Blog

By Brad Root Mar 28, 2019
Robotic automation at GMN

From steam engines to mass production to digital technology, the shifting landscape of manufacturing has paved the path for the fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. Marked by the automation and digitization of the manufacturing processes, Industry 4.0 throws the spotlight on “smart manufacturing”. GMN has always been in the vanguard of adopting new technologies and has embraced automation from the early days to meet the most articulate needs of our customers. Featuring everything from assembly lines to inspection booths, our latest video will give you a glimpse into the robotic automation utilized at GMN.

GMN is gradually implementing autonomous systems throughout the different phases of production including part handling, assembly, rapid prototyping, inspection, and more. On the factory floor, accomplishing even the most routine tasks like loading and unloading parts or transporting parts from one station to the other on the assembly line can be extremely tedious. By eliminating such repetitive and time-consuming activities with automation, GMN is able to create more engaging opportunities for our skilled workforce. As seen in the video, technological advancements have equipped us to program custom multi-jointed robots to successfully handle tiny, irregular, or complex-shaped components with the utmost dexterity. Whether it is aligning and assembling two components, applying a uniform layer of liquid adhesive, bonding two surfaces with consistent pressure, or uniformly spraying paint on a part, robotic automation has allowed GMN to maintain speed, accuracy, and consistency that is unmatched by humans. Contrary to popular belief that robots are employed to replace humans, GMN envisions a future where humans and robots work collaboratively alongside each other.

While automation is taking massive strides at GMN, our unwavering focus has always been on quality and value creation. Today, GMN is leveraging real-time data to optimize operations, streamline processes, and boost productivity. For instance, the engineers at GMN rely on historic and real-time data to perform predictive maintenance on its tools and machinery. By forecasting machine failure ahead of time, it can reduce machine downtime and maintain quicker response times for production issues. With the integration of smart interconnected systems, GMN is transforming the way it identifies, manages, and eliminates production bottleneck.

In this automation era, when the time from conceptualization to creation is shrinking faster than ever, GMN understands that efficiency and agility are key in delivering high-quality products. Hence, automation at GMN is not only reserved for high and medium-volume production runs, but also deployed for developing our quick-turn prototyping solutions.

The computerization of manufacturing has opened doors to greater efficiency and truly enabled GMN in increasing output and streamlining production. With unremitting efforts and initiatives towards automating our entire value chain, GMN is steadily inching towards its vision of a “smart factory”. To see how GMN is adopting automation in fabrication across all its global divisions, watch our video below.

By Jim Badders Mar 22, 2019
Liquid resin for bonding

Liquid optically clear adhesive (LOCA) is one of the most popular and preferred bonding solutions for display integration. DBA 4235, the newest variant of DuPont™ Vertak® bonding adhesives, is an optically clear resin specifically designed for rugged environments. With the ability to bond rigid-to-rigid and LCD-to-rigid material, this new generation resin is suitable for most display designs.

DBA 4235’s higher viscosity reduces the flow of excess adhesive and fills contoured and uneven surfaces better than dry film optical adhesive. From military to aerospace, the resin can meet the most rigorous demands of highly-regulated industries and doesn’t fall prey to premature degradation over time. It can not only withstand long-term wear and tear, but also endure extreme temperatures, sustained vibrations, and heavy impacts without compromising on durability. By preventing condensation and fogging, the resin plays a crucial role in enhancing the readability and performance of the device. In all bonding applications, the ability to deconstruct the various layers of a bonded display provides significant flexibility in terms of designing and keeping the manufacturing costs in control. When compared to other resins, DBA 4235 scores high on its reworkability.

 When compared to consumer grade resins, the DBA 4235 resin offers the following advantages -

  • Higher viscosity and superior adhesion
  • Reworkability
  • Improved durability
  • Condensation and fogging prevention
  • Resistance to temperature and impact

As a licensed convertor of DuPont’s Vertak® technology, GMN has started employing DBA 4235 in all its LOCA solutions, namely laptops, touch panels, and hand-held devices. On the production floor, automated robotic dispensing equipment is routinely utilized to apply this UV curable resin, making the process extremely clean, consistent, and repeatable. GMN uses a combination of automated and manual inspection systems to flag defects and ensure that products meet the exact customer specifications. First, an automated camera system identifies major defects and imperfections in bonding such as bubbles, contamination, and defective pixels. Then, it is followed by a manual inspection process that detects intricate flaws like surface blemishes, smears, handprints, and more.

 With years of experience in front panel integration and bonding solutions, the experts at GMN rely only on the industry’s finest technologies to serve a wide range of industries. The new-generation optically clear resin from DuPont™ has truly empowered GMN to create products of the highest quality and deliver maximum value to customers.

Dan-Silva-GMN
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 Richard Smylie Feb 28, 2019
Stainless steel fabrication

From the automotive to appliance industry, whenever a design demands a blend of functionality and aesthetics, a stainless steel construction is commonly given significant consideration. With three times the density of aluminum, stainless steel exhibits superior structural integrity and dent resistance. It not only offers overall brush patterns and brilliant finishes like 2BA, but also provides substantial formability and hardness. Thanks to its unmatched versatility and corrosion resistance, stainless steel is heavily employed in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Our latest video, featuring a stainless steel Lincoln liftgate part, demonstrates one of the many stainless-steel parts fabricated at GMN. As the thickness of the metal primarily drives the tonnage of the press use, the featured liftgate part is processed in a 200-ton press. The fabrication process begins by setting the press with a tool to form the flat, pre-decorated steel sheet. After the sheets are formed, the same press is set with another tool to blank the parts to size, and eventually set with a third tool to create a curved skirt around the edges of the part. In a nutshell, three different dies are sequentially installed one after the other on a single press to form, punch, and finish the flat metal sheet.

In addition to the manufacturing process showcased in the video, GMN also utilizes progressive dies to efficiently fabricate large and complex parts that require more tooling. Depending on the design intent and part size, stainless steel can be fabricated in one progressive die and/or supported with multiple secondary operations sequentially set-up on the same press to bend, coin, blank, or fold the metal. As a part of the post-fabrication process, nickel or chrome plating is frequently applied to stainless steel surfaces and edges to protect the part from harsh environmental conditions.

Whether it is a ferritic (magnetic) or austenitic (non-magnetic) alloy, GMN specializes in the fabrication of different grades and alloys of stainless steel including type 200, 304, and 430. With the ability to fabricate parts up to 40 X 15 inches and up to 1mm thickness, GMN frequently works with steel of different shapes, sizes, and tensile strength. As your one-stop-shop for metal fabrication and decoration needs, GMN also has the capability to emboss, deboss, apply selective or overall mechanical finish, and print patterns or textures before fabricating metal sheets. With global resources in supporting medium to high volume production, you can rely on GMN to help you select the most optimum alloy, process, and equipment to meet your custom metal fabrication needs.

To see the stainless steel fabrication process in action, watch our latest video here.  

By Steve Baker Feb 27, 2019
Case study: Commercial appliance capacitive touch solution

Adopting new technologies can be extremely demanding and daunting. At GMN, we not only understand your vision, but also have the capabilities and global resources to bring your ideas to life.

When a commercial appliance manufacturer wanted to make a fundamental shift in their product’s user interface from mechanical switches to touch technology, the engineers at GMN brought their years of experience, technical know-how, and vast capabilities together to design an optimal solution. From circuit tracing to utilizing clear polymer inks, GMN developed a capacitive touch solution that fit every need and requirement.

To learn more about the evolution of this project and how GMN overcame its many challenges, read our case study here.

Lauren Rowles, GMN
By Lauren Rowles Feb 21, 2019
GMN named 2018 Manufacturer of the Year Award by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound

We are excited to announce that GMN was recently honored with the Manufacturer of the Year Award from the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound (CAMPS). This award was accepted at CAMPS’ 2018 Award and Recognition Banquet, an event that celebrates a variety of manufacturers from all over the Puget Sound region.

The CAMPS Manufacturer of the Year Award highlights companies that exhibit unmatched success in the areas of company profitability, innovation, community impact, CAMPS participation, and leadership.

GMN has been a CAMPS member for over a decade and has worked to participate and add value in any way possible, from presentations, to hosting meetings, to serving on panels. We are also greatly appreciative of the programs and support that we’ve received through CAMPS and member companies, which have helped GMN continue to grow and flourish. This award recognizes GMN for being a consistent, long-time contributor to CAMPS as well as an outstanding manufacturer and representative for the Puget Sound region.

To learn more, please read our press release here.

Micheal Carr
By Micheal Carr Feb 05, 2019
Aerospace Quality Assurance Team

At GMN Aerospace, we continually focus on ways to enhance our lean manufacturing and waste reduction efforts, including activities such as our value-stream team (VST) events in collaboration with our customers. So, when I came into the fold at GM Nameplate (GMN) as the new supervisor of the aerospace quality assurance team, I planned to take measures to make any improvements possible within the quality assurance team and process. During my initial introduction, I observed a team with a high degree of focus and quality of work, with an opportunity for an increase in morale as well.

To begin, my first priority was to listen to my team. Once a week for six weeks, I asked my team members to give me a suggestion on how to improve their work in any way. Following each round of submissions, I immediately acted upon the suggestions that were feasible.

Next, I worked on cross-training the team on the various types of quality assurance that occur within our department. This effort helps to ensure the work load is evenly distributed and allows us to continue to produce high-quality results even when a team member is absent.

I then focused on improvements to our work area, including changing the way that our desk pods are situated and more efficiently organizing supplies. We are forming contingencies to make the best use of the space possible and to create a more peaceful and productive work environment.

In addition, we started to consider reinstating the “Jet Line process,” wherein the responsibility for a single job is split between two team members. The last time this strategy was implemented, we experienced a 20% increase in production. Therefore, moving forward, I am looking into altering a few work protocols in order to fit in the “Jet Line process” within our department.

Finally, I reviewed an ergonomic assessment that had been conducted by workplace performance experts. In this assessment I uncovered instructions to implement a five-minute mini-break. During this five-minute break, you can stretch your body, shift your mood, have a laugh, take a few deep breaths, or change your perspective (by looking somewhere besides your screen). You can use it to recharge your batteries, reduce the negative effects of stress, and reconnect to your sense of well-being.

As a result, I initialized a once-per-hour five-minute mini-break for our group. The response was immediate and extremely positive.

Led by a different team member at the top of each hour, my entire team would stand up and partake in activities such as looking over 20 feet away, using resistance bands, and stretching. Now, I regularly hear laughter and open dialogue on ways we can improve the work performance of the entire group and see team members assisting each other to overcome small challenges.

Overall, the aerospace quality assurance team at GMN is actively and effectively working to increase productivity and morale within our team, and the results have been tangible. As we continue to improve these efforts, we can continue to serve our customers at the highest possible level of quality and service.

By Josh Dunahoe Jan 24, 2019

A US-based customer of GMN was designing an electrical connection between two plastic housings for an outdoor application. In order to establish the connection, it was vital to achieve a permanent, air-tight seal between the two housings. Given the nature of the design, even the slightest ingress of moisture or foreign particles would hinder the optimal performance and durability of the product. Hence, shielding the seal from dust and water was critical. Additionally, the seal also needed protection from extreme temperatures and flames.   

Originally, the customer utilized a bead of silicone (silicone rubber paste) on the edges of the two housings that hardened over time to form a seal. However, this approach presented several manufacturing challenges and shortcomings. Dispensing a uniform layer of silicone rubber was not only cumbersome, but also inconsistent, leading to an uneven bond line. As the paste became rigid upon drying, it formed a seal that was susceptible to breaking under stress, thereby producing cracks and weakening the bond strength. The drying and curing of the silicone rubber paste also spiked up the processing time, creating a bottleneck on the assembly line.

The customer approached GMN to achieve a better form-fitting solution to prevent moisture ingress. After learning about the environmental conditions that the seal was required to withstand, GMN proposed a custom-fit Roger’s BISCO® silicone foam gasket. From the extensive range of BISCO® silicones available in the market, GMN narrowed it down to HT-800 family to strike the right balance between seal-ability and compressibility. As a Preferred Converter of Rogers Corporation, GMN delivered a high-performance solution with accelerated lead time and competitive pricing.

Roger’s BISCO® silicone, with its high flame resistance, seamlessly fit the needs of the project. In addition to excellent viscoelasticity, it provided high dimensional stability and sealing capability. Contrary to the previous solution, BISCO® silicone foam does not break under stress or pressure. It allowed for quick and easy application, eliminating the extra processing time associated with bead of silicone.

Although, selecting the right material wasn’t enough. Creating a custom shaped gasket to fit the exact configurations of the housings was equally important. Since the customer had initially planned to utilize silicone paste, they did not have the dimensions of the housings readily available. Based on the customer’s sketch and 3D file of the housings, GMN developed a CAD file for the laser tool to fabricate the gasket. By flowing into every nook and cranny of the surface area, the gasket flawlessly married the two housings together to achieve an enhanced seal.

With the help of GMN’s dedicated rapid prototyping team and equipment, we then created two distinct prototypes of custom BISCO® silicone foam HT-800 gaskets in two different thicknesses and durometers. It enabled the customer to test compression and seal strength of the two different gaskets and choose the most optimal solution.

GMN’s ability to determine and source the right material and create a tailored-fit gasket allowed the customer to meet the functional requirements of the project without compromising on the aesthetics. Given our extensive experience and technical expertise with die-cut components, customers can truly rely on GMN to efficiently provide quick design fixes and improvements.

By Steve Baker Jan 17, 2019

It’s that time of the year again when the medical manufacturing community comes together to showcase its latest products and technologies at Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West. Attracting professionals across the country, this premier MedTech event also provides unparalleled networking opportunities and a platform to share new ideas and developments.

From February 5-7th, GMN will be exhibiting in booth #1659 at the Anaheim Convention Center. As a custom manufacturer of medical device components and sub-assemblies, GMN will be featuring its most recent user-interface solutions and varied capabilities including plastic injection molding, capacitive touch sensors, die-cut components, value-added assembly, and more! Aligning with the leading trends, our newest samples on display will help you discover the many ways you can integrate popular technologies to make your products pop.

Our team of experts will be on site to discuss your upcoming projects and toughest manufacturing challenges. To schedule a personal consultation with a GMN representative, reach out to us directly at info@gmnameplate.com

Chris Passanante, GMN
By Chris Passanante Jan 08, 2019
Elite Plastics gets a makeover!

GMN is welcoming the new year with exciting changes! Effective today, we are rebranding Elite Plastics to GMN Plastics. In addition to unifying the company’s different brands (GMN Aerospace and GMN Automotive), the new name and logo will continue to put the focus on our plastic services, while also reflecting the full extent of the vertically-integrated capabilities and solutions that GMN can provide.

This rebranding initiative has allowed us to reflect on all the successes we have celebrated as “Elite Plastics”, and everything we aspire to achieve as “GMN Plastics”. We hope to embark upon a new journey in the growth of our plastics capabilities and services under the new brand name, GMN Plastics.

To learn more about the rebranding, read our press release here.