
  • Many dies combine forming and cutting into one tool or into a progressive die.

For more information on dies and metal stamping services in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at Thomas Engineering Company.

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All About In-Die Spot Welding Provided With Our Metal Stamping Services In Minneapolis, MN

September 9th, 2015 · No Comments

Our production lines at Thomas Engineering Company are unique in their ability to provide precision stamped parts with efficient in-die forming processes. Our technology is able to efficiently combine multiple processes with in-die staking, tapping, and, in some instances, spot welding. These operations are all part of our high quality, precision metal stamping services in Minneapolis, MN.

In-die spot welding is one of our most time-efficient streamlined processes here at TEC. The process combines stamping and spot welding for select parts into one seamless operation, substantially reducing the time needed to complete a part.

Spot welding alone is a complex method of welding small areas quickly and effectively. The process requires extreme precision and accurate application of power depending on material resistance, sheet thickness, and size of the spot.

Process of spot welding:

  • Spot welding is a direct application of electrical current to a weld spot on a metal sheet. The material resistance to the electrical current creates a spot of heat that bonds two metals (the sheet and the piece to be attached) together.
  • The amount of electrical energy applied to the weld spot depends on the properties of the metal that determine the metal’s resistance to the current.
  • Too little energy applied to a weld spot will form a poor bond, while too much energy applied can melt beyond the desired weld spot or burn a hole through the sheet.

Spot welding machines consist of five basic parts:

  • The power supply provides energy to the capacitor bank, which stores energy.
  • The switch releases the stored energy into the welding transformer, which ramps up the current and decreases the voltage.
  • This means the switch can handle a lower current while the spot welder can still deliver a high energy weld.
  • Finally, the welding electrodes concentrate the pressure and energy released into the desired spot.


Spot welding can quickly and accurately bind two metals in an exact spot. The process gives the advantage of reaching spaces and corners, fast bondage, and the elimination of human error. Our in-die spot welding offers the even greater advantage of combining spot welding with in-die forming and stamping. This process saves our customers the cost of the energy and time needed for multiple operations.

If you’re interested in our in-die spot welding or other metal stamping services in Minneapolis, MN contact us at Thomas Engineering Company today.

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Common Automotive Parts Made With Metal Stamping In Minneapolis, MN

August 27th, 2015 · No Comments

Trains, automobiles, planes, and even the machines that put these things together have hundreds of metal parts from big to small and sturdy to fragile. At Thomas Engineering Company, we produce an extensive array of automotive parts in standard production or specialized prototyping with our engineered metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

Some of the most important parts of a car, truck, or bus come off our production lines, including the parts that guarantee your safety and the engine’s function. The following are some common automotive parts produced with metal stamping technology.

In the braking system, metal stamped parts include anti-lock brake systems (ABS), parking brakes, foundation brakes, brake modules and ECUs, grommets, covers, and caps.

Metal stamped parts are also vital in forming the transmission and chassis in a vehicle. These parts include rotary valves, valve bodies, inlets, seals, actuators, and piston stampings.

The emissions and pollution control systems of a vehicle also include important parts made with metal stamping technology. For example, oxygen sensors and sensor wire harnesses, EGR, and urea injection and shields.

Without metal stamped parts, most cars would not have fuel injection technology, including fuel rails and pumps, direct injection, fittings, injector cups, caps, shells, and housings.

Metal stamped parts are also used in cooling systems for thermostats, fittings, connectors and housings, and shells and flanges.

 Without metal stamped parts, your vehicle would not have air bags to keep you safe in the event of a crash. Air bag safety systems use stamped inflators, diffusers, modules, and initiators.

Metal stamped parts are integral in the electrical system, often forming the housing and armatures of the motor, the sockets, reflectors, and shields of the lighting systems, and many sensor housings and core tubes.

Without metal stamping technology, most cars would lack the parts necessary for safe function of the brakes, motor, cooling system, fuel injection, and transmission. Not to mention the luxuries of air bags, lights, sensors, and emission control. At Thomas Engineering Company, we provide metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN and offer critical automotive parts off of our production line.

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Twelve Basic Operations for Metal Stamping In Minneapolis, MN

August 1st, 2015 · No Comments

Metal stamping is an old practice that has come far over the years, and many different operations can now be combined into a few stages called progressive stamping. Though progressive stamping uses multiple stations in a single tool, the process still relies on the basic functions of stamping. At Thomas Engineering Company, we use these basic operations in combination to manufacture premium metal stampings in Minneapolis, MN.

There are twelve standard functions involved in metal stamping when the more-complicated stages and in-die modifications are disassembled.

  1. Blanking: a piece of metal is cut from a sheet for a specific, blank shape ready for further alterations
  2. Bending: the metal is bent on a straight line for sharp angles
  3. Flanging: the metal is bent over a curve for softer undulations
  4. Drawing: a cut blank piece is stretched to change the shape without altering the stability of the material
  5. Ironing: the metal is pressed and stretched on a vertical surface (used in making cans and cartridge cases)
  6. Stretching: a blank is altered by increasing the surface area with tension, but there is no inward movement of the blank’s edges
  7. Necking: the diameter of a piece is gradually reduced (for example, in a tube or vessel-container)
  8. Embossing: a metal blank is pressed or stretched to form slight depressions and decorations\
  9. Coining: a piece is compressed into a shape and pattern (used in making coins)
  10. Curling: the metal is formed into a tube or tubular profile
  11. Hemming: a metal edge is folded over itself multiple times to increase thickness and eliminate sharp edges
  12. Piercing and Cutting: the metal is punctured or trimmed either during or after any other operations

These operations may seem simple, but they form the basis of all products made with metal stamping. In combination, these processes can create some of the most complex and durable parts in the engineering industry. For reliable metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company today.

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Thomas Engineering Company in Minneapolis, MN Presents at 2015 BIOMEDevice Show in Boston

July 28th, 2015 · No Comments

The BIOMEDevice Show is a national trade show for innovative medical technology. Every spring, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center hosts a series of conferences, exposés, and seminars revealing and highlighting the newest material science and cutting-edge manufacturing systems. Thomas Engineering Company in Minneapolis, MN was proud to join these giants of medical and industrial science at BIOMEDevice Boston 2015.

Thomas Engineering manufactures for a variety of markets needing metal parts, including electronic, automotive, and of course, medical. Our precision stamping systems for medical device components have allowed us to expand our abilities to provide our customers with an almost limitless range of rapid prototypes.

We also work with the highest quality materials tailored to fit the needs of any stamped, cut, or cast part. While our products are often used in medical devices in hospitals and surgery rooms, these parts can also play a part in the making of other technology on the floor of the BIOMEDevice Show.

Our products could even be used in the machines that go into the making of things like MTD Micro Molding Inc.’s micromolded parts or somewhere in the process that makes Photofabrication Engineering Inc.’s custom etched components, parts that are so tiny and durable they can fit inside the human body.

We work with such a wide range of parts—large and small, intricate and simple—that our products can provide for almost any other medical science exhibitor at BIODMEDevice Boston. We regularly make new prototypes and build on our old ideas to fit them to the rapidly growing medical technology. Our products often form the backbone of the manufacturing processes behind today’s medical innovation.

Thomas Engineering Company in Minneapolis, MN will also show at the San Jose BIOMEDevice Show on December 2-3, 2015. Check out more news on the 2015 Boston BIOMEDevice show, and find out more about the upcoming San Jose show.

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How Our Value Added Services in Minneapolis, MN can Save Money and Hassle

July 22nd, 2015 · 1 Comment

At Thomas Engineering Company, we provide primary part production services including prototyping, precision stamping, and in-die spot welding. We also provide secondary services for our customers’ convenience. Our value added services in Minneapolis, MN make it easier for our customers to realize the potential of our products.

Our value-added services take our parts a step closer to being completely integrated into our customer’s product assembly operations. These services let our customers bring in finished parts for us to put on the production line.

Our precision work services include in-die spot welding, spot welding, in-die tapping, and off-line tapping. This means we can alter the parts in the stamping process with in-die welding and tapping, streamlining the production process. We also perform these operations off the production line.

We continue to perfect the parts off the production line, trimming and shaping parts to function flawlessly. Our deburring services remove rough edges and burrs on our products. Our heat treating services strengthen parts without making them brittle or likely to warp.

We also provide various sub-assembly services, including plating and finishing, packaging, tape and reel packaging, and in-die staking and assembly. In these processes, we take finished parts and ready them completely to be shipped and integrated into our customer’s assembly lines.

Many of our products need very specific packaging and care before getting shipped, and we’ve developed customized processes for each product. Because we also work with our customers to develop new prototypes and parts, we continually develop new packaging processes to fit our customers’ needs.

We provide a system of primary, secondary, and finalizing metal production processes for our customers’ orders. Contact Thomas Engineering Company for post-production value added services in Minneapolis, MN today.

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