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Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Jan 28, 2016
GMN Automotive metal insert molding

When a part needs to hold up against heavy wear and tear, a basic nameplate may not meet demanding project requirements. In these cases one of the technologies that GMN utilizes is metal insert-molding, a process in which both metal and plastic are used together. This capability is especially popular in the automotive industry because it creates pieces that are robust enough to withstand both external and internal environments.

Metal insert molding can replace traditional methods for combining metal and plastic together, including adhesive bonding or crimping. While both of these methods offer adequate bonding for flat surfaces, the advantages of metal insert molding far outweigh those of adhesive bonding and the crimping method.

The metal insert-molding process is an alternative method that overcomes the many difficulties found when combining metal and plastic. The first step of metal insert-molding is decorating the metal with mechanical and chemical finishes for cosmetic requirements. Next, heat activated adhesive is applied to the back of the metal. The part is then trimmed and the metal is formed into the desired shape. The metal piece is inserted into the mold before the plastic is then injected. Finally, the part is cooled and trimmed again if needed.

Metal is chosen for many reasons. First, mechanical finishes can be applied that give the appearance of movement on the part from reflecting light. These finishes include spin, brush, strip and coin graphic patterns. Metal is also used because it’s a strong material that holds its shape and many projects require the feel and weight of authentic metal. While metal provides both cosmetic and functional purposes, plastic is used predominately as a lightweight material that can support the piece as a structural component used to attach the part to its final application.

The advantages of metal insert-molding are broad. This technology allows for a line to line fit between the metal and plastic to create an absolute bond and complete support on the back of the part. The strength of the metal allows for a thicker section of plastic tabs or clips on the back of the part without the risk of heat sink through the top surface of the metal. The combined metal and plastic components can also be machined for a cleaner fit without compromising on the look of the part. The plastic material also traps and covers the raw edge that is created when the parts are cut out.

Metal insert molding is a popular technology that offers both functional and cosmetic benefits for decorated trim components.

Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Sep 22, 2015
Sill plates or liftgate trims from GMN Automotive

We recently shared information about our Monroe Division’s roll coating line and the benefits it offers in the automotive industry. Thanks to our roll coating line and metal fabrication capabilities, we are excited to share that GMN Automotive now offers a new ornamentation capability – liftgate trim.

Recently GMN Automotive produced two liftgate trims for new Lincoln vehicles. The parts required aggressive performance standards which could be achieved thanks to GMN Automotive’s industry leading custom-formulated coating technologies and fabrication capabilities. The liftgate trims cover the leading edge into the back of the vehicle. The stainless steel design will not dent, making it the perfect fit for the vehicle application.

To start, the GMN Automotive team utilized the roll coating line to pre-decorate stainless steel sheets. Once roll coated the sheets were fabricated to meet the liftgate design, including embossed characters and a deep part profile.

GMN Automotive’s in-house chemist and tool designer worked together to overcome all design and functional challenges. Our chemist had to develop a coating hard enough to meet the aggressive scratch and mar performance test requirements and flexible enough to allow the deep profile without cracking the coating. The tool designer had to develop the tool progression so that the severity of each forming operation did not exceed the coatings flexibility.

Thanks to our capabilities and in-house design support, GMN Automotive was the obvious choice for the new liftgate trims!

Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Aug 13, 2015
Roll coating line for automotive finishes at GMN Automotive

At our Monroe, North Carolina Division, GMN Automotive is equipped with various metal decorating, finishing, and coating capabilities. One of the most important metal capabilities we offer is our roll coat line which is widely used for customers in the appliance, automotive, and cosmetic industries. The roll coating line is used for both aesthetic and functional purposes.

Almost every aluminum part we produce for automotive customers is roll coated prior to decoration and fabrication. GMN Automotive’s roll coat line can achieve the following:

  • Customized performance-driven coatings developed for each application  (includes base and top coats)
  • Custom aesthetics, colors, tints, and gloss levels
  • Smudge-proof, anti-fingerprints, abrasion resistant, and high heat tolerant topcoats
  • Anti-microbial coatings
  • More durability and higher performance than coil coated constructions

Roll coatings are utilized to address both visual and functional construction demands. Coatings are available with transparent or opaque colors, full gloss or matte finishes, and with different tactile values. Utilizing coatings allows your construction to maintain its design intent when subject to extreme environmental conditions – whether it’s an automotive exterior, appliance range, or frequently-handled personal care product. Applying a base coat with the roll coat line promotes ink adhesion and enhances durability, offering protection for abrasion and corrosion.  In the past we’ve used our roll coat lines to add a transparent yellow coating onto aluminum to create a gold jewelry-looking part.

GMN Automotive has developed custom coatings for stainless steel as well. While the purpose of the coatings are primarily aesthetic, they also improve scratch resistance. In the automotive industry, it is an integral step for components undergoing physical wear and tear through repeated use.

Thanks to our roll coating capabilities, GMN Automotive can offer metal components that stand up to regular wear and tear and won’t corrode from repeated exposure to outdoor elements. Our next GMN Automotive blog will feature two parts that utilized our roll coating line. Stay tuned!

Elise Harrington, GMN
By Elise Harrington | Apr 10, 2015
Fiat exterior wheel badge

A great example of the depth of GM Nameplate’s badging and decorative trim capabilities is this nameplate we produced for Fiat, which can be found on exterior wheels. The badge also highlights GMN Automotive’s process knowledge of differing but complementary technologies.

The unique decorative badge married two different process capabilities to create a one-of-a-kind aesthetic. The design is achieved by using a chrome plated injection molded plastic and metal decorative trim. The process creates the visual design intent and functional requirements while providing the most cost effective price point. The technique also creates a high relief and stand out logo.

Creating the one-of-a-kind design by utilizing the two technologies still presented its own manufacturing challenge. The desired outcome would have the Fiat logo stand out, while the multi-colored red background would feature very fine lines and a high gloss finish.

To achieve this desired look, the GMN Automotive team developed a unique solution. By piercing through the decorated red of the badge, the chrome plated injection molded part with the Fiat copy extended out. The other piece of the metal badge utilizes screen printing for the main decoration and then a top coating of GMN Automotive’s proprietary thin lensclad. Finally the two pieces were adhered together. The final outcome is a standout badge that covers all of the customer’s desired design enhancements!

To learn more about our custom badging and decorative trim capabilities, please visit our website

Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Mar 5, 2015
Embossed metal automotive nameplate

For more than 60 years GM Nameplate has been producing one-of-a-kind nameplates. We’ve been fortunate to work with some of the most recognized brands in the world. GMN Automotive’s work within the automotive industry is no exception! A great example of our unique nameplate capabilities is this nameplate we manufactured for Jaguar.

The nameplate GMN Automotive created for Jaguar is used for airbag ornamentation. One of the most unique aspects of this nameplate is its detailed design and manufacturing. The aluminum nameplate is tinted gold and features intricate embossing. The embossed design creates a 3-dimensional look that stands out and highlights the high-end automotive brand.

GMN Automotive’s unique badging capabilities have produced many stand-out nameplates. What makes our badging different from our competition? Our industry leading and unique in-house capabilities including color lab chemists and complete tooling department. Thanks to our in-house experts we can push the industry accepted process parameters while maintaining process control to create custom badging unlike any other nameplate manufacturer.

If you’re interested in learning more about our custom badging and decorative trim capabilities, please visit our website

Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Feb 11, 2015
Close up of black car

Last month during the Detroit Auto Show, NPR discussed the evolution of our cars over the past ten years – including everything from designs and aesthetics, to technology and functional changes. The crux of this discussion concerned the average car’s life on the road today being 10 years old. During the recession car sales understandably decreased, but sales are increasing as the economic climate has improved. 

As far as changes in the past ten years, the same holds true for GMN Automotive’ s capabilities and trends within our product lines. New vehicles today look different from their previous models in numerous ways. The complexities of designs and quality requirements have both increased significantly, while also being subject to greater price sensitivity. To meet this challenge GMN Automotive has focused on improving our existing and expanding capabilities.

Within our exterior capabilities, GMN has developed higher performing base coats and top coats for our badging products.  Regarding exterior badges, by using thin lensclad and urethane topcoats we’ve improved the performance and durability of our construction. In addition, we’ve developed solutions to address galvanic corrosion for exterior parts. For all of our parts there is an increased focus on durability and quality (we will discuss this in an upcoming blog!).

Improvements can also be seen within our interior offerings. Recently we’ve expanded our backlit capabilities with new material offerings including stainless steel, added metal insert molding, metal over-molding, and additional nameplate capabilities, such as 2D and 3D electroform. Our improvements to these capabilities allow for better durability and appearance. GMN Automotive has made equipment investments that allow us to offer parts for larger applications, selective finishes, and durable metal coatings.

One of the major changes we are seeing across the automotive industry is the penetration of touchscreens in center stack displays – controlling everything from the radio and temperature, to GPS and other entertainment features. For a number of years, GMN has offered front panel integration and bonding to its customers. Our liquid optically clear adhesive construction offers performance benefits to the automotive industry, including better durability and visual clarity. 

The biggest change seen across GMN and the automotive industry in general is the demand for better quality products. Our current goal for all customer shipments is to reflect a 0 PPM rating.  Our quality manual and quality system certifications provide the tools for GMN to achieve this goal through continuous improvement methods – allowing our shipments to meet your expectations the first and every time!  

There have been many changes to quality standards, technology, and aesthetics in the automotive industry over the past 10 years. As the industry continues to evolve, it will be exciting to witness the changes to come in the next 10 years!

Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Jan 29, 2015
GMN Automotive

The annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) took place in Detriot earlier this month. Every year members of the GMN Automotive show attend the expo to learn about emerging industry trends and new technologies. In addition, the show also showcases many impressive concept cars and new vehicles coming to the market.

While walking the show every year we identify a number of automotive trends. Relating to GMN Automotive, one trend that we continue to see the past few years is the growing use of metal in automotive interiors. From metal gas and brake pedals, to speaker grills, lift gate trim, and other accent pieces, the demand for a metal look is growing.

We’ve seen similar trends at GMN Automotive as the requests for aluminum and stainless steel sill plates, and metal badging continues to grow. We currently provide metal sill plates for a number of automotive companies. Thanks to our metal coating capabilities, we can provide custom finishes and protective coatings to enhance the durability and shine of sill plates.

In addition, we continue to grow our metal nameplate offerings. From traditional metal nameplates, to lensclad, electroform, and ElectraGraphic nameplates, we can offer a custom solution for nearly every design.               

We enjoyed visiting the Auto Show this year and are already looking forward to the show next year. It will be exciting to see which of this year’s trends will remain, and other advancements and changes!

By admin | Jul 15, 2014
Book pile

The GMN Automotive website went live last month and I have heard great feedback about the case studies.  I wanted to share the links here.

Key Fob Jewel Case Study

Learn how GMN’s approach to a new program increased efficiency, decreased costs and helped provide stability in the supply chain. 

Lensclad Nameplate Case Study

Discover how Lensclad was developed to improve the durability of a nameplate and to protect a logo or image from damage. 

Plastic Nameplate Case Study

Read how custom textures and colors were created to make a plastic nameplate appear metallic. 

Optical Bonding Case Study

Learn how optical bonding, a strategy for front panel integration, has increased the durability and readability of displays.

Cynthia Schulte, GMN
By Cynthia Schulte | Oct 23, 2013
GMN Automotive

Today GM Nameplate announced the launch of a new brand: GMN Automotive.  The new brand is intended to underscore the company’s commitment to the automotive industry and communicate the diverse products that are available from GM Nameplate.       

GM Nameplate has served the automotive industry for 50 years as a supplier of decorative components.  Over the last decade, the company has expanded its offerings to include front panel integration, user interfaces, value-added assemblies and more.

“The branding of GM Nameplate’s automotive group highlights the significant position we currently hold within the automotive industry while offering customers a glimpse of the full range of processes and capabilities that we employ,” said Rich Smylie, who oversees the automotive group.

“We know automotive,” said Gerry Gallagher, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for GM Nameplate.  “However, because of all the industries we serve, that message is often lost.  GMN Automotive is a vehicle for us to share the specific capabilities we offer the automotive industry.” 

GM Nameplate is often incorrectly associated with General Motors.  The GMN Automotive brand also allows the company to differentiate from the automotive giant. 

To learn more about GMN Automotive, visit the new GMN Automotive website at

Elise Harrington, GMN
By Elise Harrington | Nov 29, 2012
Printing automotive instrumentation

Industrial + Specialty Printing’s November/December issue features an article by GM Nameplate’s Technical Printing Manager, Mike McDaniel. “Printing Automotive Instrumentation” highlights the steps and challenges to correctly manufacturing an automotive instrument panel.

Drawing from many years of color matching and printing experience McDaniel examines printing automotive gauges step-by-step. The article covers the importance of utilizing various measurement tools and instrumentation. As pointed out by McDaniel, when developing an automotive instrument panel job, color matching is the longest and most challenging step. He then goes on to explain the different printing methods, and proper procedures, whether back or front-printing the panel.

GM Nameplate’s color expert Mike McDaniel has successfully lead many automotive instrument panel projects. Although it is rarely a short and simple process, McDaniel says that with rigid procedures, high attention to detail and accurate color matching, you can achieve a high quality and durable panel.