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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.

Todd Boedecker, GMN
By Todd Boedecker | Jul 15, 2016
GMN’s laser capabilities

Upon hearing the word “lasers” many people think of an action-packed scene from Star Wars. The lasers used in manufacturing may not be of the lightsaber variety, but they do play an important role in production today. 

While there are many applications for lasers in the fields of research, law enforcement, and medical practices to name a few, we are going to focus on manufacturing in this article. GM Nameplate (GMN) is equipped with laser machines that are used for both cutting and etching. The first process is used to cut parts from sheets or rolls of material while the second typically provides a decorative function by engraving a piece or removing ink from a part.

Laser cutting is best used for applications including prototypes, program development, low volume production, parts with small or intricate features (such as interconnected holes for two-sided circuits), and materials that cannot be cut with a tool. The lead time for laser cutting is faster compared to die cutting and changes can be made quickly with programming instead of tool modifications. In contrast, cutting time is typically longer than punching time so piece price is normally higher with laser cutting. 

In addition to cutting, lasers are also used for etching. Through this technology, parts can be engraved or marked. One way etching is used is to remove paint or ink from the surface of a part to allow the material underneath to show through. For example, GMN has utilized laser etching capabilities for various automotive gear shift indicator parts by removing a top layer of paint to reveal various colors underneath. One of these programs can be seen in our case study. Laser etching can be done on a variety of materials including plastic, rubber, and metal. Laser etching is often chosen for its ability to achieve fine detail. It is an extremely accurate process and is repeatable to support high volume cycles.

GMN has decades of experience using lasers to fabricate a variety of products including overlays, nameplates, and circuits. Our understanding of laser cutting and etching along with the wide range of materials used in our production allows us to react quickly to our customers’ needs.  We are able output parts using lasers with visual aesthetics and tolerances that meet or exceed other fabrication methods.   

With world-class laser capabilities located at facilities around the globe, GMN is equipped with the technologies needed to meet customer needs wherever and whenever they arise.

Link to PRNDL case study