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

April 24th, 2017 · No Comments

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

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

International Organization for Standardization

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

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

Quality System

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

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

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

April 14th, 2017 · No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

April 5th, 2017 · No Comments

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

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


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


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

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

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The History and Growth of Industrial Just-in-Time Delivery and Its Role in the History of Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 28th, 2017 · No Comments

In the 1960s and 1970s, a new approach to manufacturing began its introduction into the global industrial world. This approach was first established in Japan when major companies like Toyota created new methods of cutting down waste, time, and cost of production. Leaning out the manufacturing process in general was possible because of the concept of Just-in-Time (JIT). The idea of supplying parts as they are demanded is now a crucial part of most industrial manufacturing companies across the globe. At Thomas Engineering Company, our own ability to provide our customers with Just-in-Time Delivery  is all thanks to JIT manufacturing and the role it played in the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

After WWII, Japan struggled economically with low funds and few natural resources along with a lack of space to utilize for manufacturing. The Japanese industry had to overcome these problems to survive, and ultimately, leaning out manufacturing processes were the result.


The idea of JIT manufacturing relies on the demand of a product. In today’s industrial world, producing things only when they are needed makes perfect sense, but in the past, the industry was set up based on stockpiling inventory and allowing customers to “shop” for their needs. Unfortunately, the older methods left behind waste in the form of unused parts gathering dust and production materials waiting to fulfill their purpose.

When JIT production was slowly adapted throughout global industries, waste became less prominent at each stage of the process. Toyota is often recognized as the forerunner of JIT manufacturing and lean production, but the concept quickly spread throughout the automotive industry during the 1970s and 1980s. While JIT clashed with another new manufacturing concept—manufacturing resource planning (MRP), a process that used new computer technology to predict and plan the trajectory of resource uses and needs—the idea of JIT prevailed by the early 1990s.

Since the mid-1990s, the global market as a whole has adjusted to the patterns of JIT production. Adapting JIT manufacturing systems into TEC production has allowed us to provide our customers with the benefits of Just-in-Time Delivery services.

With our Just-in-Time Delivery, your schedule is honored as an important part of TEC production. For more information about our Just-in-Time Delivery and how the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, shaped our JIT production techniques, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Thomas Engineering Company Earns Governor’s Safety Award

March 22nd, 2017 · 1 Comment

Thomas Engineering Company Earns Governor’s Safety Award

Thomas Engineering Company, a contract manufacturer of metal stampings, will be recognized for excellence in workplace safety and health at the Governor’s Safety Award luncheon on May 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Thomas Engineering Company is one of 266 employers to be honored through the awards program, coordinated by the Minnesota Safety Council.

“We thank Thomas Engineering Company for its commitment to safety,” said Paul Aasen, president of the Minnesota Safety Council. “These efforts protect workers, strengthen the organization and benefit the community as a whole.”

“Safety is a core value here at Thomas Engineering Company. Our people are the organizations greatest assets. All employees at Thomas Engineering Company work together as a team to ensure a safe work environment. We are very proud of our safety record and feel honored to receive the Governor’s Safety Award. ” Tim Aberwald, President of Thomas Engineering Company.

 Since 1934, the annual Governor’s Safety Awards program has honored Minnesota Employers with exceptional safety performance. Applicants are judged on several years of injury data as it compares with their industry’s national statistics, and on their progress in implementing a comprehensive safety program. Winner are recognized at three levels:

  • Meritorious Achievement (115 winners): Incidence rates that are better than the industry average for at least three years, and a score between 50 and 74 and 100-point safety program evaluation scale.
  • Outstanding Achievement (108 winners): Continuing improvement and/or continuing outstanding record with incident rates that are 51%-91% better than the industry average, and a score between 75 and 90 on the safety program evaluation scale.
  • Award of Honor (43 winners): Incidence rates at least 91% better than the industry average, and a score between 91 and 100 on the safety program evaluation scale.

Thomas Engineering Company received a Meritorious Achievement Award.

The Governor’s Safety Award luncheon is part of the 83rd Minnesota Safety & Health Conference, coordinated by the Minnesota Safety Council. The conference is the oldest and largest gathering of workplace safety and health professionals in the region. The Minnesota Safety Council, founded in 1928, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Minnesota by preventing unintentional injuries (“accidents”).

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Strengthening Materials for High Quality Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 16th, 2017 · No Comments

The sheet metals we use at Thomas Engineering Company range from high performance stainless steels to aluminum and copper alloys. These materials have been altered to improve their basic characteristics and to create additional properties that render the metal viable for industrial use. The process of treating sheet metals used for precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, begins with the atomically-pure material.

Pure metals are not as structurally sound as the altered versions. In fact, they are often soft and the molecules flow and move easily. To use the metal in a manufacturing setting, the structure of the metal itself must be changed. This is where alloys come in.

Essentially a compound of one basic metal and several other metal or metalloid materials, alloys are what we most often encounter in our everyday lives and on the manufacturing floor of virtually every industrial building. Stainless steel is a commonly-recognized alloy, but often coppers and aluminums used day-to-day are types of alloys as well.

Alloys are formed by filling in the gaps. The literal structure of metal atoms resembles a grid or matrix of spheres connected by lines. These lines are interatomic bonds and the spheres are the atoms themselves. While the formation of this matrix is complete, there are inevitable gaps between the atoms and bonds where empty space creates the malleability of pure metals.

Though these gaps add flexibility to the pure metal, the give is limited and the material still lacks in most other properties necessary for successful metal stamping. To add additional flexibility, elasticity, durability, strength, ductility, corrosion resistance, and many other properties, the pure metal must be alloyed with materials that offer these qualities.

To alloy the pure metal with additional materials without damaging the structure of any materials involved, the matrix is kept intact, but gaps are filled with small atoms. These fillers are called interstitial alloying elements, and they work alongside other alloying agents called substitutional alloying elements that meld or take the place of the pure metal atoms in the matrix (example figure).

Adding in alloying elements strengthens the pure metal material without significantly changing its structure, and it can now be used effectively to form the parts TEC customers need. For more information about the alloys and high quality sheet metals we use in our precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company at (763) 533-1501.

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Material Characteristics and Treating Materials Used for Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

March 1st, 2017 · No Comments

At Thomas Engineering Company, we work with the highest quality metals that we know our customers would choose for their parts. Selecting the best materials allows us to manufacture the best products. With each part we stamp, we use the specific material that would best fit the function of that part. By highlighting durability, strength, flexibility, and corrosion resistance—among other attributes—Thomas Engineering Company performs precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN with materials that continually outshine others.

When it comes to preparing materials to use in precision metal stamping, TEC engineers first look at the basic characteristics of the metal, including physical and chemical properties and the surface attributes. These characteristics vary both from metal to metal and between the different metal treating processes. For example, steel is commonly used for most metal stamped parts, and its characteristics change with treatments.

Steels that are frequently used for a wide range of purposes includes mid-strength steels, high strength steels, and stainless steels.

The characteristics of mid-strength steels (also referred to as mild or drawing steels) are created with a mixture of 0.04% carbon, 0.25% manganese, and several smaller amounts of other metals. The mixture of separate metals is very small in mid-strength steels, and often 99% of the alloy is iron, the main element in most steel compounds. The addition of more metals in these steels gives improved strength but lessens formability and weldability.

High-strength steels offer a greater range of metals compounded into the steel alloy, which provides a greater variety of characteristics from steel to steel. This can mean greater plasticity and improved weldability, formability, and strength. Heat treating and other treatments done after the alloying of the metal offer even more room for changing characteristics to suit the function of the material.

Stainless steel is known for its primary characteristic of being resistance to corrosion and oxidation. Most stainless steels contain 10% chromium in the form of a chromium-based oxide surface coating that blocks the steel’s contact with corrosion-conducive conditions. Not only do stainless steels have greater resistance to corrosion, they also provide low yield strength, high impact strength, and rapid hardening. Their flexibility and plasticity is improved by the alloying of nickel, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, and traces of other metals. And if you require the absolute best quality powder coating supplies in the UK then have a look there as they are easily the best that I have found.

While steel is the most frequently used material for its wide range of characteristics, there are many other metals that serve their own purposes with different characteristics and options for treatment. For more information about the materials we use at Thomas Engineering Company for precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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Using Interchangeable Tooling Today and Its Role in the History of Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

February 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

The majority of tools and technology used in the metal stamping industry have developed alongside each other. From air tools that are used in many varied industries and professions, all the way to highly specialized and fully automated machinery for large-scale production, large strides and innovations have been made at all levels throughout the years. While there is some digital technology today that has advanced further than the mechanical technology it’s paired with, in most cases the evolutions of types of metal stamping equipment have moved forward hand-in-hand. At Thomas Engineering Company, we make use of the highest quality technology available in the industry, and we’re able to provide our precision metal stamping services thanks to the history of metal stamping and rigging services used to haul these heavy materials.

One important piece of metal stamping technology that TEC engineers and technicians put to good use is interchangeable tooling.

Interchangeable tooling is based on the design concept of interchangeable parts. These parts are manufactured to be identical in terms of practical use, meaning they can be used in the same assembly operation. For example, one type of component can be interchangeable with another type of components because they were designed and manufactured with interchangeable tooling.

With interchangeable tooling, TEC customers avoid the cost of additional designs and tooling processes. The use of interchangeable parts also means equipment is more quickly and effectively repaired, and parts can be replaced without needing custom part design and stamping.

The concept of interchangeable parts grew during the industrial revolution. In the U.S., the idea was most important with the increased use of assembly lines in manufacturing plants across industries. Lathes, planers, milling machines, PCD Tools, and other machine tools developed during the early 20th century had the biggest impact on the growth of interchangeable parts.

When electrically-powered machinery and computer-aided design and manufacturing were integrated into most industries, interchangeable parts could be realized to the highest degree of accuracy.

Today, TEC uses interchangeable tooling to provide customers with the precision-based interchangeable parts they need for efficient, cost-effective production.

For more information about the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, and the precision metal stamping we offer at Thomas Engineering Company, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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The Three Major Pillars Supporting High Quality Precision Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

February 15th, 2017 · No Comments

For over 50 years, Thomas Engineering Company has specialized in precision metal stamping, providing custom stamped products to companies across the country. Maintaining excellence over the years has taken dedication to growing as a company and developing new design and manufacturing processes as the advancement of metal stamping technology continues. TEC’s abilities as a company are supported on three pillars: people, production, and technology. These pillars are fundamental to the Thomas Engineering Company’s standards for high quality precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

The combination of each pillar upholds our standards as they work together to create finalized precision stamped parts and deliver them to our valued customers.

People: From engineers and machine specialists to accountants and representatives, TEC production is made possible by the hard working people on our staff. Our experienced engineers supply innovative part design, die design, and the effective use of software, which leads to the quality touch that marks TEC products. Our proficient machine technicians and floor operators keep equipment and production lines running smoothly to get orders to our customers on time, and our customer service department and representatives across the country top off the well-oiled machine that is the pillar of TEC people.

Design & Production: Without a quality product, however, even the best people in the world cannot make a good company. TEC engineers have established innovative approaches to part design with advanced CAD/CAM imaging software and rapid prototyping abilities. With customer-engineer communication throughout the design process, the finished drafts and prototypes of any given part will fit the exact specifications needed. Our production process completes this pillar when paired with design, and with state-of-the-art rapid stamping and thin stamping abilities, our production process is just as particular as our design. To accomplish the excellence we reach in the design and production process, we also rely on the third pillar: technology.

Equipment & Software: The technology that makes up our designing software and precision stamping equipment completes the trio of pillars intrinsic to TEC. From progressive high-speed dies to CAD/CAM imaging, we work with nothing but the best. Not only does our production technology allow us to perform rapid and thin precision stamping, but it also gives our engineers and technicians the abilities to complete valued-added services such as in-die spot welding, plating, and finishing, deburring, and more. Our packaging equipment also provides options for tape and reel packaging and other methods of specialty packaging for unique parts.

With these three pillars; people, production, and technology, TEC’s standards for high-quality precision stamping are met year after year. For more information about Thomas Engineering Company and precision metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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The Development of Progressive Stamping and the Role it Plays in the History of Metal Stamping in Minneapolis, MN

February 10th, 2017 · No Comments

Metal stamping has played a significant role in manufacturing industries for hundreds of years, from technological advancements to wars and beyond. Each decade in the history of metal stamping has its own notable advancements in stamping technology, in the last decade of the 1800’s, the first records of a progressive die were published. The development of progressive dies is fundamental to the high-quality precision stamping performed at Thomas Engineering Company, and at TEC, we place great importance on honoring the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN.

The first mention of a progressive die came in 1896 in The Press Working of Metals by Oberlin Smith with methods described as “successive gang cutting.” The actual description of what is considered a progressive die came a year later in Dies and Die Making by J.L. Lewis.

During the early 1900s, progressive dies were increasingly used to produce quickly and in high quantities. Automotive companies used early progressive dies to produce a large number of parts, including electric engine components similar to the electronic components TEC produces today. In 1955, a chapter in the Die Design Handbook produced by the American Society of Tool Manufacturing detailed progressive dies of the era.

With the rebirth of the economy after WWII, manufacturing demands rose and production time needed to be shortened significantly to supply industries with enough parts to meet the increase in demand. During this time, the progressive die became crucial to metal stamping companies across the U.S.

In 1953, Ed Stouten and his partner launched Capitol Engineering Company, a novel company specializing in die design. Stouten created the first strip stamping methods, using scrap material connecting parts to carry the strip through a progressive die. The success of his methods gave rise to a new generation of progressive stamping dies.  Stouten spread his knowledge of progressive dies and strip stamping throughout the 50 years in seminar after seminar.

Today, even some of our most advanced progressive stamping dies use the technology developed by Stouten and his engineers. Budding engineers are routinely educated in Stouten’s designs and seminar materials, and his work is continually published in all types of metal stamping literature.

Without the development of the progressive stamping die and Stouten’s contributions, the precision stamped parts TEC specializes in would not be possible. For more information about how the history of metal stamping in Minneapolis, MN, has formed the precision metal stamping services Thomas Engineering Company provides, contact us at (763) 533-1501 today.

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