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By Neha Toshniwal | Dec 11, 2017
Debbie Anderson, print area manager at GMN

It is a proud moment for GM Nameplate (GMN) as Debbie Anderson, print area manager, gets appointed to the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) board of directors for the second consecutive year. SGIA, a non-profit trade association, supports the global printing community through its various initiatives, events and education programs. It also organizes the annual SGIA expo, which is the largest printing tradeshow in the world. This trade association not only helps small businesses to grow, but also creates awareness about the printing industry, promotes ideas and developments, and provides excellent networking opportunities. SGIA also regularly conducts workshops, webinars and conferences to educate the printing community. 

From 2014 to 2016, Debbie served as an active member on two of the eight committees at SGIA – the printed electronics committee and the industrial printing committee. The committees at SGIA are responsible for developing various programs and initiatives with the aim of boosting the printing community. Thanks to her valuable contribution, she was nominated by the executive committee, and then voted by the board of directors to join the board in 2017. Recently, the board unanimously voted to continue her term again in the upcoming year 2018. Thrilled with her second appointment to this challenging role, Debbie is looking to further advance the mission and strategy of SGIA.

“On behalf of myself and all at GMN, I need to pause and say thank you to the entire SGIA executive committee for the opportunity to serve on the board for a second year.” said Debbie. “In this exciting time of emerging printing technologies, I’m grateful to be surrounded by such a remarkable team and for the strong partnership we have built with SGIA.”

Debbie’s passion for printing goes back in time to when she started working at GMN in 1982. In her career spanning across four decades, Debbie has worked in various capacities in several areas including screen printing, technical printing, quality & compliance, and medical devices manufacturing. She currently oversees four printing departments at GMN: screen printing, litho-printing, technical printing and digital printing. 

GMN congratulates printing veteran, Debbie Anderson, on her second appointment to the SGIA board of directors. We are confident that the printing community will greatly benefit from her extensive knowledge, experience, and invaluable insights.

By Gerry Gallagher | Dec 5, 2017
GMN is an early adopter of robotic innovation in our industry

Custom manufacturing companies like GM Nameplate (GMN) face the challenge of producing high-quality parts, with short lead times at the tightest tolerances. There are many steps involved from receiving an order to delivering the required parts to the customer in a timely manner. A number of the tasks in the production phase are tedious, and by improving the efficiency of output with these tasks, we can ensure customers receive cost-effective and quick-turn solutions for their projects.

To increase the value we deliver to our customers, we work every day to deliver our services quickly and cost-effectively, while maintaining the same standard of high quality, tested parts. GMN continuously drives to eliminate unexpected results and cultivate seamless production. We have always had a high-caliber skilled labor force, however using this labor as effectively as possible is an ongoing goal we strive for. One way we have achieved this objective is through the use of robotics. Robots are becoming great partners in the manufacturing process by working side-by-side with our employees.

Most recently, GMN has started to employ multi-jointed robots that are registered using coordinates to operate with distinct movements that are precise and repeatable. These are most typically used for a compilation of several small tasks for a specific function. Once a robot is set up with its coordinates and materials, it can reiterate the task for a set number of times, with speed and accuracy. Thus allowing our employees to spend their time programming the robots and focusing on setting up more jobs. GMN has been using robots with loading and unloading laser cutters, clam shell die-cutting presses and other repetitive processes. This allows for a more interesting and rewarding role for the employee as well as more value to our customer.

Safety is our top priority for our employees at GMN, and these robots were made with employee’s safety in mind. They have “smart-technology” to sense if they bump into someone or something, so they do not need to be in a cage. For example, if a robot’s arm swings into an employee, the robot will stop at the point of contact. Robots without this technology will swing with force into objects (or people).

Robotic automation is being implemented more and more among manufacturing companies, and GMN is an early adopter of this innovation in our industry. This allows employees of GMN to focus on skilled tasks that robots can’t perform, so labor is better applied during production. Robotic automation is one of the many ways GMN brings value to customers, by improving efficiencies, reducing costs, and seeking continuous improvement.

To see our robots in action, watch the short video below. 

By Leanne Coffroth | Nov 30, 2017
ElectraGraphic nameplate made for Percussor

Erchonia approached GM Nameplate (GMN) to manufacture a lightweight, jewelry-quality nameplate for their latest therapeutic device named the Percussor. Every nameplate had to display a unique serial number, posing significant manufacturing challenges. However, GMN flexed its creative muscles to tailor a customized ElectraGraphic nameplate with laser-marked serial numbers. GMN’s diverse capabilities allowed all the stages of development under a single roof: screen printing, photo-imaging, decorative gold plating, die-cutting and laser-marking.

To learn more about how GMN brought these gold-plated nameplates to life, read our case study

By Neha Toshniwal | Nov 14, 2017
GMN exhibits at the BIOMEDevice 2017

GM Nameplate (GMN) is thrilled to exhibit at the BIOMEDevice San Jose show in booth #1138. The event will take place at the San Jose Convention Center, CA on December 6-7th, 2017.

GMN will be demonstrating the full spectrum of our capabilities ranging from printed electronics to capacitive switch technology, user interfaces to front panel integration. One of our core strengths lies in translating concepts into concrete creations. The samples on display will not only illustrate the versatility of GMN’s technical know-how, but also the supply chain value of vertical integration.

Our technical experts will be available on site to discuss GMN’s custom-manufacturing solutions from prototyping through final production. We are happy to discuss your upcoming projects or manufacturing needs and challenges. To schedule a meeting with a GMN technical expert, you can reach out to us directly at info@gmnameplate.com

Clark Mehan
By Clark Mehan | Nov 9, 2017
GMN is a converter partner for Laird Technologies.

Do you need to protect your electronic device from overheating or reduce unwanted EMI noise? Do you need a gap-filling material to enable an electronic connection? If so, GM Nameplate (GMN) has the capabilities and knowledge that will help.

GMN has a strategic partnership with Laird Technologies as a designated converter partner. Laird is an industry leader in providing performance materials for the electronics market. Their product lines include silicone pads, thermal pads, absorbers, and adhesive foams. These materials can be used to reduce heat, reduce static, and create electrical connections.

Thermal pads

Thermal pads are used to transfer heat from a hot surface, such as an integrated circuit (IC) device or LEDs, to a heat sink in order to remove or evacuate heat to prevent damage to parts. Laird designs these pads in a variety of thermal conductivities and softness grades to provide gap filling for many situations. Laird’s Tflex™ thermal pads offer a high degree of “wet out,” or exceptional conformability even to rough surfaces, as well as the ability to transfer heat quickly.

Laird’s Tflex™ products come in silicone or non-silicone pads. Silicone thermal pads are great for electronic applications such as computers, front panel displays, handheld electronics, automotive electronics, and more. Non-silicone pads are ideal for cameras and any product with a lens because they don’t outgas, which refers to the process where trapped gas is released when the pad is heated or placed under a vacuum.  Outgassing from silicone pads produces fogging on a lens, so non-silicone pads are a great alternative while still providing the same qualities as the silicone pads.

Conductive foams

Conductive adhesive foams are compressible foam tapes that are electrically conductive and provide excellent cushioning and recovery properties. These foams are great for gap-filling while maintaining electrical grounding for your product. Laird’s compressible conductive foams also have excellent EMI/RFI properties.

Not only do Laird’s EcoFoam™ conductive adhesive foams provide conductivity along an XY plane, they can provide conductivity though the thickness or depth of the foam (Z direction) as well.

Absorbers

Absorbers are used to reduce or eliminate high frequency or radio frequency noise in electronic systems. GMN offers a variety of Laird’s line of absorbers, NoiseSorb™, that work across all frequencies.

GMN is committed to providing solutions to resolve your product’s specific design challenges with our die-cutting capabilities and strategic partnerships with companies such as Laird. To learn more about die cut solutions and what they can offer your application, please visit our Die-cut components capability page.

Dean Karousos, GMN
By Dean Karousos | Oct 24, 2017
GMN created a metal nameplate for WFLIII Drums using diamond carving and embossing.

WFLIII Drums came to GM Nameplate (GMN) to develop an original nameplate intended to be the company keystone for their high-quality signature snare drum. Recently, WFLIII asked GMN to provide design modification considerations to help them redesign this nameplate.

The original design of the WFLIII nameplate utilized an ElectraGraphic process on stainless steel. With ElectraGraphic nameplates, even though the nameplate is flat, the letters and designs appear to be raised. But this time around, WFLIII wanted to create a truly embossed (raised) badge with a diamond carved finish.

WFLIII Drums decided to go with a black aluminum nameplate that would be embossed and diamond carved on the upper half of the badge. Diamond carving is when lines are brushed deeply into embossed metal to give it a textured look. The diamond carving for this nameplate was applied diagonally and had more than the typical spread in between each engraving.

The nameplate had a lot of detail on its lower half, which presented a challenge because fine details are hard to achieve through embossing and diamond carving. So GMN had to find a solution to make sure the fine details of the badge would stand out as well.

Therefore, GMN decided to “reverse out” the details on the lower half of the badge. This meant that the designs would be made by printing the black ink around the letters and drum image, making the details stand out with a metallic shine against the dark background.

WFLIII Drums worked closely with GMN’s sales representatives and the Monroe, NC Division to create this new and improved badge. GMN was able to provide a solution for WFLIII Drums to create a nameplate that met their specific needs. 

By Jason Herndon | Oct 20, 2017
The GMN advantage of PTC heaters

This blog is the last in our series on Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heaters. In the previous blogs, we answered all your crucial questions - the what, why and where of PTC heaters. Today, we will be illustrating how GM Nameplate (GMN) can help you overcome all of your heating challenges and tailor these heaters specific to your needs.

As a vertically integrated custom-manufacturer of flexible electronic circuits, GMN has vast experience in printing conductive inks. Our PTC competencies encapsulate everything from heater design solutions, reel-to-reel printing, application engineering, to final testing. But why should you put your trust in GMN?

Experience + expertise - GMN brings together 60 years of custom-manufacturing experience across a wide array of industries including medical, aerospace and automotive. More than just experience, GMN has the state-of the-art equipment and technology to tailor unique solutions for all of your heating needs.

Our PTC experts not only have decades of first-hand experience with printed electronics, but also hold several patents in the PTC technology field. Their core strength lies in the knowledge and understanding of HOW to integrate the PTC technology into your product. This extensive application engineering experience is what results in a better performing heater.

Robust quality system - As an ISO 9001-certified company, our strict processes and quality controls allow us to produce PTC heaters with more uniformity and tighter temperature tolerances than the ones available today. Thanks to our on-site thermal analysis capabilities and environmental testing equipment, the PTC heaters rolling out of GMN factories are stable and uniform.

Customized solutions - Our PTC heaters are customized to meet your specific requirements in terms of shapes, sizes and heating configurations. One of our core strengths is translating concepts into concrete solutions. The GMN team provides support throughout the development process to convert your designs from a napkin-sketch through final production. Our process engineers will help you determine the feasibility of specific design elements, identify appropriate materials and processes, achieve performance requirements and optimize the workflow. With our in-house roll-to-roll screen printing equipment, GMN is ideally suited for high-volume production of PTC heaters.

No matter what your PTC needs are, GMN has the solution. We are a one-stop-shop that delivers a seamless development process, thereby streamlining your operations and boosting efficiency. It is the perfect synergy between expertise, experience and engineering that sets GMN apart from the rest and delivers a more stable and uniform heater product.

If you need to discuss your PTC needs or challenges, click here to request a consultation with our technical experts. Learn more about these self-regulating heaters by reading our previous blogs here:

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

By Jason Herndon | Oct 13, 2017
What are the applications of PTC heaters?

This blog post is the third in our series on Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heaters. In the previous blogs, we discussed the fundamentals of PTC heating system (read here) and their benefits over traditional fixed-resistance heaters (read here).

Bearing the hallmark of safety, PTC heaters are self-regulating, energy-efficient heaters that provide uniform heating. They have survived the rigors of the automotive industry for decades now. By thriving in an industry marked by extreme environment and tough conditions, PTC heaters have proven their robustness and reliability. From car seats to surgical tables, outdoor clothing to stadium seating, they are well-suited for a wide range of applications across several industries such as:

Transportation (automotive + aerospace) - In the automotive industry, PTC heaters can be used to improve the heating within the vehicle with applications including seat heating, battery thermal management, LDW (Lane Departure Warning) camera and sensor de-icing, steering wheel heating, rear-view and side mirror heating. PTC technology offers ease of integration for in-flight applications, making it a great choice to warm anything in the cabin like the seats, walls, or the floor panels.

Healthcare - As we turn the lens to the healthcare industry, safety is of paramount importance. PTC heaters are ideal for under-body heating solutions such as human and veterinary surgical tables, veterinary and patient beds, gurneys, and even over-body blankets and drapes. They can be used in dentist chairs, clinic chairs and mobility vehicles. The inherent safety of PTC heaters makes them extremely effective in applications involving direct contact to skin (via the peel-and-stick method). They are also well suited for fluid warming applications, drug storage and shipment solutions.

Recreational and outdoor clothing - PTC heaters are perfect for ‘people-heating’. The ability to run ‘open loop’ (without electronic controls), and their light weight makes them ideal for outdoor recreational jackets, vests, gloves, mittens, socks, leg warmers, shoes, etc.

Food & beverages + restaurants - PTC heaters can be effectively employed in an industry governed by strict Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. From food and fluid warming to food storage and shipment, they can be used in various stages of food processing and distribution. In the restaurant industry, they can be used in plate and countertop food warming solutions, and food delivery bags.

Public spaces and stadiums - PTC heaters are more energy efficient than the alternative technologies available today. They operate flawlessly in extreme environments and adapt to the shifts in temperature. They are well suited for mass production and can be deployed in outdoor venues like stadiums, amphitheaters, urban transportation stations, park benches, etc.

Miscellaneous - PTC heaters offer great design flexibility in terms of shapes and sizes. They can be integrated in a wide array of products like commercial bedding, camping tents, sleeping bags, carpets, rugs, baby strollers, towel warmer/drying rack, pet clothing, hand-held devices, and more.

PTC heating technology’s advantages far exceed the traditional heating systems available in the market. It’s safe, it’s efficient and it’s effective. In the next blog, we will illustrate the GMN advantage when it comes to PTC heaters. Until then, you can learn more by visiting our capabilities page here

By Jason Herndon | Oct 4, 2017
Benefits of PTC heaters compared to traditional heaters

This blog is the second in our series on Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heaters. In the previous blog (read here), we learned about the fundamentals of this dynamic heating technology.

Meeting at the crossroads of safety and efficiency, PTC heaters provide more uniform heating than traditional heating technologies. Their inherent self-regulating nature results in fewer field problems and lowered warranty costs. Here are ten advantages of PTC heaters compared to traditional fixed-resistance heaters -

1) Improved safety - PTC heaters eliminate all the failure modes and pitfalls associated with resistive wire, etched foil and carbon fiber heaters. The PTC material acts as its own sensor, thus eliminating the risk of overheating.

2) Uniform heating - Every point on the PTC heating surface independently maintains its designed temperature. The even distribution of heat leaves behind no hot and cold spots.

3) Low power consumption - PTC heaters draw full power at colder temperatures to quickly reach the threshold temperature. Once they reach a steady state, they consume less power than traditional heaters, eventually saving more energy over the entire run time.

4) Better strength & durability - PTC heaters can endure mechanical abuse such as folding, creasing and piercing. They are also resistant to water, chemicals and corrosion, resulting in superior durability and prolonged life.

5) Design flexibility - PTC heaters can be produced in unlimited shapes and sizes, with custom holes and cutouts. They can be connected in parallel for large-area heating requirements. They can also be custom-designed to operate with multiple temperature zones and wattages.

6) Faster time-to-temperature - The optimum temperature is achieved in a very short period of time, especially at cold temperatures.

7) Fail-safe - Any failure will ‘fail to cold’, rendering them harmless. The failed portion will simply stop drawing more current, and the rest of the heater will continue to function safely.

8) No electronic controls - The heater self-regulates to its designed threshold temperature, thus wiping out the need for any diagnostic components or external control units.

9) Lightweight and thin - PTC heaters can be as thin as 0.005”, thereby taking up very little space. Their thin construction makes them lightweight and more flexible than silicone heaters.

10) Environment friendly - While the subtractive manufacturing of etched-foil heaters requires acid baths, the manufacturing process of PTC heaters does not produce or involve any hazardous chemicals.

In a nutshell, when it comes to safe and efficient heating solutions, PTC heaters will always emerge as the clear winner. Given the host of benefits they bring to the table, PTC heating systems are well suited for a wide range of applications across industries such as automotive, aerospace, and wearables. In the next blog post, we will dive into the applications of this heating technology. Until then, you can learn more by visiting our capabilities page here

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