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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 Gerry Gallagher | Dec 5, 2017
GMN is an early adopter of robotic innovation in our industry

Custom manufacturing companies like GM Nameplate (GMN) face the challenge of producing high-quality parts, with short lead times at the tightest tolerances. There are many steps involved from receiving an order to delivering the required parts to the customer in a timely manner. A number of the tasks in the production phase are tedious, and by improving the efficiency of output with these tasks, we can ensure customers receive cost-effective and quick-turn solutions for their projects.

To increase the value we deliver to our customers, we work every day to deliver our services quickly and cost-effectively, while maintaining the same standard of high quality, tested parts. GMN continuously drives to eliminate unexpected results and cultivate seamless production. We have always had a high-caliber skilled labor force, however using this labor as effectively as possible is an ongoing goal we strive for. One way we have achieved this objective is through the use of robotics. Robots are becoming great partners in the manufacturing process by working side-by-side with our employees.

Most recently, GMN has started to employ multi-jointed robots that are registered using coordinates to operate with distinct movements that are precise and repeatable. These are most typically used for a compilation of several small tasks for a specific function. Once a robot is set up with its coordinates and materials, it can reiterate the task for a set number of times, with speed and accuracy. Thus allowing our employees to spend their time programming the robots and focusing on setting up more jobs. GMN has been using robots with loading and unloading laser cutters, clam shell die-cutting presses and other repetitive processes. This allows for a more interesting and rewarding role for the employee as well as more value to our customer.

Safety is our top priority for our employees at GMN, and these robots were made with employee’s safety in mind. They have “smart-technology” to sense if they bump into someone or something, so they do not need to be in a cage. For example, if a robot’s arm swings into an employee, the robot will stop at the point of contact. Robots without this technology will swing with force into objects (or people).

Robotic automation is being implemented more and more among manufacturing companies, and GMN is an early adopter of this innovation in our industry. This allows employees of GMN to focus on skilled tasks that robots can’t perform, so labor is better applied during production. Robotic automation is one of the many ways GMN brings value to customers, by improving efficiencies, reducing costs, and seeking continuous improvement.

To see our robots in action, watch the short video below. 

By Brian Rowe | Oct 12, 2016
Membrane switch panel for  Given Imaging's medical device.

Given Imaging, a medical technology company, came to GM Nameplate (GMN) to assemble a membrane switch panel for their medical device. When configuring a membrane switch, many factors about each component layer must be taken into consideration. 

As the user interface for a medical device, the screen printed and embossed overlay needed to satisfy stringent requirements. The overlay must act as a sealant to prevent moisture and fluids from reaching the membrane. Additionally, the overlay must be chemical and scratch resistant to combat the strain of daily use. 

Common overlay materials include polyester and polycarbonate. Both materials are affordable options that will protect the circuit membrane from scratches, chemicals, and liquids. Due to the durability of screen printed inks, backprinting is a frequent practice to mitigate product wear and tear from everyday use.    

This Given Imaging overlay contains three colors - teal, white, and a black opaque layer. The opaquing layer was selectively applied around the LEDs which allowed light to shine through and prevented light bleed through unwanted areas of the overlay. Because of the opaquing layer, light only showed through the indicator icon on a button instead of throughout the whole part.

When looking at membrane circuit materials, printed silver ink in lower volumes provides a cheaper option than copper etched circuits, such as Kapton, while still offering comparable performance capabilities. Finding the right membrane circuit for the product application is necessary to manufacture a quality membrane switch.

For more information about GMN’s membrane switch assemblies, visit our capabilities page.