ESPE Manufacturing Co., Inc.

Author Archives: Ryan Pethes

  1. Formex for Insulation of Batteries & Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)

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    Electrical insulation involves non-electrically conductive material used to control the flow of electricity and protect sensitive components. Various materials can be used, such as rubber, plastic or material like Formex for insulation. These materials work by blocking the passage of electrons more effectively than semiconducting and conducting materials. This means that they can be used as a protective barrier around the conductor, ensuring energy stays on a specific path and doesn’t interact with other components, causing short-circuiting.

    Importance of PCB & Battery Insulation

    In applications involving PCBs, insulation acts as the dielectric material used to separate conducting elements and layers. Most PCBs used today are multilayered, which means multiple adhesion points are present. This increased board height requires more soldering and makes proper insulation vital to the board’s effectiveness. In PCB applications, having a thorough understanding of your PCB’s construction is the best way to ensure it’s insulated adequately and can operate at its highest potential.

    Another key application for electrical insulation is in batteries. Electrical vehicle batteries, for example, require insulation between each component to ensure no electrical arc can arise between battery components. This is a necessary precaution to prevent fires, shocks, high temperatures, short circuits, and more.

    When choosing a material to insulate PCBs and batteries, there are several factors that should be considered. One of the primary concerns is the material’s thickness in relation to its efficiency. Insulating material needs to be highly effective, but thickness also needs to be taken into account. Certain insulation applications feature highly compact components that are not suited to a particularly thick material.

    It’s also important to consider what type of processing your insulator should undergo. Certain insulation materials are significantly easier to process than others and, depending on your application, this may be a significant concern. However, an easy-to-process material might not perform according to your required standards. Insulation weight and cost-to-function ratio should also be factored into decision-making. For PCB and battery insulation applications, a particularly high-performing material is ITW Formex. This material is uniquely suited to PCB and battery applications, meeting all of the typical demands.

    Why Formex?

    ITW Formex is ideal for protecting delicate components and is widely used throughout many applications. It offers excellent dielectric strength and provides reliable mechanical protection. Formex can be formed into even the most complex three-dimensional shapes by die-cutting, scoring, and bending. In PCB insulation applications, Formex is used for barriers between PC boards as well as between PC boards and housings.

    Formex electrical insulation is made from polypropylene, which is lightweight and inexpensive, while meeting rigorous electrical barrier and insulation requirements. With a flame class rating of UL 94V-0, Formex has excellent flame-retardant properties and will not combust or melt at temperatures up to 239° F.

    Additionally, ITW Formex features several key characteristics that allow it to outperform other insulation materials, such as preventing electrically charged components from arcing. Formex is ideal for many types of EV battery applications as it protects from contact corrosion, provides EMI shielding capabilities, and more. For electric vehicle battery applications, Formex stands up to chemical, mechanical, and environmental demands.

    ESPE Manufacturing: Your Source for Reliable Insulation

    PCBs and batteries are used throughout nearly every industry and require high performing, reliable insulation. Formex contains many beneficial characteristics that make it ideally suited to these applications. In addition to being uniquely easy to shape, it also features notable strength and valuable fire-retardant properties, all while being cost-effective.

    ESPE Manufacturing Co., Inc., has been providing high-quality electrical insulation solutions since 1948 and features one of the largest inventories in the Midwest. We offer ITW Formex rolls and sheets and carry several varieties suitable for a wide selection of applications. Our experts can help you select the best type for your project. Browse our catalog or contact us to get started. To partner with us and take advantage of Formex insulation for your application, request a quote today.

     

  2. Material Spotlight: Teflon® for Electrical Insulation 

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    ESPE Manufacturing works with a number of electrical insulation materials and with a variety of fabrication methods. Even the most complex specifications are manufactured accurately using techniques such as laser cutting, die cutting, digital plastic cutting, and more. We provide prototyping services and can fabricate custom parts in both high and low production volumes. Our products are available in many suitable materials, including PTFE or Teflon® for electrical insulation purposes.

    This blog post will discuss what Teflon® is as well as the many advantages of using Teflon® for electrical insulation products.

    What is Teflon®?

    Teflon® is the widely recognized brand name for polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is a type of plastic that is used to coat various products and equipment, creating a non-stick, waterproof, non-reactive, and corrosion-resistant protective barrier. Teflon® is extensively used throughout various industries, including automotive, construction, aerospace, and more, for applications such as pipes, gears, wires, and cables.

    Why is Teflon® Good for Electrical Insulation?

    Teflon® is impervious to nearly all solvents and chemicals, including those frequently used in electronics manufacturing. It is a very resilient, non-reactive material that can withstand temperatures ranging from -454° F to 600° F (-234° C to 315° C), making it an excellent insulator for electrical applications exposed to extreme heat or cold.

    Teflon® is composed of carbon-fluorine bonds that are very flexible, even after significant bending and stressing. Teflon® insulated wires cannot be cross-linked and have a long, reliable flex life. The extreme durability of Teflon® ensures long-lasting protection of electrical components.

    Teflon® also displays excellent dielectric strength, making it an excellent electrical insulator. Teflon® coated components are very low friction, meaning components will experience minimal resistance. At ESPE Manufacturing, we can produce a variety of Teflon® electrical insulation products, including:

    • Bearings
    • Bushings
    • Gears
    • Slide plates
    • Piston rings
    • Seals
    • O-rings
    • Spacers
    • And more

    Advantages and Benefits of Teflon® Parts

    There are many benefits of Teflon® parts, including:

    • Versatility. One of the primary benefits of Teflon® parts is their versatility, meaning it is suitable for an extensive range of applications and industries.
    • Corrosion resistance. Another key advantage of Teflon® parts is their corrosion resistance, which makes them especially useful for electrical insulation.
    • Water and oil resistance. Teflon® parts repel water and oil, which increases the lifetime of the part itself as well as the application it’s used in.
    • Non-stick. Teflon® is non-stick, meaning Teflon® parts are easy to clean, typically only requiring a wipe down.
    • Low friction. Teflon® parts exhibit low friction properties, which offer reduced wear and longer-lasting components. This makes Teflon® parts an excellent option for industrial applications involving parts or gears that slide against each other.
    • Dielectric properties and high melting point. The non-conductive properties and high melting point of Teflon® parts make them a popular choice for electrical wiring and insulation for a variety of industries.

    Teflon® Electrical Insulation from ESPE Manufacturing

    The significant advantages of Teflon® make it a natural choice for electrical insulation projects. Teflon® parts work longer and more effectively than alternatives and can easily be incorporated into a wide array of applications. ESPE Manufacturing offers a wide range of Teflon® fabrication services that can be customized to meet your application’s exact needs. We have a long history of delivering effective non-metallic solutions, and we possess one of the largest electrical insulation inventories in the Midwest. To learn more, view our catalog or contact us today.

  3. A Guide to Die Cutting vs. Laser Cutting vs. Digital Cutting

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    die cutting vs. laser cutting vs. digital cutting

    ESPE Manufacturing Co., Inc. is a fabrication company specializing in the production of electrical insulation materials and custom plastic components. Using advanced industrial die cutting and fabrication techniques, we manufacture washers, gaskets, bushings, and other high-quality parts from a wide range of non-metal materials. Our manufacturing capabilities also include electrical insulation parts and barriers that are designed and manufactured in compliance with strict quality and safety standards.

    The Methods of Die Cutting at ESPE

    Our die cutting services allow for the quick and efficient production of precise, uniform parts from various materials. To meet a range of customer specifications, we offer the following techniques:

    Flatbed or Steel Rule

    Flatbed die cutting, also referred to as steel rule die cutting, is a technique that involves cutting or perforating a custom shape from a workpiece using a flatbed press and steel rule. This type of die cutting is well-suited for handling thick materials, fabricating relatively large parts, and processing low-volume production runs. Compatible materials include everything from fabric, paper, plastic, and rubber to a variety of composites and laminates.

    Punch Press

    Punch press die cutting cuts or shapes parts from thin materials using a die set consisting of male and female dies. Placed on opposite sides of the workpiece, the two dies punch a hole through the material when mated. Punch pressing is ideal for producing hole-intensive parts, however, it is important to keep in mind that this process can generate a great deal of noise and is limited to materials with thicknesses under ¼ inch.

    With customizable dies and various material options, die cutting can be used to create parts for a wide range of applications. A few of the most common materials used to produce custom die-cut electrical insulation parts include:

    • Fishpaper. Lightweight and easy to manipulate, electrical-grade fishpaper is commonly used to fabricate high-strength insulating washers, gaskets, bushings, and other products that can withstand harsh environments.
    • ITW Formex®. With its superior dielectric strength and flame-retardant properties, Formex® is a great option for electrical insulation barriers.
    • Vulcanized fibre. Vulcanized fibre is an impact- and abrasion-resistant material that is well-suited for washers, switch and appliance insulation, gaskets, and automobile parts.
    • Nomex®. The unique heat-resistant synthetic fibers of Nomex® make it an excellent choice for the fabrication of chemical-, thermal-, and radiation-resistant parts used in aerospace, automotive, and electrical power applications.
    • Insulating polymers. Nylon, Teflon, Polycarbonate, PVC, and other electrically- or thermally-insulating polymers can be used to fabricate protective electrical elements such as electric cables, switch boxes, gears, seals, and bearings.

    types of laser cutting

    What are Different Types of Laser Cutting?

    Our laser cutting services include the following techniques:

    • Flying optics lasers. The flying optics laser cutting process involves holding the workpiece in place while a laser follows a computer-programmed path to make cuts along X and Y axes. The process is extremely fast and precise, making it ideal for projects requiring tight tolerances and quick turnaround times.
    • Moving material lasers. With moving material lasers, the workpiece moves along X and Y axes while a stationary laser beam performs the desired cuts. This type of laser cutting requires fewer optics than the other techniques and creates a consistent standoff distance between the beam source and workpiece.
    • Hybrid lasers. Combining the advantages of flying optics and moving material laser cutting, hybrid laser cutting involves moving a laser along the Y-axis while the workpiece moves along the X-axis. With this technique, a much more consistent beam delivery can be achieved, resulting in lower power consumption during the cutting process.

    Laser cutting offers several advantages over other cutting methods, including superior precision, flexibility, speed, and cost-effectiveness. This makes it a preferred fabrication choice across a wide range of industries, including:

    • Automotive. The speed, accuracy, and repeatability of laser cutting make it well-suited for fabricating instrument panels, electronic components, interior covers, and other automotive products that require a high level of consistency and uniformity.
    • Die, mold, and tool industries. Lasers can make cuts at various depths with exceptional accuracy, making laser cutting perfect for creating extremely accurate dies and high-precision injection molds. In the tool industry, laser cutting is used to fabricate simple hand tools and engrave logo designs on rubber tool handles.
    • Medical devices. Laser cutting is commonly used to manufacture small, high-precision parts that are incorporated into sophisticated medical devices, surgical instruments, and diagnostic tools.

    Digital Cutting

    Unlike conventional die cutting techniques, digital cutting makes precision cuts without the use of a die. This technique offers many of the same advantages as conventional die cutting, using bits, lasers, and small blades to make precise cuts, scores, and creases. Benefits of digital cutting include:

    • Quicker turnaround. Digital cutting enables faster production and shorter lead times since it eliminates the need to switch out die shapes.
    • Enhanced precision. The digitally controlled blades, lasers, and bits used to perform the cuts enable a higher level of precision.
    • Reduced costs. By eliminating the costs associated with manufacturing and using dies, digital cutting can be performed at a lower cost than conventional die cutting.
    • Software integration. Digital cutting is compatible with a wide range of software programs, and the integration process is relatively quick and straightforward. ESPE Manufacturing will machine directly from a range of file types so the shape you send is the part you receive.

    How Do They Compare?

    Die Cutting vs. Laser Cutting

    When deciding between die and laser cutting, it is important to consider the benefits and limitations of each method as it relates to your project’s needs. Some factors to consider include:

    • Cost and efficiency. Die cutting requires separate dies to perform each different type of cut, which can become expensive and time-consuming. An advantage of laser cutting is that the machine can be programmed to cut virtually any size or design without having to manufacture or change out dies. This makes it a cheaper and more cost-effective option for prototyping and small-scale production runs. For higher-volume production runs, however, die cutting can typically process materials at a faster rate and lower cost.
    • Material compatibility. While laser cutting is compatible with a wider range of materials, die cutting tends to be better suited for difficult-to-cut materials.
    • Design complexity. While die cutting is great for creating straightforward designs at high speeds, laser cutting is better suited for achieving more intricate or difficult patterns and details.

    Die Cutting vs. Digital Cutting

    Factors to consider when deciding between die cutting and digital cutting include:

    • Cost and efficiency.While tooling costs are more expensive with die cutting, using the die across a large volume of items helps offset this added expense. For this reason, die cutting tends to be more time- and cost-efficient for high-volume production runs, while digital cutting is better suited for low- to medium-volume runs.
    • Material compatibility. Digital cutting is generally preferred for processing thicker, tougher materials, while die cutting is better suited for thinner materials.
    • Design complexity.  When it comes to making highly intricate or detailed cuts, digital cutting tends to outperform die cutting. However, die cutting is the preferred method for rapidly and efficiently punching out a large volume of identical forms.

    Partner with ESPE Manufacturing!

    With a wide range of material options and cutting techniques available, ESPE offers customers the design flexibility to create custom parts in the most cost- and time-effective way possible. We can perform simple or complex cuts on a range of plastics, electrical insulators, and other non-metallic materials, producing high-quality products that conform to exact technical specifications and strict industry standards. Several decades of experience in our field allows us to provide personalized guidance and innovative solutions for the most complex design challenges.

    To learn more about our capabilities, please view our services pagecontact us, or request a quote today.

    plastics cutting & fabrication services

  4. What to Know About Electrical Insulating Materials

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    At ESPE Manufacturing, we specialize in the manufacture of high-quality custom plastic parts and products, including electrical insulating materials. We maintain an extensive inventory of non-metallic materials for use in our manufacturing operations and distribution to our customers. One of our core material offerings is electrical insulation. Below, we provide an overview of this material, including what it is, why it is needed, how it is used, typical applications, and types available.

    The 5 Basic Aspects of Electrical Insulation

    1. What Is Electrical Insulation?

    Electrical insulation refers to materials that do not allow electricity to flow through them freely (e.g., rubber or plastic). In contrast, conductors and semiconductors do allow electricity to flow through them freely (e.g., copper). This difference in performance stems from the difference in their resistivity. Electrical insulating materials have higher resistivity than semiconducting and conducting materials, which means electrons do not pass as easily through the former as they do through the latter.

    electrical insulating vs conducting materials

    2. Why Is It Needed?

    Electrical insulators help control the flow of electricity. They ensure energy reaches the desired destination within the system by acting as a barrier around the conductor, preventing the energy from straying from the preferred path. In doing so, they also prevent electricity from flowing to other components, which can cause short-circuiting or electrocution depending on the configuration of the system.

    3. A Glimpse at the Process

    The following illustration points out the process of electrical insulation:

    electrical insulation

    4. Applications That Use Electrical Insulation

    Some of the primary applications that require electrical insulation include:

    • Automotive components
    • Computers and computer peripherals
    • Consumer products
    • Conventional and uninterruptible power supplies
    • Electrical and power distribution systems
    • Lighting
    • Medical equipment
    • Telecommunications equipment

    5. Commonly Used Electrical Insulation Materials

    There are many types of electrical insulation materials available. Some of the most commonly used include:

    • Cardboard/Paper: These materials are a cost-effective option for insulation applications involving low heat and voltages.
    • Clay (ceramic or porcelain): This material is the standard for high-voltage and radio-frequency (RF) insulators.
    • Glass (limestone, silica, and soda ash): This material is used occasionally in low-voltage applications.
    • Mica: This material offers good electrical insulation and thermal conduction properties.
    • Perfluoroalkoxy (PFA): This material is flexible, transparent, and chemical resistant. It is commonly used in near-ocean applications due to its salt spray resistance.
    • Rubber: This material was used as an insulation in natural and synthetic variations up until the 1950s. However, it has since been largely replaced with plastics.

    The experts at ESPE Manufacturing fabricate a variety of custom parts and products from electrical insulation material. Check out the list below to see the material options available.

    Custom Manufactured Electrical Insulating Materials

    Electrical Insulation Material Offerings and Options at ESPE

    At ESPE, we utilize a wide range of electrical insulating materials in our custom manufacturing operations. The primary materials we work with are:

    • Formex: Formex is a brand of electrical insulation materials, all of which are made from flame-retardant polypropylene. They are a versatile and cost-effective solution for a variety of applications, ranging from consumer appliances and electronics to commercial data centers to industrial-scale systems.
    • Nomex: Nomex is a line of paper and pressboard insulation products. These meta-aramid polymer materials offer chemical, thermal, and radiation resistance in addition to their electrical insulation properties. They are commonly used in the aerospace, automotive, power generation, and marine industries.
    • Fishpaper/Vulcanized Fibre: Fishpaper is the generic term for electrical grade vulcanized fibre. It is lightweight, easy to work, and resistant to hot and cold conditions. It is often used in the production of components such as bushings, washers, gaskets, and more. Fibre is the generic term for commercial grade vulcanized fibre. It is hard, durable, and chemically pure and offers excellent strength, flexibility, and workability. It is often used in the manufacture of components such as gaskets, insulating plates, and washers.

    We also offer a variety of other types and grades of electrical insulating plastics and papers.

    ESPE Manufacturing: Your Expert and Partner for Electrical Insulation

    Electrical insulation is essential to ensuring electrical and electronic devices, equipment, and systems are safe. However, the type employed depends on the application, with different applications requiring different electrical resistivity and other physical, mechanical, chemical, and thermal properties. While determining which electrical insulating materials are right for your application can be difficult, the experts at ESPE Manufacturing are here to help.

    Whether you’re looking for an electrical insulation material supplier or a manufacturer of electrical insulating parts and products, we can meet your needs. To learn more about our material offerings and options, check out our material catalog. To discuss your material or manufacturing needs with one of our experts, contact us or request a quote today.

  5. Stamped Parts for Electrical Insulation

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    At ESPE Manufacturing Co., we provide high-quality electrical insulation materials and fabricated plastic parts. In addition to stocking and distributing a large inventory of non-metallic materials, we offer custom fabrication capabilities ranging from prototype to full production runs.

    Stamping is one of our fabrication specialties. We produce a wide range of stamped products made from electrical insulation and barrier materials—including ITW Formex®, ITW Statex®, and Nomex®—as well as from other non-metallic materials such as plastics and aramid papers.

    Stamping Process for Non-Metal and Plastic Parts

    Stamping is a manufacturing technique that involves using a custom-designed punch and die block set to punch out parts from the workpiece. The stock material—typically in strip or coil form—sits in-between the punch and the die block. Once the material is in position, the punch forces through it into the die block, stamping out the part.

    ESPE’s stamping operations include slitting the material down, then feeding it into the presses where the stamping takes place at 50-200 strokes per minute. In a single press stroke we can produce up to 5 blanked parts.

    When selecting a plastic or other non-metal material for a stamping operation, it is important to keep in mind a few factors to ensure optimal part performance and production. These considerations include the material’s:

    • Mechanical, electrical, magnetic, and thermal properties
    • Performance characteristics, including durability and performance under normal and high-stress operating conditions

    Careful consideration should also be taken for other design elements, including ensuring the design fulfills the absorption, compression, and alignment requirements of the application.

    A wide range of insulation materials are used in non-metal stamping operations, including:

    • ITW Formex® and ITW Statex®. These materials are suitable for applications with a high electrostatic discharge (ESD) profile. They are effective barriers to static electricity since they prevent its build-up and dissipate it. They are a good choice for parts used in computers, consumer electronic devices, medical equipment, solar energy components, and telecom appliances.
    • Nomex® paper. This material is used in flat-panel TVs, tablets, and mobile phones due to its excellent electrical and thermal insulation properties.
    • Fishpaper/vulcanized fiber. This material is lightweight and performs well in environments with alternating high and low temperatures. Some of the items commonly made using fishpaper include circuit breakers, gaskets, and bushings for motors.

    Two Advantages of Plastic Stamping for Electrical Barriers and Insulators

    There are a couple of advantages to using stamping for manufacturing non-metallic parts and products, such as electrical barriers and insulators. These advantages include:

    • Higher accuracy and tighter tolerances. Depending on the state of the die, the stamping process can produce high volumes of identical parts with very strict tolerances.
    • Greater reusability and flexibility. Although the initial process of producing a custom die set is time-consuming, once a die is ready, it can be used for multiple production runs or swapped out quickly for different parts. At ESPE, these process qualities allow us to offer our customers a typical lead time of 5–15 days with emergency and rush options on a case-by-case basis.

    Applications of Stamped Electrical Barriers and Insulators

    Due to its numerous advantages, stamping finds application in a wide range of industries. Industries that utilize stamped electrical barriers and insulators include:

    • Aerospace
    • Agriculture
    • Architecture
    • Automotive
    • Defense and military
    • Dental and medical
    • Electronics
    • Food and beverage
    • Machine tools
    • Marine
    • Oil and gas
    • Packaging
    • Renewable energy

    Stamped Insulation Solutions From ESPE Manufacturing

    Stamping is a quick and cost-effective method of manufacturing high volumes of high-quality non-metallic parts, including electrical barriers and insulators.

    As an industry-leading supplier of electrical insulation and barrier materials, ESPE has the knowledge and experience to fabricate custom parts from these substrates. Our stamping capabilities allow us to form parts from these and other non-metallic substrates.

    To learn more about our stamping capabilities or to partner with us on your next project, contact us or request a quote today. We typically respond to quote requests in 24 hours or less.

  6. Is There a Difference Between Blanking & Punching?

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    At ESPE Manufacturing Co., Inc., we provide a wide range of high quality stamping services for a broad spectrum of materials, including nylon, vulcanized fibre, and neoprene. Our robust, quality-driven stamping capabilities include:

    • Forming: This process utilizes forces such as compression, shear, and tension to deform and ultimately transform materials into desired shapes or forms.
    • Scoring: Scoring employs a machine tool to cut a groove into the substrate. The groove is then utilized to facilitate other processes, such as acting as a breakage point, decorative flourish, or guideline for a finishing operation.
    • Impression stamping
    • Blanking
    • Punching

    The similarities between the two latter processes often lead many to wonder: “Is there a difference between blanking and punching non-metals?” The following information will answer that question.

    Blanking vs. Punching

    Both blanking and punching are material forming processes that involve the precise removal of material from a workpiece. The main difference between the two processes lies in the end product produced.

    In blanking operations, the final part or product is removed or “punched-out” out of the larger sheet material, with the remaining material being discarded as scrap. On the other hand, in punching operations, the material removed is discarded, and the final product is the remaining material which then undergoes further processing.

    Delineating between blanking and punching is analogous to the following:

    • If you punch a hole out of a piece of paper and keep the circular piece, then you have blanked the paper.
    • If you keep the sheet of paper and throw away the punched-out piece, then you have punched the paper.

    Another difference between the two processes is how manufacturers approach processing the initial sheet material. In a punching operation, they typically remove the smallest amount of material necessary from the original workpiece to minimize material waste. In contrast, blanking operations are most efficient when the maximum amount of material is removed from the workpiece.

    Punching and blanking are both highly cost-effective production methods for medium to high volume orders. While the punched out slug in a punching process may not be part of further operations, in many cases it can be recycled or otherwise reused, resulting in significant cost savings.

    Which Blanking and Punching Materials for Manufacturing Do We Provide?

    At ESPE, we use several materials in our blanking and punching operations. The three primary materials that we work with are:

    • Formex:This is a highly versatile, flame-retardant electrical insulating material.
    • NomexThis material’s meta-aramid polymers provide excellent electrical insulation, as well as chemical, thermal, and radiation resistance. Nomex also offers enhanced strength and durability.
    • Vulcanized Fibre/FishpaperElectrical grade vulcanized fibre, or fishpaper, has many unique properties, including a lightweight design, ease of forming and punching, and resistance to heat or cold. ESPE’s fishpaper is comparable to other brands of vulcanized fibre, such as NVF’s Forbon brand, or Spaulding Composites’ Armite brand.

    Partnering with Blanking and Punching Experts

    While at first glance, blanking and punching may seem like identical processes, there are subtle but significant differences between the two, both in intent and in operation.

    As an industry leader in electrical insulation materials and fabricated plastic parts, ESPE Manufacturing Co., Inc. has the experience and expertise to provide both blanking and punching services to each of our customers. Family owned and operated since 1948, ESPE is here to serve all of your fabrication needs. Our commitment to providing excellent service and delivering premium products has made us the top choice for many companies in need of customized non-metallic parts.

    If you’d like to learn more, contact us, or request a quote today.

    Blanking vs. Punching | ESPE Manufacturing

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