value-added assembly

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By Sandy Dick | Jul 12, 2018
Value-added assembly for iSolved's time clock

iSolved, a US-based company providing scalable solution to human capital management needs, was developing a series of backlit time clock devices. However, they quickly ran into problems with LED hotspots and approached GMN to develop a graphic overlay prototype to get rid of the lighting issue.

Developing a product with multiple suppliers and manufacturing facilities can be a time-consuming and expensive ordeal. But, GMN’s holistic approach to building devices and its reputation as a one-call, one-stop-manufacturer allowed iSolved to bring substantial cost and time savings to the project, while meeting all of their functional and cosmetic requirements.

GMN not only manufactured a scratch-resistant overlay to mask the hotspots, but also streamlined the project using its varied capabilities including capacitive touch circuit, backlighting, die-cutting, LCD display, and touchscreen.

To learn more about how GMN delivered a value-added, cost-effective solution, download our case study here.

By Kenny Pravitz | May 3, 2018
Value-added assembly is a process where the value of an article is increased at each stage of manufacturing.

There are typically a variety of pieces and processes involved in making a complete part. As a result, customers sometimes require several different suppliers to make each specific component of the assembly. Even smaller products can have a long list of components and suppliers. During the manufacturing process, costs can vary greatly and the time it takes for products to be completed depends on a range of factors, one of them being how long the supply chain is. In general, a shorter supply channel means your products will get to market quicker, with fewer costs. A great way to shorten your supply chain can be to partner with suppliers that offer value-added processes, or can provide multiple different services or aspects of production.

Value-add can be defined as a process where the value of an article is increased at each stage of its manufacturing, bringing an enhanced benefit and cost savings to the customer.

As a value-added supplier, GM Nameplate’s (GMN) plastics division in Beaverton, OR created a video that demonstrates the value-added assembly process of a medical part. In this video, you can see the stages that these molded parts go through to reach the completed subassembly. Similar to most projects at GMN’s plastics division, the process begins with injection molding. Once that part is molded, it can be decorated, depending on what the customer wants. Offering different decorating options, such as screen printing or hot stamping, after a part is formed is an example of a value-added benefit.

In the video, an operator can be seen placing 17 brass inserts in different bosses of the molded part. To make sure the inserts are properly installed every time, the operator places the molded part in a poka-yoke (Japanese term for “mistake-proofing”) fixture. The molded part will only fit in the fixture one way, so the operator installs the inserts into the correct bosses. These inserts are then heat staked, where a heating element makes contact with each brass insert. The insert then transfers heat to the boss, melting the plastic around the screw. This enables the screw to be removed without stripping the plastic.

Next, the video shows the part being placed in another fixture where a three-camera vision system verifies all the inserts were properly installed. This vision system also has a poka-yoke fixture to ensure consistent verification. Once the vision system notifies the operator that all inserts were properly installed, the part moves to the next value-add station. We see the molded part moved to an assembly fixture where a blue latch-spring component (which is also injection molded by GMN) is assembled to the main plastic enclosure. After this, an operator installs gasketing to the perimeter of the part. Finally, the part is inspected and then packaged for shipment.

From beginning to end, multiple different components and processes were used to make this part, all under one roof. This added value allows customers a cost savings as well as a streamlined supply chain, as several components were completed by one manufacturer, instead of multiple vendors for each individual operation. GMN takes a holistic approach to building your device, and the breadth and depth of our internal capabilities bring increased control, predictability, and reduced costs to your supply chain.

To watch this process in action, click play on the video below. 

By Sandy Dick | Jul 11, 2017
CONMED membrane switch assembly

CONMED, a global medical technology company, came to GM Nameplate (GMN) in need of a membrane switch for the control panel of their surgical generator. With diverse capabilities and decades of experience working with the medical industry, GMN was able to provide not only each component of the membrane switch, but the complete, value-added assembly of the part as well.

The graphic overlay was printed using a combination of screen and litho printing and included multiple display windows and LED indicators. The overlay’s background colors were screen printed to achieve a high opacity, which helped to prevent light bleed from the illuminated LEDs. Litho printing was used to apply fine details and halftone patterns to the part. A halftone dot pattern was printed on top of the background to create a gradient effect on the keys and along the top of the overlay. Creating a halftone pattern that achieved the customer’s desired aesthetic proved to be challenging, but the ideal look was reached after several trials of testing various pattern constructions (altering dot size and space between the dots). GMN also printed the membrane circuit that goes behind the overlay and connects to the LEDs and switches.

Another challenge faced during this project was choosing the correct snap domes for the different-sized keys to create a good tactile feel. The difficulty stemmed from the unusual shapes of the keys and various sizes of domes. As a consistent layer across the entire part, the spacer interacts simultaneously with every dome and affects each dome size differently. Therefore, GMN had to carefully review the stack-up to include a spacer layer with the optimal thickness to give every dome size enough room to provide a crisp tactile feel.

A variety of layers were required in the stack-up in order to ensure that the part would function properly. ESD shielding was placed under the circuit connector to protect from static discharge and an aluminum subpanel was added to support the otherwise flexible structure. A foam gasket surrounded the outside of the panel to seal the area from outside moisture and fluids. Finally, due to a concern of the closeness to the electrical components beneath the panel, an insulating layer was added to the backside of the subpanel to prevent the electrical components from shorting out against this metal layer.

From early development through full-scale production, GMN worked closely with the customer to develop this product and provide design considerations for part manufacturability. As a product used in the operating room, GMN held multiple pilot runs to ensure the part functioned as intended and met the customer’s standards. 

CONMED surgical generator with GMN's membrane switch assembly.

By Steve Baker | Mar 8, 2016
Value-added assembly for SonoSite ultrasound

SonoSite, a medical device manufacturer, needed a branded solution for the monitor of their X-Porte Ultrasound System. GM Nameplate became involved in the program by providing custom glass decoration to showcase the SonoSite logo. As the program progressed, GMN was able to offer additional components of the device including both functional and cosmetic pieces. You can learn more about this program in GMN's case study.

Elise Harrington, GMN
By Elise Harrington | Jul 30, 2014
Streamline your supply chain with GM Nameplate

When considering which suppliers to work with, it’s important to look at every detail that will go into making the product.  Will you need engineering and design assistance?  How many and what types of components will go into the final product?  What kind of electronic components will be involved? Where and how will the parts be assembled?  What types of printing and fabrication capabilities are necessary?  Will you incorporate plastic bezels or overlays?  When evaluating all of the factors that go into manufacturing a product and the amount of communication that will be involved, it can quickly become overwhelming.  GM Nameplate offers a solution to that problem, allowing customers the ability to consolidate vendors over the entire production chain.

Within the manufacturing industry, vendor consolidation is a growing trend as it allows customers to save time and money.  GM Nameplate’s diverse and value-added capabilities allow for companies to take advantage of cost-savings.  By offering multiple aspects of production rather than just a single capability, it results in direct benefits to the customer.

Fewer suppliers, means reduced communication which ultimately saves time.  A stronger line of communication with one vendor rather than scattered communication with multiple vendors means you get the peace of mind that your vision won’t get lost. Consolidating vendors also means fewer invoices, lower delivery costs, and faster lead times of the final component.

GM Nameplate is continually adding complementary capabilities to provide value-added products for our customers.  We have the capabilities to take ownership of the entire process from conception to completed part. The variety of skills we offer is something we hope all of our customers will take advantage of and we will continue to grow our capabilities in the future.  To learn more about our value-added services and how they can help your organization, explore our capabilities.