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By Kenny Pravitz May 03, 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. 

Nick Schmidt
By Nick Schmidt May 02, 2018
Aircraft Interiors Expo

The Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) held in Hamburg, Germany is the premier local for cabin interiors, where the latest in technologies and innovations are launched for the aerospace industry. This year was no disappointment on what’s next for passenger experience, most notably in aircraft seating. Aircraft seating is a space in which GMN Aerospace has been quite successful in supporting its customers, from design support for manufacturability of plastic injection molded parts to integrating capacitive touch technology in passenger control units for business class seats. At AIX this year, GMN Aerospace displayed products in several seats of industry leaders at the show.

Notable events at the show included the success of German seat manufacturer RECARO, who continues to lead the market in delivering over 100,000 PAX places (seats) annually, and Jamco’s announcement of their launch customer for the new Venture seat, designed to complement the 787 (similar to the Lift by EnCore Tourist Class seat that is continuing to make waves in both 787 & 737 for economy class). Adient also launched its joint venture with The Boeing Company. GMN Aerospace was invited alongside Boeing to view the new suites launched at the show.

GMN Aerospace continues to invest in helping its customers successfully bring their parts from prototypes to certified products, with on-time delivery and world-class consistency of quality. We enjoy attending premium industry events such as AIX to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies that are emerging in the aerospace realm.

By Chris Doyle Apr 30, 2018
ElectraGraphic nameplates

ElectraGraphics is the process of plating stainless steel with chrome or gold to create a raised or recessed image. Bringing together a handsome blend of elegance and durability, the meticulous procedure of electroplating creates a low-profile, three-dimensional nameplate with crisp details. Suited for small parts with detailed graphics, the process handles fine lines and intricate designs very well. If you are looking for a high-end identification piece that communicates quality and luxury, ElectraGraphics is the undoubted answer.

Depending on the design, the process of creating an ElectraGraphic nameplate can combine one or both of the following stages:

a) Screen printing: The stainless-steel sheet that forms the base of the nameplate is first screen printed with the desired colors. With this process, any combination of colors can be added to the design. However, if the design doesn’t require any colors, the nameplate can directly proceed to the next process.

b) Photo-imaging: Photo-imaging is performed only if there is any bare stainless steel exposing through the nameplate that is not electroplated. The steel can have multiple decorative finishes including brushed, satin, and spin. In this process, the steel sheet (plain, decorated, or screen-printed) is brought to a dark room where it is entirely laminated with a photo-resist, a photo-sensitive material. The area that needs to be electroplated is masked and the resist in the remaining portion is cured by exposing it to light. Finally, the entire sheet is cleaned with a high pH solution. The solution reacts with the resist on masked area that wasn’t affected by light, eventually showing off the bare metal. This masked portion of the nameplate is then electroplated in the next stage.

After screen printing and/or photo-imaging, the stainless-steel sheet is thoroughly cleaned in an anodic bath to get rid of any oil, finger prints, or contamination. It is then sequentially dipped in four different plating tanks - nickel wood strike, copper, nickel sulfate, and chrome (or 24-karat gold, depending on the design). Electroplating remains the most crucial phase because it not only gives the nameplates a shiny metallic look, but also makes them resistant to corrosion. Any unwanted variances in this process can severely impact the adherence of the plating layers, thus affecting the longevity of the nameplates. Hence, the temperature of the plating tanks, voltage, and the length of immersion is closely controlled for every application.

As a custom-manufacturer of nameplates, GMN has worked with several leading companies including Starbucks, HP, Boeing, IBM, Cadillac, Fluke, and Konami to create ElectraGraphic nameplates of unmatched quality and consistency. The metallic elegance of these one-of-a-kind nameplates continues to attract a wide range of industries such as consumer electronics, computer and office equipment, musical instruments, cosmetics packaging, and hand-held appliances.

Autumn Santa Ana, Director of Corporate Quality & Regulations
By Autumn Santa Ana Apr 26, 2018
GMN upgrades to AS9100D:2016 certification

GM Nameplate (GMN) is thrilled to have received AS9100D:2016 certification in April 2018. This latest certification, applies to a multi-site certificate for three GMN facilities including the Seattle, WA Division, San Jose, CA Division, and Beaverton, OR Division. It symbolizes GMN’s dedication to continuous improvement and the desire to exceed customer quality expectations.

What is AS9100?

AS9100 is an aerospace Quality Management System (QMS) standard. It is based on the international QMS standard ISO 9001, and provides additional requirements specific to the aerospace industry. In a sector governed by federal aviation, space and defense regulations, a AS9100 QMS helps businesses to adapt to the evolving needs and requirements of the aerospace industry. It not only provides a framework for businesses to operate, but also provides customers with confidence about the quality and reliability of the products they receive.

What is AS9100 Rev D?

The international QMS standards are regularly updated to stay relevant to industry needs and adapt to emerging trends. The latest update from AS9100 Rev C to Rev D was released in September 2016 and companies have until September 2018 to transition to the new standard. The revision also aligns the AS9100 standard to the newest revision of ISO 9001 which was released in 2015. AS9100 Rev D puts the spotlight on creating value for customers by integrating QMS requirements into the company’s business processes. During this latest update, significant areas of revision pertain to product safety, counterfeit prevention, risk management, human factors, and configuration management.

GMN’s commitment to quality

GMN first added AS9100 certification to its list of quality certifications in 2007 to support the dynamic needs of the aerospace industry and the customers we serve, like The Boeing Company. GMN underwent an extensive eight-day upgrade audit at its multiple manufacturing sites to obtain the AS9100 Rev D certification. Advancing to the new revision represents our compliance with the most current set of requirements of the rigorous aerospace standards. Conformance to these standards ensures that GMN maintains the highest level of product quality and process control in its manufacturing facilities. After all, quality is an ongoing process.

By Chris Doyle Apr 17, 2018
Lensclad or thin-doming technology

Lensclad, also known as thin doming, is a proprietary solution by GMN that creates visually-striking and durable nameplates. Compatible with aluminum substrates, the process of Lensclad involves the application of a clear urethane topcoat that encapsulates the entire nameplate. The coating not only shields the nameplate from challenging conditions such as dust, gravel, temperature fluctuations, and humidity, but also adds significant scuff and mar resistance. It also acts as a lens, thus magnifying the underlying colors and features of the design.

Meeting at the crossroads of functionality and aesthetics, Lensclad is a self-healing technology. While all nameplates experience scratches, dents, or chip damage over time, this self-healing technology allows nameplates to absorb damages and restore itself back to its original form. The protective coating is formulated using UV inhibitors which helps it to stay clear and prevents it from yellowing. By enduring most of the “real world” harsh environments, Lensclad averts everyday wear and tear from deteriorating the overall quality of the nameplate.

Lensclad can be applied on flat or curved profiles, and embossed or debossed graphics, making it ideal for a diverse range of products and industries. The strength and durability of Lensclad doming enables the nameplate to withstand heavy impacts and corrosive environments. The technology also meets the rigorous requirements of automotive performance standards, making it a great choice for outdoor applications including cars, boats, and industrial equipment. Cosmetically speaking, Lensclad enhances the look of the nameplate, making it an equally great choice for indoor applications such as consumer goods, home appliances, cosmetic packaging, and car interiors.

Lensclad adds a thickness of 0.008” to the nameplate. This technology gives us the flexibility to vary the hardness of the urethane coating to fit the application. A thicker version of Lensclad, known as magni-lens, is also available, which adds a thickness of 0.060” to the nameplate. While the manufacturing process of magni-lens nameplates varies from that of Lensclad, it eventually offers the same functionality. For applying the thick doming, a nozzle filled with urethane coating applies the resin while moving across the surface of the nameplate. The resin gradually “wets out” the entire surface and dries over a period of 24 hours. The thickness of the nozzle head, the amount of resin it meters out, the direction in which the nozzle moves, and the time it takes to travel across the surface of the nameplate is customized and programmed for every unique application.

GMN has manufactured Lensclad nameplates for several well-known companies including Ford, MAC cosmetics, Honda, Excel dryers, and Estee Lauder to name a few. This performance-driven and cost-effective solution from GMN is truly a game-changer in elevating and preserving the look of your nameplates over time.

By Jim Badders Apr 12, 2018
Different glass printing techniques

To ensure the success of any glass-printing application, there are numerous factors that go under consideration such as the glass type, inherent tint of the glass, ink type, ink color, curing process, and environmental conditions. However, one crucial factor that needs to be determined is the print method. Glass can be printed on using one of the three techniques - screen printing, digital printing, or frit printing. While all these methods support different shapes, sizes, thicknesses, types of glasses, and allow the use of multiple colors, there are unique pros and cons that distinguish them.

1) Screen printing: Well-suited for a wide range of applications, screen printing is the most cost-effective and most dominantly used glass printing technique. It primarily utilizes two types of inks: enamel inks and UV-cured inks, both offering good opacity. UV-cured inks offer a larger color selection than enamel inks. Since every color requires a separate screen, the process can be time-consuming if the design has several colors involved. In most cases, the graphic features are printed on the rear side of the glass, which eventually gets sealed or bonded with a touchscreen or display. Except for the edges of the glass, the ink is almost never directly exposed to ambient conditions and corrosion. However, if the ink is not specially formulated for printing on glass, it can lose adhesion and begin to chip off very quickly.

2) Digital printing: Digital printing on glass works like a regular inkjet printer, where all you need is a digital art file to print. It offers greater flexibility in terms of changing designs at the last minute. Unlike screen printing, where even the smallest design variation requires the construction of a new screen, modifying an art file for digital printing is extremely quick and easy. This makes it a great choice for prototyping and achieving faster time-to-market products. But it is important to note that the inks utilized for glass digital printing are thinner as compared to the inks employed in screen printing. Hence, while working with light or pastel shades, multiple layers may be required to achieve a sufficient level of opacity. This can lead to increased thickness, posing challenges in the optical bonding process. In contrast to screen printing, where one color is printed at a time, digital printing also allows printing of all the different colors at once. Digital printing on glass is currently undergoing continuous developments to accommodate more types of inks.  

3) Frit printing: Frit printing is very similar to screen printing with the exception of the ink utilized and the curing process. A unique powdered-glass ink is screen printed on the glass and then cured during the heat tempering process. It causes the ink to fuse to the glass, thus offering strong adhesion and making it extremely difficult to remove or scratch the ink off. Since frit printing offers the highest durability out of all the techniques, it is chosen for demanding applications where the glass is regularly exposed to challenging environmental conditions such as in the defense, heavy industrial and automotive sector. However, it is also the most expensive printing method and therefore, not as frequently employed. One of the limitations of this method is that while frit printing can be done on heat-tempered glass, it cannot be utilized for chemically-strengthened glass and the glass thickness is limited to greater than 2mm. Frit colors are also limited to black, white, and some grays.

Bringing together the right mix of functionality and durability for your custom application, the experts at GM Nameplate (GMN) can not only help you select the most suitable printing technique for your glass application, but also support your glass printing and bonding needs from prototyping through production. To learn more about GMN’s bonding solutions, visit our capabilities page here

By Kenny Pravitz Mar 27, 2018
A softer plastic resin can be over-molded to a rigid plastic all within the same process with two-shot molding.

When you look at or feel a plastic component, you would usually assume that it’s made of one type of plastic. However, some plastic products are actually made using two different types of resin, sometimes more. You are probably familiar with this application which can be seen in plastic toothbrushes that have a rubberized grip. The main body of the toothbrush is made of a rigid plastic, while the grip is made of a rubberized plastic. Even though there are two different types of plastic present, both were formed at the same time using two-shot molding.

GM Nameplate’s (GMN) plastics division in Beaverton, OR recently created a video that demonstrates this two-shot molding process. The process is called two-shot molding because there are two different resins being injected by two separate barrels. There is a primary barrel, which injects the first resin, forming a rigid substrate in most cases. The secondary barrel then injects a different resin on top of or surrounding the region of the first substrate.

Depending on the size and intricacy of the part, you can design the tool to make several parts in each cycle. In the video, we see that two parts are completed during each cycle. On the left side, the rigid substrate is injected by the primary barrel and forms the backbone of the two components. The tool then rotates 180 degrees, and the rubberized plastic is injected onto those two pieces by the secondary barrel. While this is being done, two more rigid substrates are made at the same time again by the primary barrel on the left side. After the pieces are injected by the secondary barrel, an end-of-arm tool picks up the completed parts, and then the tool rotates 180 degrees once more, ready to start a new cycle.

Two-shot molding is ideal for higher volume projects, as more engineering is used in designing the two-shot molding tool. The tooling used for two-shot molding is intricate because it must inject two different plastic resins simultaneously, but only in certain features of the part. Two-shot molding is a much more efficient process for high-volume projects compared to conventional over-molding, where you use two separate tools to manufacture parts with different resins. Due to this efficient output, two-shot molding is frequently used in the automotive and medical industries.

Click on the video below to see the two-shot molding process for yourself!

Clark Mehan
By Clark Mehan Mar 22, 2018
Different surface energy of different substrates

Pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSA) have made it possible to permanently adhere two dissimilar substrates together. While bonding two surfaces together, there are several factors that need to be considered including surface tension and texture of the substrate, bond strength, surface area, environmental conditions, design, and product application. However, one crucial factor that influences the selection of adhesive is the surface energy of a substrate. Surface energy is the excess energy that flows on the surface of the substrate and is measured in dynes/cm. The dyne level is the actual reading of the critical surface tension.

Based on the surface energy, substrates can be broadly categorized into three groups - high surface energy (HSE), medium surface energy (MSE), and low surface energy (LSE). With high surface energy ranging from 250-1103 dynes/cm, metals like copper, aluminum, zinc, and stainless steel are some of the most popular HSE substrates. The surface energy takes a big dip to 38-50 dynes/cm for MSE substrates such as polycarbonate, polyester, nylon, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and acrylic. Finally, materials with surface energy below 37 dynes/cm fall into the category of LSE. The widely employed LSE substrates include polyethylene, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), and polypropylene.

To fully comprehend the importance of surface energy in bonding substrates, let’s take a look into “wetting”. Wettability is the ability of an adhesive to spread on the surface, thereby increasing the contact area and creating a stronger bond. In most cases, when you pour some water on a HSE metal such as copper, the water will quickly spread across the surface and form puddles. On the other hand, when you pour water on ABS, it will form small beads, thus preventing the surface from wetting. Simply put, HSE substrates aid the wetting of the adhesive, while LSE substrates avert the wetting. The surface energy of the substrate dictates the strength of attraction and therefore remains as one of the most critical aspects in bonding.

There is a wide variety of PSA solutions available, each of them offering a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. For example - 3M offers approximately 25 different PSA solutions, with 100MP, 200MP, 300MP and the 300LSE being the most dominantly utilized adhesives. While the high-performance acrylic adhesive family such as the 100MP and 200MP, strongly adheres to most HSE substrates, the 200MP is frequently preferred for MSE substrates, and 300LSE is usually chosen for both MSE and LSE substrates. It is the interplay of several factors that ultimately dictate the selection of the adhesive, thus the optimal solution varies from one application to the other.

As a preferred converter of 3M, Laird Technologies, and Rogers Corporation, GMN has the capabilities to not only tailor the adhesive tapes to match your unique application, but also address any other bonding needs and challenges. To learn more about our die-cut solutions, visit our capabilities page here.

Debbie-Anderson-GMN
By Debbie Anderson Mar 20, 2018
Functional non-conductive inks at GMN

This blog is the second in our series on functional inks. In our previous blog (read here), we touched upon the various conductive inks used at GM Nameplate (GMN). In this blog, we will explore the different types and applications of non-conductive inks. Non-conductive inks, as the name indicates, do not conduct electricity, but are employed in vital functional products and decorative applications including sensors, membrane switches, graphic overlays, and labels. The non-conductive inks used at GMN include:

Dielectric inks: Dielectric inks are electrically insulating inks that work in tandem with conductive inks by protecting them. In a multi-layer construction of circuitry, dielectric inks prevent the various layers of conductive ink from interacting with each other. By creating insulating barriers, they avert electrical shorting and silver migration. Since most dielectric inks are ultra violet (UV) curable, they can be used on a broad spectrum of rigid and flexible substrates including bare or print-treated polyester, polycarbonate, and glass. They offer strong adhesion properties, superior flexibility, resistance to moisture and abrasion and are minimally affected by folds and bends. Dielectric inks are commonly used in membrane switches, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, antennas, and electrodes.

Graphic inks: As a custom manufacturer, GMN utilizes graphic inks in a wide range of its components and brand identity products such as nameplates, labels, decorative signs, decals, placards, elastomer keypads, and graphic overlays. The various types of graphic inks that GMN offers include solvent-based inks, water-based inks, UV curable inks, epoxy inks, and air-dry inks. The selection of the appropriate ink for any given application is dictated by a multitude of factors like surface energy and surface tension of the substrate, environmental conditions, and cost. GMN regularly employs screen printing, digital printing, lithographic printing, UV inkjet printing, and UV flexographic printing for the printing of graphic inks. With decades of experience, GMN can create an exact color match or provide a color that matches the Pantone matching system.

Specialty inks: While dielectric and graphic inks significantly dominate the realm of non-conductive inks at GMN, the use of specialty inks are gradually crawling up in the product development phase. The unique characteristics of specialty inks is finding new functional and decorative applications. The most common types of specialty inks seen today are:

a) Thermochromic inks: These are temperature-sensitive inks that change color when the ambient temperature increases beyond a pre-designated value. They come in many colors like shades of neon, blue, purple, etc. Common applications include labels, print advertising, fabrics, biomarkers and sensors.

b) Photochromic inks: These inks temporarily change color when exposed to UV light. Similar to thermochromic inks, these photochromic inks also come in several colors. They can be seen in light-sensitive eyewear solutions, body patches to detect exposure to sunlight, and clothing.

c) Hydrochromic inks: These inks change color when they interact with or get immersed in water. Typical applications include packaging solutions, decorative umbrellas, and clothing.

GMN relies on industry-leading ink compounders to formulate custom inks for its varied customers. Our long-standing relationships with the ink compounders enables GMN to mitigate price volatility and improve efficiency by reducing production lead times. It also allows GMN to meet diverse manufacturing needs and remain agile during the product development process. While each application calls for a specific ink and printing process, GMN works with each customer from beginning to end to determine the needs of the project and provide effective solutions.

Debbie-Anderson-GMN
By Debbie Anderson Mar 15, 2018
Functional printed electronics inks at GMN

Functional inks are a cost-effective method to manufacture printed and flexible circuits. While the traditional technologies of etched copper flex circuits and printed circuit boards (PCBs) are still prevalent, functional inks have the advantage of being an economical alternative when it comes to printing on flexible substrates and mass-scale production of circuits. In this two-part blog series, we will broadly touch upon the essentials of functional inks employed by GMN in its wide-ranging manufacturing services.

Depending on the ink type and final product application, functional inks can be applied on a wide gamut of both rigid and flexible substrates using various printing techniques including screen printing (sheet-fed and roll-fed), aerosol jet printing, and gravure printing. Functional inks are undeniably more environment-friendly than the traditional technologies. While the subtractive process of etching copper on PCBs requires acid baths, the additive process of using functional inks does not produce any waste streams or involve any hazardous chemicals. Functional inks can be classified into two categories: conductive inks and non-conductive inks. In this blog, we will broadly explore the various conductive inks used in GMN, their properties and applications.

Conductive inks, as the name suggests, are inks that conduct electricity. They are commonly seen in capacitive and membrane switches, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, touch screens, biomedical and electrochemical sensors, Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heaters, electromagnetic interference/radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI) shielding, and more. Recent developments in stretchable conductive inks are also leading the evolution of wearable electronics.

For any given application, the two C’s that primarily govern the conductive ink selection process are cost and conductivity. Some other key factors that govern decisions include substrate compatibility, the ink’s molecular structure, final product application, and power efficiency requirements. Some of the conductive inks employed by GMN include: 

a) Silver and silver chloride inks: Silver inks offer superior conductivity and low resistance. They are compatible with a broad range of substrates including polyester, polycarbonate, glass, and vinyl, and are resistant to abrasion, folds, and creases. Their high adhesion, high flexibility and ease of printability have made them the ideal choice in medical electrodes and membrane circuits.

b) Carbon-based inks: Carbon inks offer higher resistance, lower conductivity, and superior durability as compared to silver inks. They protect silver inks from silver migration, shield circuits from shorting and are cheaper than silver inks. They also offer similar benefits as silver inks in terms of adhesion properties, ease of printability, and substrate compatibility. Carbon inks are often blended with silver inks to achieve the desired balance between resistivity, conductivity, and cost. Typical applications at GMN include cost-effective capacitive touch switches.

c) Gold and platinum inks: Given the huge cost hurdles associated with noble metals like gold and platinum, these inks are usually produced and utilized in very small quantities. GMN occasionally employs them in the product development stage or in applications where performance benefits outweigh the cost barrier. For example, gold is used in applications where high resistance to oxidation is crucial and platinum is seen in applications that demand high conductivity.

d) Other metal-based inks: Copper inks can be used as a cheaper alternative to silver inks, given its high conductivity, but its low stability often poses limitations on its use. While nickel offers high durability, it is more expensive than carbon inks.

To learn about non-conductive functional inks, stay tuned for our next blog.