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Picture of Chris Doyle
By Chris Doyle Feb 28, 2020
Display of ElectraGraphics 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 undoubtedly the answer.

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

  1. 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.
     
  2. 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. As shown in the video, the sheet is then sequentially dipped in four different plating tanks – Wood’s nickel 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. To see the ElectraGraphics production process in action, watch our video below.

By Frances Ganz Feb 20, 2020
FLIR's injection molded housing and electroform logo

FLIR, a global leader in thermal imaging camera systems, had developed a line of fixed-mount thermal marine cameras with a protective metal housing.  However, their existing housing was not only heavy but also expensive and time-consuming to manufacture. Looking to re-design the metallic housing, FLIR approached GM Nameplate (GMN) for an alternative solution.  

As the housing remains an integral part of the thermal camera system, it would be repeatedly exposed to challenging surroundings including ultraviolet rays, seawater, and high winds. Keeping the severe outdoor conditions in mind, GMN proposed to replace the metal housing with a robust, industrial-grade plastic that can endure prolonged marine use and environmental damage. Additionally, plastic is not only cost-effective but also seven times lighter than metal and faster to fabricate. The housing was fabricated via injection molding at GMN’s Beaverton, OR division.    

FLIR’s original design also comprised of a chrome-plated logo attached to the metal housing with hooks. The hooks were attached to the metal via heat staking, a process of melting metal to create a bond. However, the seal formed via heat staking was not airtight, causing unwanted water to seep through the crevices and gradually oxidizing the metal hooks and housing. To resolve this sealing issue, GMN switched the original chrome-plated logo with a 3D electroform logo. This unique metal decoration technique deposited nickel and chrome directly on the desired form to create a high-quality, corrosion-resistant, three-dimensional logo. The distinct logo was brought to life at GMN’s Monroe, NC division and adhered to the plastic housing with a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Offering extremely high durability and visual appeal, the finished product flawlessly married plastic with metal.  

GMN brought together two of its core capabilities and manufacturing locations (metal decoration at Monroe, NC and plastic injection molding at Beaverton, OR) to effectively meet the needs of the program. Following the successful completion of this project, FLIR returned to GMN to develop both a smaller and larger housing for a similar camera line. 

To learn more about plastic decorating capabilities and value-added assemblies, visit our website here.

Pam Hane
By Pam Hane Feb 13, 2020
Roger's noise and vibration dampening solutions

In our previous blog Noise and vibration dampening (Part - I), we learned the fundamentals of acoustic management solutions. In this blog, we’ll be exploring some of the widely employed noise-blocking solutions by GM Nameplate (GMN) -

  • Roger’s PORON® urethane foams - PORON® urethane foams are open-celled materials with high dimensional stability and excellent viscoelasticity that hold up well under continued vibration. With a high resistance to stress, relaxation, and compression, urethane foams do not collapse under pressure and always return to 99% of their original dimension. Ensuring consistency and reliabil­ity in crucial applications, urethane foams are seen in var­ious constructions ranging from extra soft, very soft, soft, firm, to very firm. These durable foams are flame retardant, chemical resistant, and can sustain a broad range of tem­peratures from -40°C to 90°C. Equipped with excellent gap filling, sealing, and gasketing properties, these foams offer good absorption for medium to high impact.
  • Roger’s BISCO® silicones - BISCO® silicones, made of cellular, solid, or specialty silicone materials, offer similar benefits and features as the PORON® urethane foam. The chief differentiating factor remains BIS­CO® silicone’s high flame resistance and the ability to withstand high temperatures. The cellular silicones, available in varying thicknesses, provide high resistance to compression and high tensile strength. Solid sili­cones, made of a solid rubber-like material, are available in a range of durometers from 10-40 Shore A. The specialty silicones, bringing together a combination of cellular and solid silicones, are seen in durometers from 40-70 Shore A.
  • 3M’s vibration damping and slick surface tapes - With a soft aluminum backing, the vibration damping tapes from 3M mitigate resonant noise, vibration, and fatigue. Used for attaching irregular and uneven surfaces, the tapes can hold up to 50 pounds per square inch of strength. They are pressure-sensitive tapes with high visco­elasticity that reduces stress and dissipate noise across the surface. Similar to vibration damping tapes, very high bond (VHB) tapes from 3M also offer dampening properties due to their high viscoelasticity. Slick surface tapes from 3M utilize Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW-PE) and Polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) formulations to mitigate friction between the two contact surfaces.

As a Preferred Converter of 3M and Roger’s Corporation, GMN can offer custom-engineered solutions to your specific design needs. To learn more about our die-cutting capabilities, download our free guide here.

Pam Hane
By Pam Hane Feb 10, 2020
Acoustic management solutions

Buzz, squeak, and rattle (BSR), a term frequently used by automotive engineers, refers to the incessant noise or unwanted squeaky sound that you hear in your car at times. While BSR remains one of the most common, yet challenging problems of the automotive industry, it is also of paramount importance in other industries including electronics, aerospace, and appliances. BSR can be caused by any moving components or the improper bonding and attachment of two parts. Whether it’s a cooling fan, medical pump, or washing machine, moving components within a device often causes friction, damaging the parts over their lifetime. In addition, devices, especially hand-held and portable ones, are prone to severe impact by a sudden hit or drop on the floor. Minimizing noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) is critical to the optimal performance and longevity of any device.

In the past, the issue of NVH was addressed by inserting a piece of neoprene or rubber between two com­ponents, held together by a screw, nut, or bolt. While this solution helps to reduce vibration, the mechanical fasteners create a rigid bond that is susceptible to cracking or breaking on impact. In recent times, engineers often try to attack the problem of vibration at the source, which is commonly known as vibration isolation. However, in cases where isolation is not possible, the issue is resolved by introducing noise and vibration dampeners. The dampeners essentially absorb the noise and dissipate it over the surface, thus mitigating fatigue, stress, and vibration.

Finding the right noise-blocking solutions can not only improve device quality, but also enhance the end-user experience. Fortunately, companies such as 3M and Rogers Corporation have opened doors to multiple acoustic management solutions in the form of acoustic foams, tapes, and adhesives. In addition to replac­ing mechanical fasteners, these solutions exhibit high resiliency and shock absorption characteristics. This cost-effective approach to acoustic damping offers the following advantages:

  • Minimize noise, vibration, and harshness
  • Reduce buzz, squeak, and rattle
  • Exhibit high viscoelasticity, resiliency, and dimensional stability
  • Allow for quick and easy application
  • Improve the durability and performance of the device

While each application requires a customized solution, there are certain product families from 3M and Rog­ers Corporation that are predominantly utilized by GM Nameplate to resolve noise and vibration de­sign challenges. To learn more about these solutions, stay tuned for our next blog.  

Marc Doan
By Marc Doan Jan 24, 2020
A photo of a Metalphoto nameplate

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. 

By Steve Baker Jan 15, 2020
Image of Anaheim Convention Center

GM Nameplate (GMN) is thrilled to be exhibiting at Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) West once again! The show will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California from February 11th through February 13th. As the largest MedTech show in North America, MD&M West draws professionals from all across the nation and is an unrivaled opportunity for both networking and sharing new ideas and innovations.

GMN’s experts will be at the show to discuss our latest projects and developments in the medical field. Featuring our recent user-interface solutions along with several other medical sub-assemblies, you can expect to see everything from plastic injection molding and switch technologies to printed electrodes and display integration. Visit us in booth #1721 to learn how GMN’s state-of-the-art technologies and vertically-integrated capabilities can make your next product truly stand out.

We’d be happy to discuss your manufacturing needs and challenges. Come speak with our team of experts on site or schedule a personal consultation with a GMN representative by reaching out to us at info@gmnameplate.com.

Picture of Chris Doyle
By Chris Doyle Dec 23, 2019
GMN's 2020 calendar

Continuing the annual tradition of making a calendar for the new year, GMN’s 2020 calendar is unique in several ways. To get inspiration for the new calendar, the team at GMN’s Monroe, NC division first looked at metal decoration trend samples that they had prepared for customers. Combining the GMN logo and colors along with elements from these trending designs, we were able to create a truly modern and exciting calendar for 2020 that demonstrates some of GMN’s unique capabilities.

In order to have the logo pop and add motion to the calendar, the GMN logo was given a selective spin finish that radiates out from the center of the letters. To achieve this effect, the sheet of bright-finish aluminum was screen-printed with a resist layer, allowing the spin finish to be contained solely within the GMN logo. Both the logo and the 2020 were left without any printing, allowing the bright-finish aluminum to truly stand out.

After the spin finish, the calendar was screen printed with a bright white ink and yellow accent colors for the calendar months, as well as a glossy black ink for a visually contrasting background. To add dimension, “GM Nameplate” was then printed in a repeating pattern in matte ink on top of the black background, giving the calendar a subtle two-tone design. The way black ink traps and slightly overlaps the white ink provides a strong visual depth and gives the calendar an embossed look.

A collaborative effort between multiple divisions, the plastic stands that sit on the back were manufactured at GMN China and were applied to each calendar at GMN’s Monroe, NC plant.

GMN is proud to present the 2020 calendar and is excited for the year to come!

Happy holidays!

Duke-Brekhus
By Duke Brekhus Dec 18, 2019
Stryker Lifepad keypad

When Stryker created their Lifepak defibrillator, they knew how important it was for it to remain functional no matter the environment in which it was used. The device is used in hospitals, ambulances and everywhere in between where it might be subjected to tough conditions and repeated impact. With the original design consisting of an overlay directly over metal snap domes, little protection was offered to the domes themselves. Concerns were raised when they found that enough high-force impact could potentially invert these domes and possibly cause malfunctions.

While this didn’t cause any actual device failures, it was important to figure out a way to ensure that the potential issue wouldn’t ever lead to a malfunction in any of the defibrillators. Being used in such a critical industry, it was imperative that every button stayed functional for the life of the device. GMN’s experts revisited the original keypad design and began to devise ways to improve its durability.

Due to the way the keypad was designed to sit in the defibrillator, it had to retain the same dimensions and usability while still solving the potential dome inversion issue. The challenge became how to significantly improve high-impact resistance without altering any of the tactile feel, size or appearance of the keypad. Three different rounds of prototyping took place, each experimenting with different materials in various sizes and orientations below the keypad. The first round of prototypes worked on revisions to the original design, whereas the latter prototypes experimented with adding a layer of elastomer to aid with the energy dispersion from repeated impact.

GMN and Stryker eventually settled on a design where an elastomer layer and plastic frame rests between the printed circuit board assembly and the overlay. GMN had never combined elastomer with a plastic frame in this manner, but the new construction perfectly met the goal of improved impact resistance without affecting the feel of any of the buttons.

The new keypad construction was tested extensively to verify its functionality even in the toughest of circumstances. A one-pound weight was dropped multiple times from over 16” above the device on each of the buttons. While the old design might have struggled with the impact and failed, the new version held strong and worked consistently, even after dozens of repeated collisions.

The new design was not only incorporated in the current Lifepak defibrillator, but also found its way to other devices in the Stryker family. This unique keypad construction added a new design option to GMN’s toolbox for projects to come. This is yet another example of GMN’s ingenuity truly helping to optimize a product’s performance. To find out more about our design options or to discuss your manufacturing needs, set up a consultation with our experts.

Dave Klinkman
By Dave Klinkman Dec 04, 2019
Molded components in an aircraft

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.  

Chris Beason
By Chris Beason Nov 12, 2019
An image of the San Jose Convention Center

GM Nameplate (GMN) is excited to exhibit at the BIOMEDevice San Jose show in booth #1127. The event will take place at the San Jose Convention Center on December 4-5th, 2019.

GMN will be demonstrating its vertically-integrated capabilities ranging from capacitive switch technology to die-cut components, plastic injection molding to front panel integration. There will be a wide variety of samples on hand illustrating the many ways you can use these capabilities to enhance your products and truly make them stand out.

We’ll have technical experts on site to discuss custom manufacturing solutions from first prototyping through volume production. We’re happy to discuss your upcoming projects or manufacturing needs and challenges. To schedule a meeting with GMN technical expert, reach out to us directly at info@gmnameplate.com.