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September 9-14

Chicago, IL

Booth #432123

 

TCI Precision Metals announced the installation of a new You JI DSM1200 Series duplex mill. The machine is the latest addition to a growing number of duplex mills used in the production process of precision Machine-Ready Blanks. The DSM1200 Series boosts an impressive X-axis travel of 68.9” (1,725mm) and a Y/Z-axis travel of 29.3” (745mm), with a max load capacity of 11,024 lbs. (5,000kg). The addition of the large new format mill is intended to support the production of larger parts while improving efficiency and shortening customer lead time as demand for Custom Made-to-Order and Ready-to-Ship Machine-Ready Blanks continues to rise.

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TCI Precision Metals Expands Duplex Milling Capacity

New Amada THV460 Supports Increased Demand for Machine-Ready Blanks™

Today, TCI Precision Metals announced the installation of its newest Amada duplex mill, the THV460. Representing the latest technology in precision duplex milling, the machine is the newest addition to the TCI line of optimized milling machines used in the production of Machine-Ready Blanks. The THV460 will continue to reduce customer lead time as demand for Custom Made-to-Order and Standard Ready-to-Ship Machine-Ready Blanks continues to rise.

TCI Machine-Ready Blanks are milled in width and length, using the THV460’s specially designed twin spindle, in one setup instead of two. This reduces set-up time and increases efficiency.  One or more Machine-Ready Blanks can be milled simultaneously to the machines' overall dimensional capacity of 18.4"W x 18.4"L x 5.9"H.   The value is passed to TCI customers through shorter lead times and competitive pricing.

“We continue to invest in our people and equipment at TCI, focusing on what we do best: helping our customers eliminate material prep with Machine-Ready Blanks,” said Ben Belzer, President and CEO of TCI Precision Metals. By refining our equipment and processes to maximize quality and efficiency, we can provide customers with cost-effective, high-value, Machine-Ready Blanks that can reduce a shop’s overall cost by as much as 25% on a given production job,” added Belzer.

Custom Machine-Ready Blanks are precision milled to the customer’s net specifications and can be furnished as close as +/-.0005” dimensionally and as close as .002” in flatness, squareness, and parallelism. Each Machine-Ready Blank is deburred, cleaned, and vacuum packaged – ready to go directly from receiving into CNC machining centers.  Machine-Ready Blanks helps shops eliminate material prep and reduce set-up time, part movement, scrap, and wear and tear on machine tool inserts and cutters used to square material in-house.

Customer Service

Always do the right thing.

Service touches every aspect of doing business, and with its far-reaching influence, there can be a lot to unpack about the subject.  At TCI Precision Metals, we have many service initiatives in place. Still, to ensure there are no misunderstandings of intent, every employee is empowered to do the right thing regarding customer service.

In today’s manufacturing environment, the significance of service often takes a backseat to the production process. However, it is crucial to recognize that service is equally vital internally and externally. Service can be a potent differentiator against competition, but to truly deliver on the promise, you must cultivate a service-oriented culture within your company.

Service in manufacturing encompasses everything beyond the actual production of goods. It involves pre-sale support, such as consulting and product customization, as well as post-sale services, like maintenance, repair, and customer support. These services are not just about mitigating immediate customer service issues; they are about building long-term relationships. They ensure customer satisfaction, build brand loyalty, and foster long-term relationships, making every interaction with a customer a valuable opportunity.

Providing excellent service ensures customers have a positive experience with your brand, increasing their likelihood of repeat purchases and referrals. A company known for its exceptional service earns trust and loyalty from customers, even amidst fierce competition. It can also support revenue generation through maintenance agreements, spare parts, and other value-added services.

Service in manufacturing extends far beyond the initial sale. It encompasses various touchpoints throughout the customer journey, including:

Creating a Service-Oriented Culture

To instill a service-oriented culture within your company, the following key elements are critical:

Service plays a critical role in the success of virtually every manufacturing company, extending far beyond production. By making service excellence a priority, you can differentiate your brand in the market, build strong customer relationships, and drive long-term growth.

To ingrain a service-oriented culture requires commitment, investment, and a relentless focus on exceeding customer expectations at every touchpoint. Most importantly, when service issues arise, always do the right thing.

 

Thanks for reading –

Ben

 

OnlineMetals.com Adds MIC-6 Aluminum Cast Plate
Ready-to-Ship Blanks from TCI Precision Metals

Gardena, Calif. April 24, 2024 - TCI Precision Metals announces that its MIC-6 aluminum cast plate, Machine-Ready Blanks, is now available from OnlineMetals.com, the World’s leading e-commerce metal and plastics supplier. MIC-6 Machine-Ready Blanks eliminate material prep and arrive ready to go directly from receiving to finish machining. Customers can order flat, square, and parallel materials to close tolerance specifications.

MIC-6 aluminum cast plate is a blend of the most desirable features of many individual metals with zinc as its primary alloying element. The result is a cast aluminum plate that meets the challenge of product accuracy demanded by today's industry. MIC-6 has excellent machining characteristics and is dimensionally stable and flat compared to 6061 rolled plates. MIC-6 is stress-relieved and has very low internal stresses. It is a popular choice for tooling and base plates and is often found in aerospace, marine, electronics, hydraulic equipment, machine components, and automotive applications.

“MIC-6 Machine-Ready Blanks help customers shorten setup time, reduce scrap, and increase overall throughput up to 25% or more by eliminating material prep. Blanks arrive machine-ready for production,” said Ben Belzer, President and CEO of TCI Precision Metals.

Precision blanks eliminate the need for in-house sawing, grinding, flattening, squaring operations, and outside processing. Blanks are consistent, part-to-part, which reduces setup time. In the case of MIC-6 aluminum cast plate, the production process at the mill turns out flat and stress-relieved material that reduces part movement during CNC machining.

MIC-6 Machine-Ready Blanks are available in standard thicknesses from 0.25” to 1.00” and tight flatness tolerances from the mill. Each blank is duplex milled on length and width to +/- .002”. Each blank is deburred, cleaned, and individually packaged to avoid damage during shipping.

“We are seeing an increase in demand for MIC-6 aluminum cast plate from our customers.  At OnlineMetals.com, we specialize in cut-to-size, small-to-medium-quantity orders shipped directly to any location. MIC-6 material provides that extra processing value that lets customers order exactly what they need, and it arrives ready to go directly from receiving to machining. They can use the time they previously spent in setup and prep for more productive use of their CNC machining centers,” said Matt Holzhauer, Marketplace Manager at OnlineMetals.com

TCI Precision Metals Expands Duplex Milling Capacity

Larger Parts and Increased Throughput of Precision Machine-Ready Blanks

TCI Precision Metals announced the installation of a new You JI DSM1200 Series duplex mill. The machine is the latest addition to a growing number of duplex mills used in the production process of precision Machine-Ready Blanks. The DSM1200 Series boosts an impressive X-axis travel of 68.9” (1,725mm) and a Y/Z-axis travel of 29.3” (745mm), with a max load capacity of 11,024 lbs. (5,000kg). The addition of the large new format mill is intended to support the production of larger parts while improving efficiency and shortening customer lead time as demand for Custom Made-to-Order and Ready-to-Ship Machine-Ready Blanks continues to rise.

“We are committed to providing our customers with value in the form of precision high-quality blanks, delivered on time and at a price that is less than they can produce the same materials in their shop. Our investment in this new large-format duplex mill helps us produce larger and more machine-ready blanks in less time. The value is passed to TCI customers through shorter lead times and competitive pricing,” said Ben Belzer, TCI Precision Metals’ president and CEO.

Precision Machine-Ready Blanks eliminate the need for in-house sawing, grinding, flattening, squaring operations, and outside processing. Each blank arrives deburred, clean, and individually packaged to avoid damage during shipping. Blanks are available in two ways: Ready-to-Ship blanks can be ordered online for same-day or next-day shipping and arrive square, flat, and parallel within ± .002” of specified dimensions all around; custom-made-to-order blanks are made to customer specifications and are guaranteed as close as +/- .0005” dimensionally and as close as .002” flatness, squareness, and parallelism.

Founded in 1956, TCI Precision Metals is a family-owned, wholesale, machine-ready metals distributor that produces precision-cut parts and Machine-Ready Blanks from aluminum, stainless steel, and other alloys. Sawing, Waterjet Cutting, Grinding, Milling, and Finishing operations, with the added benefit of being a plate and sheet distributor, make TCI Precision Metals a one-stop shop for value-added metal services. TCI serves the needs of the medical, oil & gas, aerospace, industrial equipment, defense, food packaging, semiconductor, and many other industries.


It’s Tough to be in Business Without it.

Efficiency is one of the most essential attributes businesses aspire to today. Nowhere is this more the case than in metalworking. The concept is applied to lean strategies, Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE), and almost every other aspect of manufacturing that requires effort.

The concept of efficiency applies to virtually every type of business and even across humanity, for that matter. If you interpret it at face value, efficiency is the ratio of a machine or a process's valuable work to the total energy expended or heat taken in. Considering your entire enterprise, that definition can be a lot to unpack. In the simplest terms, efficiency measures how a company acquires and converts raw materials and labor into products and services that generate revenues and subsequent profits.

An efficiently run business should be smooth-running; companies that invest in continuous improvement will keep getting better at what they do, adding to productivity and profitability. Every department in an organization, not just manufacturing, should routinely do an internal assessment to measure and improve efficiency.

Tap Into Other Departments

Everyone thinks their department is unique, but you would be surprised.  When it comes to concepts like communication, process mapping, use of automation, good work habits, and time management, a lot can be shared cross-departmentally.

Consider Outsourcing

All departments within an organization will typically look to the outside for value-added products or services that provide expertise or competency not found within the organization. When considering whether or not to outsource all or part of a process, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this a competency we lack, and can we be more efficient and improve overall quality by outsourcing it?
  2. What improvement can we expect – better, faster, more cost-effective?
  3. What are the net cost ramifications compared to the operational benefits?

Realistic Metrics

In manufacturing, efficiency is typically measured by OEE.  100% OEE is perfect production: manufacturing only good parts as fast as possible, with no stop time. 85% OEE is considered world-class for discrete manufacturers. For many companies, it is a suitable long-term goal.

Not every department within an organization can be measured this way, but an acceptable metric must be adopted because there can be no management without measurement.

At TCI Precision Metals, we are committed to constant improvement. As a provider of precision materials to our customers, we must embody the tenets of this article to deliver efficient solutions consistently.

So, here’s to efficiency!

Thanks for reading-

Ben

Machine-Ready Blanks from TCI Precision Metals help mold shops shorten setup time, reduce scrap, and reduce in-house machining time by eliminating material preparation for a cavity, core, mold blocks, and other components. Made-to-order machine-ready blanks are produced to tight tolerances and exact customer specifications; they are guaranteed to arrive machine-ready for production.

Every successful mold is dependent on precision engineering and machining of critical components. Precision blanks eliminate the need for in-house sawing, grinding, flattening, squaring operations, and outside processing. Each blank arrives deburred, clean, and individually packaged to avoid damage during shipping. Blanks arrive square, flat, and parallel and are guaranteed as close as +/- .0005” dimensionally and as close as .0002” flatness, squareness, and parallelism.

Blanks can also be ordered to include added features, such as roughing and hog outs of large amounts of material. This can be beneficial in reducing production time, lowering costs, and improving the quality of components for many mold-making applications, including injection molds, castings, extrusions, compression molds, rubber pad forming, and blow molds.

TCI Precision Metals is a value-added metals distributor and can provide precision blanks made from aluminum, stainless, carbon steel, copper, brass, plastic, nickel-based alloys, and more.

“By beginning the production of mold components with machine-ready blanks, customers can use the time they previously spent in setup and prep for more productive use of CNC machining centers, adding to their bottom-line profitability,” said Ben Belzer, President of TCI Precision Metals.

Good question. The right answer is everyone. Branding is a classic example of the saying, ‘The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.’  Look at all great products, parts, or organizations, for that matter.  They are viewed in their entirety as great or, in some cases, as something less than great.

Take the F-35 Joint Stike Fighter. Most people would agree it is as good as it gets. But if you break it down, it’s just a bunch of parts.  The shared vision, cohesiveness, and commitment of the team behind its development are the essence of the F-35 brand and what makes it great.

Every organization must have an individual that ultimately sets the vision and culture for the company. What is expected, what is acceptable, and most importantly, what is not. From this point on, it is a case of leading by example. Once the key tenants of the brand are communicated, they must be nurtured and never compromised. The better an organization is at living its brand culture, the stronger the brand identity will become, eventually hitting critical mass.

  1. Be honest. If you are setting your company’s brand culture, you better know what your team is capable of. Signing up for unwavering quality, exceptional customer service, product innovation, or other lofty promises can be a slippery slope.  The basis of your brand promise should be what you do best consistently.
  2. Lead by example. Don’t rise above your employees, but rather be an employee yourself.  Live the culture you expect others to emulate. If you can’t do this, I recommend you hand off leadership responsibility and find something else to do with your time.
  3. Get onboard. If you are an employee of an organization, you need to understand the company’s brand promise and be part of the solution that makes it successful.  If you feel the brand tenants are not honest or not being upheld, you owe it to yourself and your employer to call it out.

A shared sense of brand ownership places everyone in the organization as an equal when it comes to maintaining the brand identity. Everyone is responsible for protecting and strengthening the company’s brand reputation.

 

Thanks for reading –

Ben
TCI Chief Brand Officer and Bottle Washer

'Part of the Global Aluminum Metals Market'

Aluminum Sheet vs. Aluminum Plate: What You Should Know

Aluminum is one of the world's most abundant, used, and recycled metals; it is light, strong, flexible, non-corrosive, and infinitely recyclable.  Aluminum is a worldwide commodity, with different regions vying for production, recycling, and consumption.  Though the U.S. demands nearly 10% of the worldwide volume of aluminum, it produces only about 1% of the global aluminum output, including primary and secondary (recycled) aluminum.

In 2018, the U.S. added aluminum to its critical metals list, but without enough domestic aluminum to meet industrial demand, we must turn to aluminum imports. China is the world’s largest aluminum producer, but ongoing trade tensions mean we cannot rely on China for a consistent aluminum supply chain.

This was not always the case; as recently as 1981, the US produced 30% of the world's primary aluminum, and up through 2000, the U.S. was the world's largest producer of primary aluminum. By 2014, U.S. output slipped to 3.5% of the world’s production and ranked sixth. This trend has continued to where the market is today.

Top producers of primary and secondary aluminum by country:

  1. China – 54.1%
  2. Australia – 15.4%
  3. Brazil – 7%
  4. India – 4.9%
  5. Russia – 2%
  6. Saudi Arabia – 1.3%
  7. Jamaica – 1.2%
  8. Canada – 1.1%
  9. United States – 1%

Consumers of aluminum by country or region:

  1. China – 58.7%
  2. Europe – 14%
  3. Asia (excluding China) - 11.4%
  4. North America – 9.2%
  5. Latin America – 1.7%
  6. Other – 5%

In an effort to reduce weight, the automotive, transportation, and aerospace industries use various aluminum alloys to manufacture components.  Aluminum is durable, and by reducing vehicle weight, improvements are realized in fuel consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Aluminum is also used in construction, electrical, and electronics industries and in machined components across virtually all industries.

The production of aluminum metal begins with bauxite ore, made up of hydrated aluminum oxide (40% to 60%) mixed with silica and iron oxide. It requires 5 tons of bauxite ore to make 2 tons of alumina. For every 2 tons of alumina, 1 ton of aluminum is produced.

Worldwide production of primary aluminum was approximately 65.3 million tons in 2020. China was the leading producer at 37 million tons, followed by India, Russia, and Canada.

Aluminum is one of the most recycled metals in the world, with 90% of the aluminum used in automotive and construction applications being recycled. Secondary aluminum production requires 95% less energy than the production of primary aluminum.

In addition to global supply and demand realities associated with aluminum, there are additional sourcing considerations for manufacturers here in the U.S.

What does all this mean to you?

It is becoming more difficult to source aluminum materials the way you used to.  Though U.S. mills are doing their best to produce aluminum alloys in the most efficient formats and quantities to meet demand, the reality is that you may need to be flexible in alloy, dimension, delivery time, or country of origin in order to keep production on schedule.  6061 sheet and plate is a good example of a specification in thinning supply.

At TCI Precision Metals, we are capable and willing to provide the additional processing necessary to meet your materials specifications, but please try to involve us as early as possible in your production planning.  Working together we will get you the materials you need, pre-machined to your specifications, and ready to go directly from receiving to machining.

We would appreciate your opinion on acceptable aluminum materials sourcing.  Please take our brief online survey. This is a blind survey; your information will not be shared with anyone else.   If you would like to receive a copy of the completed survey, please provide your email at the end, and we will send it to you.

Thanks for reading –

Ben