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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

TCI Precision Metals announced the expansion of its precision sawing services to meet the demands of customers wanting more flexibility in materials processing. Customers with needs ranging from precision sawing to six-sided precision machine-ready blanks can now be accommodated. Computerized precision sawing helps TCI to serve more of the customer’s materials needs. TCI sources aluminum, stainless steel, and other alloys mill-direct, which supports customers needing value-added materials, but the Company also works with customer-supplied materials.

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OnlineMetals.com Adds C110 Copper
Ready-to-Ship Blanks from TCI Precision Metals

TCI Precision Metals announces that its C110 copper, Ready-to-Ship blanks are now available from OnlineMetals.com, the World’s leading e-commerce metal and plastics supplier.  The pre-machined blanks allow customers to order flat, square, and parallel materials to close tolerance specifications.

C110 copper is 99.9% pure copper and has a conductivity of 101% IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard).  C110 copper plate and sheet material is well suited for environmentally challenging applications. For marine usage, copper provides natural antifouling properties, making it ideal for many boat components, both above and below the waterline. Given the natural conductivity of copper, it is an excellent choice for electrical components.  The thermal properties of copper make it an excellent choice for heating and cooling applications. Copper is often specified for aerospace and defense applications for its conductivity and corrosion resistance.

“C110 copper Ready to Ship 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.

Precsion 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 flat blanks, the production process alleviates the material's residual stress, resulting in reduced part movement during CNC machining.

C110 copper Ready-to-Ship blanks are available in common thickness from 0.25” to 1.00” and are guaranteed flat +/- .002”. Precision saw or waterjet cut dimensional sizes are available up to 24” x 24”, +.125”-0” of specified length and width. Each blank is deburred, cleaned, and individually packaged to avoid damage during shipping.

“We are seeing a growing number of customers looking for pre-machined materials.  At OnlineMetals.com, we specialize in cut-to-size, small-to-medium-quantity orders shipped directly to any location. Pre-machined C110 copper blanks provide that extra processing value that lets customers order materials that arrive ready to go directly from receiving to machining. Customers can use the time they previously spent in setup and prep for more productive use of CNC machining centers,” said Matt Holzhauer, Marketplace Manager at OnlineMetals.com

As we close out 2023, I find myself, yet again, compelled to pause and reflect on another year’s journey.  This year’s canvas was painted with a myriad of challenges and experiences for our manufacturing community but also splashed with more world news and topics that we couldn’t have foreseen.

A very smart man (my dad) once said, “Ben, don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.” Over the years, I have come to fully understand and appreciate what he meant. Especially in these times of selective narratives, AI-driven news, and manipulated reality, you often cannot trust what you hear or see. People are being driven apart by their beliefs or opinions on many levels.

It is startling, at least to me, that in 2023 all-out wars are being waged as you read this. I know what the news says and what floats to the top of social media, but I also know what I believe.  I believe in human kindness and compassion for others, whether in business or my personal life.  I believe that right will always overcome wrong, even if wrong can’t be fully stopped.  I hope these conflicts get resolved quickly and that the right side of history will again prevail. The power of good lies in its ability to inspire and transform on all levels, geo-political, business, and personal. Ultimately, right over wrong and good over evil will always prevail.

While I don’t influence world conflict, I do influence my business and employees.  I stress the importance of our core values, and I live and die by them.  Does your workplace have core values?  What do those core values say about your organization?  In our case, it means integrity, excellence, and goodwill for those around us.

On the more tangible side of things, in 2024, I recommit myself and our company to providing efficient solutions to your material challenges, backed with a promise of high quality and excellent support.  I want our relationship with you to serve as an example of how people and companies should interact.

Efficiency and productivity are some of the top challenges shops face today.  A common theme is how to get more out of current resources and only invest in new equipment if it can provide better, faster results than the equipment being replaced. This is where we need to work together to effectively manage expectations.  Our job is to understand your job (production run or short run) and provide efficient materials designed to increase machining throughput, reduce scrap, and improve quality without adding additional equipment or personnel.

Our ability to do this consistently is what keeps us in business. We appreciate the opportunity and trust every one of our customers places in us. We will always do what is right.

I would like to personally wish you a Happy Holiday and Productive New Year.

Thanks for reading –

Ben

TCI Precision Metals Achieves ITAR Registration

TEC Precision Metals announced its successful attainment of ITAR registration. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) registration signifies TCI Precision Metals' dedication to national security and adherence to rigorous compliance standards.

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Gardena, Calif.-based TCI Precision Metals has announced that its ready-to-ship A36 carbon steel blanks are now available from OnlineMetals.com, an e-commerce metal and plastics supplier.

The blanks eliminate the need for in-house sawing, grinding, flattening, and squaring operations and outside processing. They are available in sizes from 0.250 to 2 in. thick, 6 to 36 in. wide, and 12 to 48 in. long. Each blank is deburred, cleaned, and individually packaged to avoid damage during shipping. According to the manufacturer, they arrive square, flat, and parallel within ± 0.002 in. of specified thickness and +0.125 to 0 in. of specified length and width.

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TCI Precision Metals Expands Waterjet Cutting

Improves Efficiency When Producing Short-Run Machine-Ready Blanks

TCI Precision Metals has increased its waterjet cutting services to meet the growing demand for its Machine-Ready Blanks. The variety of shapes, sizes, and quantities of pre-machined metal plates cut from full sheet material requires maximum utilization, creating as little scrap as possible. Using computer-controlled material layouts and cutting guidance, TCI can simultaneously cut materials for multiple orders, shortening lead times and passing the savings on to customers.

Machine-Ready Blanks are close-tolerance materials that go directly from the customer’s receiving dock to finish machining or fabrication. TCI originally started providing waterjet cutting to customers as a service, using customer-supplied materials or materials sourced mill-direct, aluminum, stainless steel, and other alloys. “As our blanks business continued to grow, we realized the value of cutting shaped blanks (other than square) using waterjet, which has proven a win/win for our customers and the environment, as we have reduced scrap by as much as 90% on shaped blanks,” said Ben Belzer, President, and CEO of TCI Precision Metals.

The Company continues investing in additional waterjet machines using the most advanced equipment. The OMAX 80X series waterjet, with its patented Tilt-A-Jet cutting head, ensures high precision, square, and finished edge cuts. Precision waterjet cut blanks continue to secondary operations, making them close tolerance and machine-ready to meet customer specifications.

With several grades of aluminum and stainless steel sheet and plate stock and other alloys, in-house turnaround times are short, and TCI Precision Metals ships coast-to-coast. TCI sources materials mill-direct, then precision cuts and mills two or six sides to close tolerance customer specifications.

Precision Machine-Ready blanks eliminate the need for in-house sawing, grinding, flattening, and squaring operations. 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.

Ready-to-Ship Blanks from TCI Precision Metals

Gardena, Calif. (October 24, 2023). TCI Precision Metals announces that its A36 Carbon Steel, Ready-to-Ship blanks are now available from OnlineMetals.com, the World’s leading e-commerce metal and plastics supplier.  The pre-machined blanks allow customers to order flat, square, and parallel materials to close tolerance specifications.

ASTM A36 steel plate is a grade of steel commonly used in structural applications. This mild steel contains alloys that give it properties such as machinability, ductility, and strength that are ideal for building applications. Due to its high strength, many bridges and other structures are made with A36 steel. It is also used for components in automotive, heavy equipment, and oil and gas applications, including frames, bearing plates, tanks, gears, and base plates.

“A36 Ready to Ship Blanks help shops 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 flat blanks, the production process alleviates the material's residual stress, resulting in reduced part movement during finish machining. A36 Ready-to-Ship blanks are available in sizes ranging from .250”-2” thickness, 6” – 36” width, and 12” – 48” in length. Each blank is deburred, cleaned, and individually packaged to avoid damage during shipping. Ready-to-Ship Blanks arrive square, flat, and parallel within ± .002” of specified thickness and +.125-0 of specified length and width.

“At OnlineMetals.com, we specialize in cut-to-size, small to medium quantity orders shipped direct to any location. Pre-machined A36 carbon steel blanks that are Ready-to-Ship provide that extra processing value that lets customers order materials that arrive ready to go directly from receiving to machining. Customers can use the time they previously spent in setup and prep for more productive use of CNC machining centers,” said Matt Holzhauer, Marketplace Manager at OnlineMetals.com

Founded in 1956, TCI Precision Metals is a family-owned manufacturer producing precision Machine-Ready Blanks from aluminum, stainless steel, and other alloys. The company also provides Sawing, Grinding, Milling, and Finishing operations on customer-supplied materials.

OnlineMetals.com is the world’s leading eCommerce metal and plastics supplier, specializing in cut-to-size, small to medium quantity orders shipped directly to any location. Online Metals was a garage start-up founded in Seattle in 1998. The company has grown over the years and expanded to six facilities across the U.S., offering over 55,000 products.

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