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By Dan Silva | Mar 15, 2019
Roll label printing

GMN’s San Jose, CA Division recently installed a new flexographic roll label press in the printing department. For years, GMN has utilized flexographic printing for projects across a variety of industries, products, and applications, from the medical industry, to agency labels, to shielding, and much more. This new piece of equipment will enable GMN to carry out the same printing functions as before, but in a better, easier, and faster manner.

Equipped with cutting-edge technology, the new flexographic press is easier to operate and possesses a higher the level of control automation, causing for the entire process to be markedly more precise. It is a 100% servo-drive press with finitely regulated motion control and improved management of web tensions. In addition, the press contains a “pre-registration” feature that enables the machine to put jobs into registration before the press is even turned on by using cameras to align to registration marks. This capability results in reduced waste by saving on the amount of set-up material that is required and increased efficiencies overall.

GMN is constantly looking for ways to improve our manufacturing processes and reduce our carbon footprint. Similar to GMN’s other flexographic presses, the new press uses ultra-violet (UV) radiation to cure the printed inks. Other types of flexographic presses commonly employ medium-pressure mercury lamps to generate the UV radiation needed to cure the inks. Many of these lamps use heavy metals – such as silver, mercury, etc. – and other non-environmentally friendly components. This method also demands large amounts of power and emits high levels of heat.

Whereas this new flexographic press operates using UV LED technology, generating the UV radiation from LED lights. As a result, it consumes about 80% less electricity than the preceding process. This noteworthy characteristic played a critical role in GMN’s decision to invest in this piece of equipment as it aligns with our continuous efforts to be a greener and more environmentally-conscious company.

The excessive amount of heat yielded by the mercury lamps has always been a limiting factor for the curing process. However, our new press’ enhanced heat management of the moving web turns what once was a major drawback into an advantage. By utilizing less electricity, the new press’ curing system produces significantly reduced amounts of heat. With this minimal amount of heat present, the press is able to process heat-sensitive materials such as polystyrene and polyethylene, which are commonly used in the medical and packaging industries.

GMN is always working to find new and different ways to grow and evolve our manufacturing abilities. With the acquisition of this new flexographic printing press for our San Jose, CA Division, GMN can continue to employ the latest innovative technologies and equipment to ensure that we are providing our customers with the highest-quality solutions.

By Brian Rowe | Oct 16, 2017
GMN’s customized LED solution and labels for eMW

eMotorWerks, Inc. (eMW), a California-based company, provides cloud-connected charging solutions for electric vehicles. While developing their first portable electric car charger called the JuiceBox, they approached GM Nameplate (GMN) for labels and a customized LED solution along with labels and overlay.

The initial and largest hurdle for eMW remained design development. They were entering a challenging territory of hardware design for the very first time and the nuances of product design can be extremely daunting. However, the engineers at GMN walked the extra mile to quickly fill that void with decades of experience and knowledge. They heard the needs and concerns of eMW and dug deeper into the applications of the final product to provide the best design considerations. eMW wanted the labels to be robust, water resistant and most importantly, UL-certified. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a widely accepted certification mark verifying that the product has met UL’s safety standards and requirements. As a portable car charger, the JuiceBox would frequently shuttle between indoor and outdoor environments, which meant that the possibility of prolonged exposure to the sun had to be taken into consideration.

A handful of sketches and revisions later, GMN delivered a prototype within a compressed schedule. eMW’s idea was translated into a concrete creation - a customized non-tactile membrane with LED lights. This proposed solution was not only cost-effective, but also offered a range of performance and durability benefits. Currently, GMN manufactures four discrete parts for the JuiceBox – 1) printed circuit with surface-mounted LEDs, 2) UL-certified graphic overlay, 3) UL-certified warning label, and 4) UL-certified product label.

The flexible circuit that lies beneath the overlay is screen printed on a thin polyester sheet using silver conductive ink. It is then masked with an insulation layer to prevent any electrostatic discharge. This entire circuit construction occupies very little space and prevents moisture ingress. Instead of mounting the circuit on top of the bezel, it is mounted to the underside to keep the profile thin. Thanks to the design flexibility that printed circuits offer, it was possible to tailor the size and width of the circuit, length of the flex tail and exit point as necessary. LEDs are then mounted on the circuit layer. LEDs are a simple, long-lasting and economical solution for lighting up small indicators as required in this case. They are bright, energy efficient, light up quickly and emit very little heat. Three distinct colored LEDs - amber, blue and green - indicate the charging status, the Wi-Fi network, and the power status respectively.

The graphic overlay, acting as the face of the printed circuit, directly interacts with the final user. Hence, striking a synergy between aesthetics and functionality was crucial here. The overlay is printed on a highly-durable polycarbonate with a velvet-textured, anti-glare finish. The background is screen printed to provide opacity. The opaque layer reduces lighted halos of the LEDs by allowing light only through the designated indicators on the surface. The overlay is resistant to water, chemicals and abrasions. The chosen material also provides good UV (ultraviolet) resistance, making it ideal for outdoor settings.

The warning label is produced in the same manner as the graphic overlay, using the same materials, techniques and finishes. While the contrasting black-&-white color palette ensures good readability, the orange rim enhances the appearance of the label. 

The product label that sits on the anterior of the charger is digitally printed on polyester and then covered with a UV-resistant lamination. The protective layer makes the label resilient for its intended indoor & outdoor use by mitigating the fading of ink under the sun. The combination of material, inks, and construction will allow the UL-compliant labels and overlay to retain their appearance for years. 

From design consultation to final production, GMN walked hand-in-hand with eMW throughout the entire process. This fulfilling partnership allowed the timely delivery of a cost-effective, customized solution. To learn more about our custom-made membrane switch solutions, check out our capabilities page here