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By Sandy Dick | Jul 12, 2018
Value-added assembly for iSolved's time clock

iSolved, a US-based company providing scalable solution to human capital management needs, was developing a series of backlit time clock devices. However, they quickly ran into problems with LED hotspots and approached GMN to develop a graphic overlay prototype to get rid of the lighting issue.

Developing a product with multiple suppliers and manufacturing facilities can be a time-consuming and expensive ordeal. But, GMN’s holistic approach to building devices and its reputation as a one-call, one-stop-manufacturer allowed iSolved to bring substantial cost and time savings to the project, while meeting all of their functional and cosmetic requirements.

GMN not only manufactured a scratch-resistant overlay to mask the hotspots, but also streamlined the project using its varied capabilities including capacitive touch circuit, backlighting, die-cutting, LCD display, and touchscreen.

To learn more about how GMN delivered a value-added, cost-effective solution, download our case study here.

Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Jun 28, 2018
Brush finished sill plate

Looking to add a subtle, yet eye-catching decorative element to your metal component? Look no further than brush finish! GM Nameplate (GMN) specializes in metal decoration, and one attribute we commonly add to metal is a mechanical brush finish. Performed at the front-end of the manufacturing process, a brush finish consists of many unidirectional lines creating a clean, consistent blanket over the surface of the metal. Applied to either stainless steel or aluminum, brush finishes are often combined with other decoration enhancements such as ElectraGraphics, embossing, and Lensclad, to name a few. Used in a wide range of products, brush finish is particularly prevalent in the electronics, home appliances, and automotive industries.

GMN recently created a video to demonstrate the brush finish process and give you a glimpse into the various looks that can be achieved. The video features our brushing line that’s operated at our Monroe, NC Division.

As you can see in the video, sheets of raw metal are fed into a machine having a large abrasive brushing wheel over it. The brush creates many fine linear abrasions on the sheet, reflecting light in a unique way. There are many design options to consider as well, including selecting a brush texture ranging from fine to heavy, or applying the finish to the metal overall or selectively. For selective finishes, a resist ink is screen-printed onto the metal sheets before the metal is brushed. The resist protects the desired area from being brushed, thus creating an interesting contrast within the design. The contrasting look results solely from the difference in the textures and the way light reflects off of the surface.

After brushing, the metal sheet is washed and dried to remove any residue or oil, and then an operator quickly inspects the sheet for any apparent defects as it continues down the line. A roll-coater can also be set up to apply a tinted or clear coating in-line onto the metal to enhance its durability or appearance. In the video, a tinted coating is applied to the aluminum to make it look slightly grayer. Since stainless steel can be more costly at times, this is a cost-effective way to make aluminum mimic the appearance of stainless steel. 

Finally, the sheets go through an oven, and are again visually examined for any imperfections. This final inspection marks the completion of applying the brush finish, and the metal is now ready to move onto the next process.

To see the brush finishing process, click on the video below.

By Kenny Pravitz | Jun 12, 2018
Plastic decorating options at GMN

What makes plastic decoration at GMN unique? Along with dedicated engineers to support your projects from concept to creation, state-of-the-art equipment, a robust quality system, and complementary capabilities to plastic injection molding like value-added assembly, GMN provides all the decorating options for plastics under a single roof.

To determine the most appropriate plastic decoration technique for any application, there are multiple factors that go into consideration, including the plastic type, environmental requirements (exposure to fluctuating temperatures, humidity, and moisture), component dimensions, cosmetic requirements, regulatory requirements, and production volume. In this blog, we will be skimming over all the plastic decorating options available at GMN to understand their core advantages and pitfalls.

1) Pad printing - In this printing process, the image is engraved on a plate which is then coated with ink and transferred to the desired surface via a silicone pad.

Advantages:

    • Same set-up for multi-color
    • Can accommodate fine artwork and detailed graphics

Disadvantages:

    • Difficult to print on heavy textures or surface finishes
    • Cannot pad print on swooping or curved surfaces
    • Cannot use metallic inks
    • Size restrictions

 

2) Screen printing - In this method, the artwork is transferred on to the plastic surface using a mesh screen and a squeegee.   

Advantages:

    • Quick set-up time
    • Can accommodate larger artwork
    • Ideal for high-volume production

Disadvantages:

    • Can only be performed on flat surfaces
    • Needs different screens for different colors
    • Longer curing times
    • Challenging to achieve finely detailed graphics

 

3) Hot stamping - This dry printing technique utilizes heat and pressure to transfer colored foil onto the plastic surface.     

Advantages:

    • No ink-mixing or curing of part required
    • Can accommodate metallic colors

Disadvantages:

    • Ribbon can be expensive due to the minimum order of quantity (MOQ)
    • Raised surfaces only
    • Size restrictions

 

4) Laser etching - As the name indicates, this technique employs a laser beam to etch a design on the plastic surface which would have otherwise been difficult to mark mechanically.

Advantages:

    • Details are permanently etched into the surface of the part
    • Ideal for products with barcodes, lot numbers, backlighting, or intricate artwork

Disadvantages:

    • Longer cycle times depending on size and detail of the image
    • Size restrictions

 

5) Spray painting - Often used in conjunction with laser etching, spray painting utilizes either an automated robotic spray or manual hand-spray method to apply the ink on the desired parts. 

Advantages:

    • Can hide flaws on the plastic surface
    • Can utilize the manual method for low-volume to mid-volume production and utilize the automated method for high-volume production
    • Can accommodate multiple colors and materials

Disadvantages:

    • Detailed masking may be required, making the process labor intensive
    • Requires a clean environment
    • Requires longer lead time

 

6) In-mold decoration (IMD) - This advanced technique allows for the printing of highly durable and complex three-dimensional shapes.  

Advantages:

    • Can achieve compound curves and complex 3D forms
    • Well suited for designs incorporating small windows or backlighting  
    • Offers versatile decoration options
    • Ideal for high-wear applications

Disadvantages:

    • Development phase can be long depending on the design
    • Automation can be expensive
Lauren Rowles, GMN
By Lauren Rowles | May 16, 2018
2017 Boeing Performance Excellence Award

GM Nameplate’s (GMN) aerospace group, GMN Aerospace, was recognized with the 2017 Boeing Performance Excellence Award by The Boeing Company. This latest honor instills a great sense of pride within GMN because it marks the tenth consecutive year that we have received this award. This achievement represents the high standards GMN has operated at and maintained over the past decade in order to consistently align with our customer’s needs and adhere to strict quality and delivery requirements.

To learn more, read our full press release GMN Aerospace receives tenth consecutive Boeing Performance Excellence Award

Clark Mehan
By Clark Mehan | May 11, 2018
Faraday electric bike

Faraday Bicycles is a manufacturer of premium-quality electric bikes, or e-bikes. Located below the seat of each Faraday bike is an electronic component box that assists riders with pedaling. With these components being very important to the bike’s core functionality, Faraday needed to make sure the box was properly sealed and protected, which was where GM Nameplate (GMN) came in. The seal had to be waterproof so the bike could be rideable in various weather conditions, such as the rain. It also had to be strong enough so no one could access or tamper with the components inside the box. Finally, vibration had to be minimized within the box so the components wouldn’t be damaged. Therefore, with GMN’s extensive knowledge on adhesive materials and years of experience in producing die-cut components, Faraday asked GMN to help them find the optimal solution for their application.

To learn more about how GMN supported Faraday, read our new case study.

By Jim Badders | May 8, 2018
GMN exhibits at Display Week 2018 show

GMN, in collaboration with Mildex Optical, will be exhibiting at the Society of Information Display’s Display Week 2018 show in booth #404. The event will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 22nd to May 24th.

Display Week provides a great opportunity to showcase GMN’s recent developments and technologies in display integration. Some of the unique capabilities that will be featured in the booth this year include:

    • Touch screen technologies
    • Liquid optically clear adhesive (LOCA) bonding
    • Optically clear adhesive (OCA) bonding
    • Display bezels and enclosures
    • Value-added assembly

GMN’s work in front panel integration has been recognized by John Deere with the Partner-level Supplier status for the last five years. GMN has also recently entered into a partnership with Mildex Optical to open doors to a new optical bonding facility in Taiwan. With an emphasis on simplified logistics, reduced lead times, and cost effectiveness, this expansion of our global services will allow us to offer worldwide access to custom bonding solutions.

We are happy to set up meetings during the show or schedule lunch-&-learn sessions to share with you our latest bonding, front panel integration, and value-added assembly solutions. If you are curious to learn how the new partnership with Mildex can benefit you, or would like to discuss your upcoming manufacturing needs, reach out to us directly at info@gmnameplate.com to schedule a meeting with our technical experts.

By Kenny Pravitz | May 3, 2018
Value-added assembly is a process where the value of an article is increased at each stage of manufacturing.

There are typically a variety of pieces and processes involved in making a complete part. As a result, customers sometimes require several different suppliers to make each specific component of the assembly. Even smaller products can have a long list of components and suppliers. During the manufacturing process, costs can vary greatly and the time it takes for products to be completed depends on a range of factors, one of them being how long the supply chain is. In general, a shorter supply channel means your products will get to market quicker, with fewer costs. A great way to shorten your supply chain can be to partner with suppliers that offer value-added processes, or can provide multiple different services or aspects of production.

Value-add can be defined as a process where the value of an article is increased at each stage of its manufacturing, bringing an enhanced benefit and cost savings to the customer.

As a value-added supplier, GM Nameplate’s (GMN) plastics division in Beaverton, OR created a video that demonstrates the value-added assembly process of a medical part. In this video, you can see the stages that these molded parts go through to reach the completed subassembly. Similar to most projects at GMN’s plastics division, the process begins with injection molding. Once that part is molded, it can be decorated, depending on what the customer wants. Offering different decorating options, such as screen printing or hot stamping, after a part is formed is an example of a value-added benefit.

In the video, an operator can be seen placing 17 brass inserts in different bosses of the molded part. To make sure the inserts are properly installed every time, the operator places the molded part in a poka-yoke (Japanese term for “mistake-proofing”) fixture. The molded part will only fit in the fixture one way, so the operator installs the inserts into the correct bosses. These inserts are then heat staked, where a heating element makes contact with each brass insert. The insert then transfers heat to the boss, melting the plastic around the screw. This enables the screw to be removed without stripping the plastic.

Next, the video shows the part being placed in another fixture where a three-camera vision system verifies all the inserts were properly installed. This vision system also has a poka-yoke fixture to ensure consistent verification. Once the vision system notifies the operator that all inserts were properly installed, the part moves to the next value-add station. We see the molded part moved to an assembly fixture where a blue latch-spring component (which is also injection molded by GMN) is assembled to the main plastic enclosure. After this, an operator installs gasketing to the perimeter of the part. Finally, the part is inspected and then packaged for shipment.

From beginning to end, multiple different components and processes were used to make this part, all under one roof. This added value allows customers a cost savings as well as a streamlined supply chain, as several components were completed by one manufacturer, instead of multiple vendors for each individual operation. GMN takes a holistic approach to building your device, and the breadth and depth of our internal capabilities bring increased control, predictability, and reduced costs to your supply chain.

To watch this process in action, click play on the video below. 

By Chris Doyle | Apr 30, 2018
ElectraGraphic nameplates

ElectraGraphics is the process of plating stainless steel with chrome or gold to create a raised or recessed image. Bringing together a handsome blend of elegance and durability, the meticulous procedure of electroplating creates a low-profile, three-dimensional nameplate with crisp details. Suited for small parts with detailed graphics, the process handles fine lines and intricate designs very well. If you are looking for a high-end identification piece that communicates quality and luxury, ElectraGraphics is the undoubted answer.

Depending on the design, the process of creating an ElectraGraphic nameplate can combine one or both of the following stages:

a) Screen printing: The stainless-steel sheet that forms the base of the nameplate is first screen printed with the desired colors. With this process, any combination of colors can be added to the design. However, if the design doesn’t require any colors, the nameplate can directly proceed to the next process.

b) Photo-imaging: Photo-imaging is performed only if there is any bare stainless steel exposing through the nameplate that is not electroplated. The steel can have multiple decorative finishes including brushed, satin, and spin. In this process, the steel sheet (plain, decorated, or screen-printed) is brought to a dark room where it is entirely laminated with a photo-resist, a photo-sensitive material. The area that needs to be electroplated is masked and the resist in the remaining portion is cured by exposing it to light. Finally, the entire sheet is cleaned with a high pH solution. The solution reacts with the resist on masked area that wasn’t affected by light, eventually showing off the bare metal. This masked portion of the nameplate is then electroplated in the next stage.

After screen printing and/or photo-imaging, the stainless-steel sheet is thoroughly cleaned in an anodic bath to get rid of any oil, finger prints, or contamination. It is then sequentially dipped in four different plating tanks - nickel wood strike, copper, nickel sulfate, and chrome (or 24-karat gold, depending on the design). Electroplating remains the most crucial phase because it not only gives the nameplates a shiny metallic look, but also makes them resistant to corrosion. Any unwanted variances in this process can severely impact the adherence of the plating layers, thus affecting the longevity of the nameplates. Hence, the temperature of the plating tanks, voltage, and the length of immersion is closely controlled for every application.

As a custom-manufacturer of nameplates, GMN has worked with several leading companies including Starbucks, HP, Boeing, IBM, Cadillac, Fluke, and Konami to create ElectraGraphic nameplates of unmatched quality and consistency. The metallic elegance of these one-of-a-kind nameplates continues to attract a wide range of industries such as consumer electronics, computer and office equipment, musical instruments, cosmetics packaging, and hand-held appliances.

Autumn Santa Ana, Director of Corporate Quality & Regulations
By Autumn Santa Ana | Apr 26, 2018
GMN upgrades to AS9100D:2016 certification

GM Nameplate (GMN) is thrilled to have received AS9100D:2016 certification in April 2018. This latest certification, applies to a multi-site certificate for three GMN facilities including the Seattle, WA Division, San Jose, CA Division, and Beaverton, OR Division. It symbolizes GMN’s dedication to continuous improvement and the desire to exceed customer quality expectations.

What is AS9100?

AS9100 is an aerospace Quality Management System (QMS) standard. It is based on the international QMS standard ISO 9001, and provides additional requirements specific to the aerospace industry. In a sector governed by federal aviation, space and defense regulations, a AS9100 QMS helps businesses to adapt to the evolving needs and requirements of the aerospace industry. It not only provides a framework for businesses to operate, but also provides customers with confidence about the quality and reliability of the products they receive.

What is AS9100 Rev D?

The international QMS standards are regularly updated to stay relevant to industry needs and adapt to emerging trends. The latest update from AS9100 Rev C to Rev D was released in September 2016 and companies have until September 2018 to transition to the new standard. The revision also aligns the AS9100 standard to the newest revision of ISO 9001 which was released in 2015. AS9100 Rev D puts the spotlight on creating value for customers by integrating QMS requirements into the company’s business processes. During this latest update, significant areas of revision pertain to product safety, counterfeit prevention, risk management, human factors, and configuration management.

GMN’s commitment to quality

GMN first added AS9100 certification to its list of quality certifications in 2007 to support the dynamic needs of the aerospace industry and the customers we serve, like The Boeing Company. GMN underwent an extensive eight-day upgrade audit at its multiple manufacturing sites to obtain the AS9100 Rev D certification. Advancing to the new revision represents our compliance with the most current set of requirements of the rigorous aerospace standards. Conformance to these standards ensures that GMN maintains the highest level of product quality and process control in its manufacturing facilities. After all, quality is an ongoing process.

By Chris Doyle | Apr 17, 2018
Lensclad or thin-doming technology

Lensclad, also known as thin doming, is a proprietary solution by GMN that creates visually-striking and durable nameplates. Compatible with aluminum substrates, the process of Lensclad involves the application of a clear urethane topcoat that encapsulates the entire nameplate. The coating not only shields the nameplate from challenging conditions such as dust, gravel, temperature fluctuations, and humidity, but also adds significant scuff and mar resistance. It also acts as a lens, thus magnifying the underlying colors and features of the design.

Meeting at the crossroads of functionality and aesthetics, Lensclad is a self-healing technology. While all nameplates experience scratches, dents, or chip damage over time, this self-healing technology allows nameplates to absorb damages and restore itself back to its original form. The protective coating is formulated using UV inhibitors which helps it to stay clear and prevents it from yellowing. By enduring most of the “real world” harsh environments, Lensclad averts everyday wear and tear from deteriorating the overall quality of the nameplate.

Lensclad can be applied on flat or curved profiles, and embossed or debossed graphics, making it ideal for a diverse range of products and industries. The strength and durability of Lensclad doming enables the nameplate to withstand heavy impacts and corrosive environments. The technology also meets the rigorous requirements of automotive performance standards, making it a great choice for outdoor applications including cars, boats, and industrial equipment. Cosmetically speaking, Lensclad enhances the look of the nameplate, making it an equally great choice for indoor applications such as consumer goods, home appliances, cosmetic packaging, and car interiors.

Lensclad adds a thickness of 0.008” to the nameplate. This technology gives us the flexibility to vary the hardness of the urethane coating to fit the application. A thicker version of Lensclad, known as magni-lens, is also available, which adds a thickness of 0.060” to the nameplate. While the manufacturing process of magni-lens nameplates varies from that of Lensclad, it eventually offers the same functionality. For applying the thick doming, a nozzle filled with urethane coating applies the resin while moving across the surface of the nameplate. The resin gradually “wets out” the entire surface and dries over a period of 24 hours. The thickness of the nozzle head, the amount of resin it meters out, the direction in which the nozzle moves, and the time it takes to travel across the surface of the nameplate is customized and programmed for every unique application.

GMN has manufactured Lensclad nameplates for several well-known companies including Ford, MAC cosmetics, Honda, Excel dryers, and Estee Lauder to name a few. This performance-driven and cost-effective solution from GMN is truly a game-changer in elevating and preserving the look of your nameplates over time.

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