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By Brian Rowe | Jul 17, 2017
BECO Dairy Automation overlay set

BECO Dairy Automation Inc. is a manufacturer of modern dairy equipment. BECO came to GM Nameplate (GMN) looking for several overlays for their Immix G2 machine, a dairy milking control module. The overlays had specific aesthetic requirements and also needed to be able to handle the harsh environment of milking farms.

There were six overlays made with each set: three labels, two control switches, and one large label with display windows to read measurements on the Immix machine.

The overlays were required to withstand one million actuations, frequent contact with chemicals, and being sprayed by powerful hoses on a daily basis. BECO also wanted the overlays to have a metallic look that was complimented by a red gradient.

GMN initially used its new digital THIEME printer for this project. The THIEME printer can run multiple colors and print the entire overlay in one run instead of having to switch colors with each run-through, which eliminates setup costs associated with other conventional printing processes. This printing process is best for low to medium volume products with multiple colors and gradients, such as the red gradient BECO wanted on their overlay.

Traditional digital inks aren’t very durable, but with this machine, GMN has the capability of digitally printing UV curable inks which can be used for overlays that will face a lot of actuations. With a suitable ink selection based on the substrate material, we are also able to perform additional post-printing processes, such as embossing, to enhance the product appearance and add additional value over an older digital press.

However, the biggest challenge was achieving the desired metallic look that could survive countless actuations. Most metallic inks aren’t durable enough to withstand the hundreds of thousands of actuations that the BECO overlays would endure. Therefore, GMN decided to use a silver ink that was slightly more opaque, but had a guaranteed long actuation life.

Once the overlay was designed and ready to print, BECO ordered a higher quantity of overlays than initially anticipated. In order to meet the timeline, GMN moved the printing process to an offset lithography printer, which is a more cost effective process for larger volumes while still maintaining the level of quality.

With years of experience in printing and manufacturing, GMN knows which production technique is most appropriate for each project. Through GMN’s diverse array of capabilities and equipment, we are able to use the most economical option that will get the job done to meet budget and time constraints.

By Chris Doyle | May 26, 2017
GMN's new digital THIEME press

GM Nameplate’s (GMN) Seattle, WA Division has just received a new digital press made by THIEME. This digital press produces the opacity of screen printing inks, but the print quality of lithography printing. The THIEME press has a very quick turnaround time, making it perfect for GMN to print lower volume jobs, as well as prototypes and projects that don’t allow much lead time.

Digital printing is a process that prints a digital-based image directly onto a substrate. There is less set-up and no printing plates or screens to make, which is not like other traditional printing methods. The cost of printing per sheet is often higher than that of other printing options, but is likely offset by the reduced labor time and cost savings due to not having to produce printing plates or screens.

Digital printing is best for lower to medium volume jobs that require gradations, half tones or more than three colors. The THIEME press can also easily print embossed overlays as well as transparent colored windows.

An advantage of the THIEME press is its ability for customers to make quick changes to digital images on the fly. The press also makes serialization and personalization possible by printing fixed and variable data simultaneously.

Print heads on GMN’s new digital THIEME press

The print heads include cyan, magenta, yellow, black, light cyan, light magenta, light black and white. If white is not used, the print speed is 150 seconds (2 minutes, 30 seconds), however when white is used the print speed is 300 seconds (5 minutes).

Although color matching is improving with digital printing, a downside to printing digitally is its limited color spectrum. If an exact color match is needed for a print, digital printing is not the ideal printing process. However, GMN can create a color profile that matches Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors, or color chips for each material. After the color matching is completed, GMN can supply custom ink cartridges.

The THIEME press can print on up to 2 inch thick material and on no larger than an 18”x24” sheet. If a job requires a larger sheet size, customers may be able to take advantage of our San Jose, CA Division’s HP Indigo digital press, which can handle a sheet size of 12.5”x37”. Customers may also utilize the Inca Spyder press at GMN’s Monroe, NC Division, where we can print 48”x60” sheets on a print bed that can take up to 5’x10’ of print area. 

While there are multiple factors that contribute to the decision of which printing process to use, there are clear benefits and drawbacks of each method. GMN works with each customer to determine which printing method is best for the specific project, whether it is offset, flexography, screen, or digital printing. GMN offers a printing solution for every type of project.