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Lauren Rowles, GMN
By Lauren Rowles | Dec 20, 2018
GMN's holiday calendar 2019

As part of our yearly tradition, GMN has produced another custom calendar for the upcoming year. Apart from the functional value offered in helping to track the months and days of the year, these calendars also serve as a fun way to show off some of GMN’s decorative capabilities. In collaboration with our Seattle, WA Division, this year’s calendars were created at GMN’s Monroe, NC Division.

This year, we decided to make some exciting modifications to our calendar design, while still maintaining some of the same design elements as in previous years.

On the top strip of the calendar, there is an overlap spin pattern. This finish has been included on some calendars in years past, however, this year we enhanced the spin finish by taking the spin and dragging it along the metal surface, creating a dynamic look that reflects light in an interesting way. While this capability may seem common, the challenge that was posed by this application was achieving the drag spin at an angle and selectively. In order to contain the drag spin finish to only the top area, the process required laying down a resist layer over the desired area before the drag spin was applied. This resist layer protects the bright and other areas of the metal on which we didn’t want the spin to be applied. However, the resist ink can be difficult to work with at times, as it needs to be strong enough to withstand the drag spin, but gentle enough so that it can be removed after the spin is applied.

In addition, to complement and enrich the movement of the drag spin finish, a carbon fiber design was printed on the background of the calendar. Achieving the right balance of color was critical for printing this pattern because the color needed to have enough contrast to be visible but also be light enough to allow for the aluminum material to show through. Lithographic printing was used to print the months of the year onto the metal and create the halftone gradient pattern that is featured. Lastly, the GMN and logo and the year were embossed to add extra dimension and value to the calendar overall.

The entire GMN team is proud of the final product and is excited for it to take us into the new year!

Rich Smylie, GMN
By Richard Smylie | Oct 31, 2018
Embossed nameplate manufactured at GMN

Embossing, the process of raising logos or graphic images, is a great way to augment the visual impact of any component. The tactile feel realized as a result of the raised design reinforces the aesthetic appeal of a product. Embossing is one of the most versatile metal decoration techniques employed by a wide array of industries.

While there are different ways to emboss a component, how do you ensure the utmost precision while embossing decorated parts? How can the varying tolerances of the decoration process accurately align to a mechanical embossing operation? The answer to all these questions lies in our newest video. By offering a glimpse into the functioning of a Spartanics press, this video will clearly demonstrate the advantages of adding an optical registration system to the embossing process.

To illustrate the registration challenge imposed by any decoration process on embossing, let’s delve further deeper into the HySecurity nameplate seen the video. During the screen printing process, when a squeegee travels across the metal sheet, the deposition tolerance between the images can vary as much as 0.005” per inch. As such, an image from the leading to the trailing edge of a 24” sheet can vary around 0.12” (0.005” x 24”).  Conversely, the mechanical action of the embossing die does not exhibit this variation. So, when an operator feeds the metal sheet to the embossing machine, the tool cannot align accurately with the varying deposited images, sometimes creating an off-registered embossed part.

However, this alignment challenge can be overcome by adding an optical registration system to the embossing process and depositing a corresponding registration mark next to each design. In doing so, when the nameplate is being screen-printed, a registration mark is put down at the same time that correlates to the center of each artwork. At the embossing stage, a Spartanics press uses an optical eye to locate the mark and make necessary adjustments to gain alignment between the printed graphic and the tool pitch, resulting in perfect embossing. Since the press automatically calibrates the location of every individual artwork and advances the sheet through the press, the process is ideal for parts that demand extremely tight registration. Resulting in extreme precision and accuracy, optical registration embossing provides a high degree of efficiency and consistency. The Spartanics press overcomes tolerance variation that the actuator-fed emboss press falls short of.

A Spartanics press can emboss a range of metals and alloys including stainless steel and aluminum. While the thickness of the material processed is directly related to the press tonnage of the machine, the embossing height depends on various factors such as the thickness, temper, and alloy of the metal. Since certain alloys have greater elongation characteristics, they can be embossed to a greater height as compared to the others. The Spartanics press can emboss, deboss (recessed images), or perform both the processes simultaneously. It is well suited to emboss parts that are either screen, pad, or litho printed.

Depending on the design intent, embossed parts can undergo secondary processes like forming, blanking, and die-cutting at a later stage. To see how the Vforce nameplate, featured in the video, went through diamond carving after it was embossed, watch our previous video here. Over the last few decades, GMN has worked with several leading companies including Ford, Dell, Estée Lauder, and DW drums to create clean and crisp embossed parts. To watch the Spartanics press in action, click on the video below.

By Chris Doyle | Dec 20, 2017
Metal Decoration Guide

The use of metal components helps to add a sleek, stunning, and high-end aesthetic to any product. Metal nameplates, labels, and components have an influence on how your product is perceived and serve as a representation of your brand, which is why the design process for these components so crucial. Recently, GM Nameplate (GMN) hosted a webinar on decoration techniques that can be used to create a metal component that will stand out from the crowd. Following the webinar, we decided to compile the topics that were presented into a quick reference guide that you can use to aid you when designing your next metal component. This step-by-step resource will walk you through various eye-catching metal decoration techniques, from embossing and printing options to the latest industry trends, as well as provide you with essential tips and considerations to keep in mind throughout each stage of the development process.

To download this free reference guide, click here.

Dean Karousos, GMN
By Dean Karousos | Oct 24, 2017
GMN created a metal nameplate for WFLIII Drums using diamond carving and embossing.

WFLIII Drums came to GM Nameplate (GMN) to develop an original nameplate intended to be the company keystone for their high-quality signature snare drum. Recently, WFLIII asked GMN to provide design modification considerations to help them redesign this nameplate.

The original design of the WFLIII nameplate utilized an ElectraGraphic process on stainless steel. With ElectraGraphic nameplates, even though the nameplate is flat, the letters and designs appear to be raised. But this time around, WFLIII wanted to create a truly embossed (raised) badge with a diamond carved finish.

WFLIII Drums decided to go with a black aluminum nameplate that would be embossed and diamond carved on the upper half of the badge. Diamond carving is when lines are brushed deeply into embossed metal to give it a textured look. The diamond carving for this nameplate was applied diagonally and had more than the typical spread in between each engraving.

The nameplate had a lot of detail on its lower half, which presented a challenge because fine details are hard to achieve through embossing and diamond carving. So GMN had to find a solution to make sure the fine details of the badge would stand out as well.

Therefore, GMN decided to “reverse out” the details on the lower half of the badge. This meant that the designs would be made by printing the black ink around the letters and drum image, making the details stand out with a metallic shine against the dark background.

WFLIII Drums worked closely with GMN’s sales representatives and the Monroe, NC Division to create this new and improved badge. GMN was able to provide a solution for WFLIII Drums to create a nameplate that met their specific needs. 

Teresa Synakowski, GMN
By Teresa Synakowski | Sep 7, 2017
HTC Star Palette

Metal has a richness and elegance that is hard to match. Real metal has a different feel than plastic and has a high-end look to it. You can capitalize on the elegance of your metal component by adding decorative features as well. Although metal decoration can be a tricky process, GM Nameplate (GMN) has the experience and the skill set for the job.

HCT Europe, a luxury beauty product manufacturer, was working on a project for their client Alcor & Co. They began working with GMN to manufacture the aluminum outer shell of a new beauty color palette named the “Star Palette.” The designer of the palette, John Galliano, wanted it to have the appearance of an antique cigarette case from the 1920’s. On each side of the case, Giliano placed the images of two different “paper dolls” that would be embossed. The background of the palette was to be matte black, while a high-gloss black would be applied to the areas of the embossed artwork. GMN worked with the customers to provide design considerations for manufacturability of the metal shell that aligned with the intended design. In addition, this product was on a tight schedule and needed a quick turnaround for launch, which proved difficult for such an intricate part.

GMN’s Monroe, NC Division was tasked to print, emboss, and form the decorated aluminum shell. To produce this part, first the artwork was printed onto a flat sheet of hi-brite aluminum. The areas that were to be embossed were printed with a transparent high-gloss black ink, which allowed for the brilliance of the aluminum to show through, while the background was printed with a matte black ink for contrast. Using progressive Class A tooling, the aluminum shell was embossed in great detail to bring out the design of the two paper dolls, which can be challenging. GMN was able to achieve the intricate embossing on the part through extremely tight art and print registration. The press closely registered to the lines of the design in order to precisely emboss the desired area, leaving the matte finish flat and the doll designs raised. Finally, the metal sheets were formed to the shape of the palette, creating a clean and rounded edge around the entire shell. The customer wanted the artwork to come all the way down to the edge of the part, which is difficult when stretching the metal during the forming process. But after a few rounds of testing, a process was established that allowed for the part to be consistently formed without distorting the embossing or inks.

After this initial project was completed, GMN provided the customer with several prototypes we created of the same part design but with a variety of color and texture combinations. These samples provided physical representations that exemplified how you can completely transform the look of a current design just by applying different ink processes and decorative finishes.

To learn more about embossing options, check out our blog: Tooling for embossed nameplates.

Prototype samples of the HTC palette's original design using different decorative finishes.

Anna Minzel, GMN
By Anna Minzel | Jul 26, 2017
Magni-lens doming can increase the life of a nameplate tenfold

GM Nameplate (GMN) worked with Elkhart Plastics to create a nameplate for one of their products: Kong Coolers. After several months of back-and-forth communication, GMN and Elkhart Plastics went from a rough design of the logo to the finished part that is now being manufactured and placed on all Kong Coolers.

Elkhart Plastics had a list of things they wanted for their part, but some ideas were too intricate to manufacture and wouldn’t fit their budget. However, GMN’s knowledgeable team knew how to achieve the desired look the client wanted. GMN’s wide set of capabilities allowed for all of the different processes required to make this nameplate to be done under one roof: embossing the base layer, screen printing the various logo colors, and affixing the urethane dome (Magni-lens).

Kong Coolers are positioned as one of the most durable coolers in the market and are built for harsh environments. That being said, the nameplate required for this cooler also needed to be durable. The initial design had an aluminum base to achieve a metallic look. However, there was concern for the first design of the nameplate: the adhesive on the embossed regions of the nameplates wasn’t touching the cooler, which left a little amount of surface area to adhere to the cooler.

GMN solved this issue by using silver Mylar instead of aluminum. Silver Mylar is a much more flexible material, so the embossed regions were able to make contact with the cooler. Silver Mylar still gave the logo a metallic look, but was a less expensive option that already came with an aggressive adhesive on the back.

To increase the logo’s durability, GMN applied a Magni-lens layer to the nameplate. Magni-lens is a clear urethane dome that is capable of tremendous impact resistance, while still maintaining a modern look. With the stronger adhesive and the domed urethane cover, this nameplate can survive anything Kong Coolers can survive.

GMN helps customers with design considerations for manufacturability to create superior products. With years of experience, our team knows the best processes to accomplish desired aesthetics while producing the part as economical as possible. In addition, we are able to get samples out quickly for testing to ensure they have the highest degree of quality before going into full production.

For another example of a Magni-lens cooler nameplate, check out this previous blog.

By Betty Raper | May 23, 2017
Metal nameplates with antique effect.

Brands often use a weathered look for their branding components to differentiate their product or to invoke a sense of emotional attachment to the product within users. Applying a weathered or antique aesthetic typically signifies the history or importance and value associated with the product. Weathering is regularly used in industries such as outdoor recreation in order to appeal to certain target customers and give products a well-loved, natural appearance.

To provide a nameplate with this antique effect, first, a dot pattern is developed and applied to the background artwork of the part. Then, the dot pattern is printed onto the metal as a halftone, meaning the pattern varies from light to dark. The halftones produce a gradient effect, which causes the nameplate to appear to have been exposed to the elements and weathered naturally.

In addition, embossing and applying a darker halftone pattern to the area around the nameplate’s letters can help to further accentuate a weathered look.

GMN manufactures custom nameplates in a variety of materials, textures, and designs. A list of GMN’s metal nameplate options and materials can be found on our nameplate capabilities page.

Anna Minzel, GMN
By Anna Minzel | Dec 14, 2016
GMN created an embossed metal label for Starbucks' holiday gift card.

Starbucks asked GM Nameplate (GMN) to manufacture a complex label for their holiday gift card. Starbucks’ wanted an embossed metal label that wrapped around the center of the card. Rounds of testing we required to achieve all of the visual requirements for the label without interfering with the end transaction. Starbucks’ intricate logo required tight tolerances to create an accurately embossed label within the limited space. Through custom metallic inks and tight embossing, Starbucks received a high quality label that met all their requirements.

Learn more about how GMN supported Starbucks by reading our case study.   

Dan Swanson, GMN
By Dan Swanson | Sep 26, 2016
Thin aluminum drum badges for Monarch and RBH.

When determining the look and design for a custom nameplate or drum badge, a manufacturer must support the design as well as the manufacturing process.

These GMN manufactured Monarch and RBH drum badges are fabricated from thin aluminum and embossed to emphasize the edges and lettering to bring added dimension and pop to the nameplate. However, the challenge with embossing these printed aluminum drum badges was the ink’s tendency to crack.

GMN carefully reviewed this project and selected an appropriate ink system to avoid damaging the ink. Two ink systems are commonly used, UV and solvent-based. With solvent-based ink, the alcohol or solvent is baked out during the curing process, leaving a hard resin. For UV-based ink systems, the printing is subjected to ultraviolet light, catalyzing the ink and creating a robust and durable seal. UV and solvent-curing dries and hardens the printing in a controlled environment, maintaining the consistency and integrity of the final deliverable.

Tight registration is paramount when embossing and fabricating a nameplate. Loose registration can cause misalignment between the embossed features and the ink, creating a cosmetically unacceptable part. Without tight registration, the edges of the drum badges would bleed onto the blue or maroon color of the center and the lettering may appear fuzzy and out-of-focus. Consistent registration targets maintain precise alignment during printing, embossing and fabrication processes to ensure a beautiful product with very little waste.

To learn more about how GMN can work with a rough concept to create professional, high-value branding, check out our nameplate capabilities page.

By Chris Doyle | Jan 20, 2016
Embossed nameplate

As a nameplate manufacturer, GM Nameplate provides a wide range of decorative texture options. One component of building nameplates is embossing; the process of adding raised features to a part for either aesthetic or functional purposes. Cosmetically, embossing can add a 3 dimensional look and feel to the part. Functionally, this process can also add structure and texture to the nameplate. In order to emboss a part, the piece must be tooled and GMN offers three types of tooling to meet a variety of project needs. These three types include etch die tooling, cut die tooling, and coin embossing. Throughout this article, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each process.

To begin, an etch die is a chemical or laser etch done on metal, typically brass, magnesium or steel. This is a common method of tooling at GMN because it is fairly inexpensive, typically costing under $1000 for the tooling equipment. It also has a relatively quick lead time and isn’t limited in the amount of characters that can be embossed on the part. This means that it can handle a wide variety of project requirements. On the other hand, the etch die is limited in how high it can emboss characters. It is also 2 dimensional, meaning that all embossed features will be the same height, and is limited to thinner materials and smaller runs of 10,000 parts or less.

Next, the cut die is typically CNC cut or a pantograph on heat-treated steel, which is also known as class A or steel tooling. The advantages of cut die tooling include 3 dimensional capabilities and the technology to emboss smaller features with sharper radiuses. This method also allows for a long production life of over one million parts. With these advantages come a higher cost and longer tooling lead times depending on part complexity. The cut die can also cause the part material and top coat to stretch which can potentially create sharp embossed edges.

The third method of tooling is known as coin embossing, a process in which only one half of a tool has the part design and is used with a high-tonnage press. The advantages of this process include a lower tooling cost and the ability to use normal PSA adhesives because the part back is solid. This process is typically used for very specific applications because it is limited in decorative options.

Embossing is an important technology when building nameplates to add both texture and structure. Because our business was founded on the creation of nameplates, GMN is proud to provide a variety of embossing options. Stay tuned for another article featuring different nameplate finishing options to enhance part aesthetics.

Learn more in our next blog article: Nameplate decorating options