Are you in need of a highly durable and high-end looking nameplate? Then look no further than Metalphoto. This incredibly dependable and innovative material is gaining popularity in highly regulated industries such as defense, transportation, industrial and aerospace.
What is Metalphoto?
Metalphoto is a specific type of anodized aluminum used to make nameplates, labels, control panels, serial plates, placards and asset tags. Originally developed for the US Navy in the 1950's and specified by most major OEMs, it is one of the most durable identification materials available today. Our latest video demonstrates the step-by-step process in which Metalphoto components are fabricated.
To begin the Metalphoto process, all that is needed is a digital art file. This art file is transferred via laser onto a pure 1100 alloy aluminum sheet, which can range in thickness between 0.003” to 0.125”. The sheet is then put through a processor that develops the artwork on the photosensitive aluminum. Although Metalphoto images and text are primarily black, additional colors can be screen-printed at this time.
The graphics are exposed and developed like a photograph inside of the anodized aluminum, which causes it to become a part of the nameplate. This unique production method provides the unparalleled durability that Metalphoto is known for. Finally, the parts are placed in a nickel sulfite tank to seal the sliver-based graphics underneath the sapphire-hard anodic layer. All graphics and text on a Metalphoto component are sealed inside of the anodic layer, making it ideal for any identification material where maintaining legibility is crucial. Metalphoto comes in four different finishes: matte, satin, gloss and a #4 brushed finish that resembles stainless steel.
The benefits of Metalphoto
Metalphoto has several advantages over alternatives such as engraved or printed steel. It can sustain an outdoor life of 20+ years, can withstand temperatures in excess of 750°F and is specifically designed to be salt spray and chemical resistant. It is also is resistant to over 7,000 cycles of abrasion.
In addition, the graphics on Metalphoto are significantly higher in resolution than those on etched steel. The method of using a projected image makes any letters, numbers, symbols and pictures extremely legible and appear as crisp and clean as a photograph. Metalphoto is also less expensive than stainless steel in lower quantities, especially for variable data runs. Unlike steel nameplates, it does not require individual engraving, punching or laser marking for variability in images or information. Using the computerized imaging process also makes Metalphoto perfect for serialization, as it does not affect the process or price to customize each Metalphoto plate.
GMN has been a certified converter of Metalphoto for over 40 years and has been provided Metalphoto solutions to several companies including Boeing, Starbucks, Inovus Solar, Lockheed Martin Corporation and more. To see the Metalphoto production process in action, watch our video below.
From luggage bin markers to seat row coupons, the interior of any aircraft comprises of several molded plastic parts. Primarily, there are three ways of printing graphics and texts on molded components namely screen printing, pad printing, and dye sublimation. However, each technique presents its own set of challenges and restrictions. For instance, screen and pad printing are not only time-consuming but also require a high set up cost. As you need different screens (or cliché plates) for even the smallest variation in artwork and color, the market for customization is highly prohibitive. On the other hand, dye sublimation makes it difficult to control color in the artwork and requires special equipment to process plastic. In addition to increased development costs, it doesn’t leave much room for customization either.
To overcome all the above limitations, GMN Aerospace has developed a proprietary technology that allows us to print on slightly contoured or curved surfaces. It also enables us to efficiently customize graphics without increasing tooling costs or processing time. The printed graphics in any aircraft are routinely subjected to harsh cleaning agents. The in-house technology utilizes Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) approved inks, thereby preventing the graphics from fading or scratching over time. Supporting the OEM qualification approval process, it also meets the flammability testing and requirements that ensure protection for compartment interiors.
In a nutshell, the proprietary printing process provides our customers with the following benefits –
- Ability to print on slightly contoured surfaces
- Flexibility to customize graphics in a cost-effective manner
- Accommodate low to high volume projects
- Improve durability with abrasion and chemical resistant graphics
GMN Aerospace has always been in the vanguard of embracing new technologies and employing efficient processes. After years of research and development, GMN Aerospace has given flight to this proprietary technology to meet the sophisticated needs of the aerospace industry. By reducing lead time and controlling development costs, the in-house technology is a step ahead in providing more value to our customers.
While the process is currently reserved for decorating plastic molded components within the cabin, GMN Aerospace looks forward to taking this technology to the exterior of the aircraft in the days to come. Envisioning the process to print raised and embossed graphics in the future, the technical experts at GMN see it gaining popularity over the existing techniques such as screen printing and in-mold decoration.
To learn about GMN Aerospace’s custom injection molding capabilities, visit our website here.
On October 12th, nearly 100 GMN employees and family members joined the Puget Sound Heart Walk community in support of fighting heart disease. The GMN team walked in honor of someone affected by heart disease or stroke, and to celebrate a healthy lifestyle.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and responsible for several disabilities. Envisioning a world free of cardiovascular diseases, the Heart and Stroke Walk is the American Heart Association’s (AHA) annual event for raising funds to save lives from heart disease and stroke.
The 2019 Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk featured a 5k untimed walk, 1k survivor walk, interactive health booths, and more! GMN has been actively participating and contributing to AHA’s mission since 2012. Like every year, the generous donations from the employees were matched by the Root family foundation, thereby doubling our impact. Funds raised for the AHA are used for research and education to help overcome cardiovascular disease, which claims more lives than cancer and car accidents combined. Funded research in the past has led to the development of pacemakers, artificial heart valves, bypass surgery, and blood pressure medication. Thanks to technological discoveries and education initiatives spearheaded by the AHA, phenomenal progress has been made in reducing a range of heart ailments.
Here’s a big shout out to the entire GMN team for heart-walking and fundraising for such a great cause. GMN is extremely proud to support AHA’s mission in raising awareness, inspiring action, and making a lasting impact on our lives.
This morning, GMN had the pleasure of hosting Brian Canfield, CEO of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA), at our Seattle, WA Division. During the meeting, Brian Canfield recognized GMN’s continued support and contribution to the PNAA’s scholarship program.
PNAA is a non-profit organization aimed towards promoting and strengthening the Pacific Northwest aerospace community. Committed to workforce development, PNAA’s scholarship program gives wings to eligible students in pursuing their careers in the aerospace industry. Sharing the same vision with PNAA, GMN has been a donor to the scholarship fund since 2016. Every year, GMN donates in memory of our long-time employee, Brent Sletmoe, who worked on the GMN Aerospace team for several years.
In a closely-knit industry such as the aerospace, GMN realizes the importance of supporting the next generation and helping build the future workforce. GMN’s donation in 2019 has helped qualified students from accredited universities in paying for books, supplies, tuition, and other college expenses. The students are currently pursuing varied careers within the aerospace industry including supply chain management, air traffic control, engineering, and design.
GMN is truly honored to support PNAA’s vision of a brighter future and looks forward to a fruitful partnership in the years to come.
GMN Aerospace announced today that it has received the 2018 Boeing Performance Excellence Award (BPEA). The BPEA is The Boeing Company’s annual program that recognizes suppliers who have demonstrated high-performance standards.
In accordance with Boeing’s Supplier Performance Measurement rating system, all suppliers were rated on key parameters including delivery, quality, engineering, cost, and support services. Among its vast network of over 13,000 global suppliers, The Boeing Company recognized 382 suppliers this year who achieved either a Gold or Silver level BPEA. With a quality and delivery rating of over 99 percent, GMN Aerospace maintained a Silver composite performance rating for each month of the 12-month performance period, from October 2017 to September 2018.
The 2018 BPEA award is GMN Aerospace’s eleventh consecutive time receiving the prestigious recognition. Over the past year, GMN Aerospace has delivered over 1.5 million pieces to The Boeing Company, supporting all their commercial programs, as well as Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Boeing Global Services (BGS). GMN supplied over 70,000 unique part numbers including interior and exterior mandatory markers and placards, injection molded plastics components, and other integrated assemblies.
“Receiving this recognition from The Boeing Company for the eleventh consecutive time is truly momentous. It lucidly reflects GMN’s unwavering commitment to exceeding customer expectations,” said Daniel Munson, Aerospace Fabrication Lead at GMN Aerospace. “It requires a genuine team effort to achieve this level of quality, service, and support for Boeing. I feel so fortunate to work with such passionate and creative people who continue to improve and innovate each day.”
As a proud partner of The Boeing Company for over 50 years, GMN Aerospace is honored to be able to contribute to the success of one of the largest and most influential aerospace companies in the world.
GM Nameplate (GMN) recently added design and development authority to its AS9100D certification. Overall, the AS9100D certification is a Quality Management System (QMS) standard that is specific to meeting the rigorous needs and requirements of the aerospace industry. GMN has been certified under the AS9100 QMS standard since 2007, but the addition of the design and development authority included within our certification as well is a newer development.
So, what does this design and development certification mean to our customers? It means that we are not only in compliance with the latest set of stringent aerospace quality standards, but we are also now certified to take on design ownership of your graphic and functional products.
This certification ensures that we have a robust quality system in place to manage your new project from the quoting process, to design, manufacturing, final testing, inspection, and delivery. Before receiving this design authority, GMN was still qualified to handle all aspects of customer’s projects throughout the entire manufacturing process, however, we were limited to only providing design support and guidance. Customers would come to us with a pre-determined design or concept and we would offer direction on how to manufacture the product. Now, GMN is certified to offer full-scale design and product development services to our customers. Customers can come to us with a rough napkin sketch or basic performance specifications and we can partner with them to design and develop their desired product from scratch. With the high stakes that come with aerospace manufacturing, GMN has the experience, knowledge, and capabilities to aid our customers in designing high-quality products and is confident in our ability to drive and take ownership of that process from conception through final production.
To quickly summarize how this process unfolds, we start with our quoting process, gathering customer input to perform an in-depth design review. We then decide on what processes and materials will be needed, followed by verification and validation of the final design. Once our engineering team has verified that we’ve met all the customer’s requirements, a manufacturing package is assembled and forwarded to the customer service team for entry into our production process for manufacturing. The product is then built, tested, inspected, and delivered!
For any aerospace product, the design phase is undoubtedly the most crucial phase of the manufacturing process because that’s where instrumental specifications for quality, safety, design, and functionality are determined. If the proper quality planning and control systems are not established during this stage, it can have adverse effects on the rest of the manufacturing process. With this new design and development certification, GMN has proven that we have the necessary quality system and design procedures in operation to effectively and repeatedly meet the strict standards expected within the aerospace industry.
If you have an upcoming project that you’d like to explore with GMN, contact us today to meet with our in-house experts.
This year, I had the opportunity to speak at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) Women in Aerospace Conference on May 2nd. Accompanied by nine of my teammates, the overall conference had approximately 300 attendees and 23 speakers from over 108 companies. This marked the first time that a member of the GMN Aerospace team has spoken at this event. My speech was centered around the topic of “Expanding your horizons – Getting outside your comfort zone.”
I’d like to thank GMN for letting me show my determination to go after what I may not be qualified for on paper but have a willingness to learn and be coached on to reach my goals, even when they are outside of my comfort zone or not listed in my job requirements. The more we grow, so does our value. Make a list of your experiences and post it somewhere you can see it daily to remind you of where you’ve been and where you’re striving to go and use that motivation to make it happen.
Within the competitive landscape of the aerospace industry, GMN Aerospace constantly strives to meet our commitments to our customer’s specifications and quality standards. After experiencing an increase in our statement of work over the past year, about 25% of the work produced by GMN Aerospace was supported by short-flow and aircraft on ground (AOG) requests. This translated to our team delivering over two million parts to more than 300 customers in 2018. During this time, the GMN Aerospace team is proud to have maintained a consistent quality rating of 99%.
GMN Aerospace is always looking for ways to improve our internal processes to better meet our customer’s needs and produce products of the highest quality. That’s why we invest heavily in lean manufacturing initiatives such as our Value Stream Team (VST) events and collaborative customer engagement.
In addition to the insights gained from listening to our customers, our team is extremely thankful for the collaboration and teamwork that we experienced with our customers throughout the past year, which played a role in our ability to sustain high quality ratings. As we look to the year ahead of us, we are excited to continue to uphold strong quality ratings and grow our relationships with our customers.
At GMN Aerospace, we continually focus on ways to enhance our lean manufacturing and waste reduction efforts, including activities such as our value-stream team (VST) events in collaboration with our customers. So, when I came into the fold at GM Nameplate (GMN) as the new supervisor of the aerospace quality assurance team, I planned to take measures to make any improvements possible within the quality assurance team and process. During my initial introduction, I observed a team with a high degree of focus and quality of work, with an opportunity for an increase in morale as well.
To begin, my first priority was to listen to my team. Once a week for six weeks, I asked my team members to give me a suggestion on how to improve their work in any way. Following each round of submissions, I immediately acted upon the suggestions that were feasible.
Next, I worked on cross-training the team on the various types of quality assurance that occur within our department. This effort helps to ensure the work load is evenly distributed and allows us to continue to produce high-quality results even when a team member is absent.
I then focused on improvements to our work area, including changing the way that our desk pods are situated and more efficiently organizing supplies. We are forming contingencies to make the best use of the space possible and to create a more peaceful and productive work environment.
In addition, we started to consider reinstating the “Jet Line process,” wherein the responsibility for a single job is split between two team members. The last time this strategy was implemented, we experienced a 20% increase in production. Therefore, moving forward, I am looking into altering a few work protocols in order to fit in the “Jet Line process” within our department.
Finally, I reviewed an ergonomic assessment that had been conducted by workplace performance experts. In this assessment I uncovered instructions to implement a five-minute mini-break. During this five-minute break, you can stretch your body, shift your mood, have a laugh, take a few deep breaths, or change your perspective (by looking somewhere besides your screen). You can use it to recharge your batteries, reduce the negative effects of stress, and reconnect to your sense of well-being.
As a result, I initialized a once-per-hour five-minute mini-break for our group. The response was immediate and extremely positive.
Led by a different team member at the top of each hour, my entire team would stand up and partake in activities such as looking over 20 feet away, using resistance bands, and stretching. Now, I regularly hear laughter and open dialogue on ways we can improve the work performance of the entire group and see team members assisting each other to overcome small challenges.
Overall, the aerospace quality assurance team at GMN is actively and effectively working to increase productivity and morale within our team, and the results have been tangible. As we continue to improve these efforts, we can continue to serve our customers at the highest possible level of quality and service.
During the week of September 10th through the 14th, the GMN Aerospace team participated in another value stream team (VST) event with The Boeing Company, this time focusing on the front-end process flow. The goal of this event was to reduce overall processing time between the Aerospace document review process and the art department by 50%, a flow that is critical for keeping things running smoothly through the plant. Additionally, the group hoped to find solutions that would lead to higher on-time delivery and lower overtime, therefore increasing both external and internal customer satisfaction.
The VST team, led by Brian McCarthy from Boeing for the fifth time and made up of members from both the GMN Aerospace customer service and production teams, worked together to identify wastes and opportunities for improvement throughout the process. Using effective communication and open minds, the group found ways to reduce the current ten-day flow time down to just a quarter of day! But getting to that future state, a state that is proactive, digitally motivated, and based on collaboration and communication, will involve working a series of projects that were identified during the VST event. A number of those projects are already in process (or completed!) and are currently making a positive impact on the overall flow time, particularly between document review and the art department.
VST events are a fantastic way to not only improve existing processes, but also increase the knowledge and understanding of those processes. This VST event was no different. The team at GMN Aerospace is continually committed to making ongoing growth, learning, and communication an integral part of the culture here at GMN.