By Chris Doyle Dec 20, 2017
Metal Decoration Guide

The use of metal components helps to add a sleek, stunning, and high-end aesthetic to any product. Metal nameplates, labels, and components have an influence on how your product is perceived and serve as a representation of your brand, which is why the design process for these components so crucial. Recently, GM Nameplate (GMN) hosted a webinar on decoration techniques that can be used to create a metal component that will stand out from the crowd. Following the webinar, we decided to compile the topics that were presented into a quick reference guide that you can use to aid you when designing your next metal component. This step-by-step resource will walk you through various eye-catching metal decoration techniques, from embossing and printing options to the latest industry trends, as well as provide you with essential tips and considerations to keep in mind throughout each stage of the development process.

To download this free reference guide, click here.

By Richard Smylie Dec 18, 2017
GMN10 scuff-resistant coatings

To maintain the beauty and functional integrity of your metal automotive trim ornamentation, including sill plates, liftgates, center stacks, steering wheel badges and/or door trim, it is essential to use coatings and/or screen printing inks having superior scuff resistance.

Currently, there are many scratch, mar, and scuff tests that are known throughout the industry and are employed by accredited testing laboratories. While these tests accurately gauge some real world environmental forces to which your ornamentation application will be subjected, they fall short of capturing the effects of one significant key real world destructive force: scuffing.

Therefore, to ensure that our customer’s products could maintain their beauty and functionality throughout their life cycle, GMN Automotive’s in-house chemists decided to formulate a proprietary anti-scuff family of custom coatings and inks identified as GMN10. Coatings and inks infused with GMN10 will withstand the real-world harmful scuffing forces that automotive trim components encounter regularly throughout their lifetime to preserve the original aesthetic and functional needs of the component for a prolonged period. GMN10 underwent a variety of qualitative and quantitative tests, such as subjecting GMN10 coatings/inks to testing protocols that use steel wool as the abrasive media at selected weights, in order to prove the superior scuff-resistant properties of this additive.

GMN Automotive’s new GMN10 scuff-resistant coatings are a significant improvement to our existing coating chemistry. Adding GMN10 to coatings and inks has no effect on the solvent resistance, stain resistance, or formability of your construction. This breakthrough coating technology can be applied to either aluminum or stainless steel constructions with low to high gloss without having any aesthetic effects, while maintaining its performance benefits in a wide variety of severe environments, from high heat to extreme cold. Our test results attained above using the above-mentioned steel wool test method showed that the average product will scuff when subjected to two to three double rubs of 000 steel wool pads when under a downward pressure of 3000 grams. Whereas coatings and inks with GMN’s new GMN10 additive could exceed 100 double rubs under the same conditions.

During our battery of tests, we were able to validate that the GMN10 meets the industry standard specifications for the following:

  • Has no detectable effect on accelerated xenon-arc exposure, which helps to predict the fading of color or gloss level over time.
  • Adhesion:

            - Humidity resistance (GM4465P) – a test where the sample is exposed to 100% relative humidity at 38°C (100.4°F) for 
               a specified time.

            - Impact cross-hatch tape pull (ASTM D-3281) – a one-pound ball or cone is dropped at a specified vertical distance to 
               an area that had been cut with a knife or crosshatch tool. The sample is tested with adhesive tape for any coating 

  • Scratch and mar:

            - Taber abrasion (ASTM D4060-1) – test samples are placed on a Taber rotating plate with a grit wheel of a specified 
               grade and are abraded for a number of cycle turns with a given weight applied on each grinding wheel. The samples 
               are graded by number of cycles for wear through point of the coating.

            - A new type of scratch and mar test using steel wool – this test uses 000 steel wool that is rubbed back and forth with 
               the weight of 3,000 grams applied. The end point is measured by the number of “double rubs” the sample could 
               sustain before the coating began to wear through.

  • Solvent resistance (GM 9509P) – this is usually tested by using a solvent that is specified by the paint supplier (commonly MEK). A soft solvent-saturated cloth is rubbed back and forth on the sample a number of times using the firm downward pressure of a gloved finger. The number of “double rubs” specified for a “pass” varies, but it typically ranges from 10 to 50 rubs.
  • Improved film properties including:

            - High durability in all environments of radiation and moisture
            - Increased resistance to abrasion, scratching, and marring
            - Improved adhesion and film flexibility
            - Better impact resistance  

GMN Automotive has been supplying decorative metal trim ornamentation to the automotive industry for decades, which provided GMN with the insights, knowledge, and experience necessary to develop our GMN10 chemistry. GMN10 prolongs the integrity of your coating or ink, enabling your trim applications to visually maintain a mar-free appearance for a significantly longer period of time, and in doings so it prolongs the ornament’s functional life span as well.

If you are interested in learning more about our new improved scuff resistant coatings, please contact us here.

Lauren Rowles, GMN
By Lauren Rowles Dec 12, 2017
Red Cross Real Heroes Breakfast

On Thursday, December 7th, the Red Cross held their annual Real Heroes Breakfast for the Snohomish, WA County chapter. At this event, several awards are given out to recognize the extraordinary actions taken by everyday people. These local heroes are people who have saved a life, done something to make the community a safer place, or gone above and beyond to help someone in need. This event was emceed by Mark Wright from King 5 News.

At GMN, we are so proud to support our amazing employees in their efforts to give back to the community. Since 2011, April O’Donahue, a GMN Aerospace senior new programs manager, has been volunteering her time as the official event photographer for this award ceremony.

There were many extraordinary people and programs recognized at this event. To mention a few, one award winner was a 7-year-old child named Annberly Sills. The mother had taught her some basic first aid practices using one of her dolls, which she later was able to use to save her not-yet 2-year-old little brother when he was choking. Another award was given to the Gibson family, who lost their son in a house fire in 2016, where no operational smoke detector was present in his room. In response, the Gibson family founded a non-profit known as Gibby Home Fire Prevention to try to reduce fire deaths and injuries. This program installs sealed smoke alarms equipped with 10-year lithium batteries in every bedroom of homes in need, for free. The Red Cross adopted this program on a national level, and so far, they have been able to install 10 million fire alarms nationwide, 4,000 in Washington state, and 1,500 in Snohomish County. (Read more about this story here:

To learn more about the inspiring people recognized at this event, visit

All the responders from the Red Cross are volunteers who donate their personal time to helping others in a broad range of situations. The Red Cross will take any time a person is willing to donate, and will work around their schedule. For the hours that a volunteer does commit to donating, they are on call to respond to any issue that may arise. Therefore, this meant that all the Red Cross volunteers in attendance at this event were still on call as well. This year, a call came in during the middle of the event, and a few volunteers put on their red vests and left the event to respond to the call. That is just another example of the wonderful things this organization and the people in it are doing to help those in need.

We would like to thank April for all the time she has donated and her continued support to this organization and the community!

Photos taken by April O’Donahue, a long-time Red Cross volunteer and GMN Aerospace senior new programs manager.
Photos taken by April O’Donahue, a long-time Red Cross volunteer and GMN Aerospace senior new programs manager.


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 05, 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

Clark Mehan
By Clark Mehan Nov 09, 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 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 Richard Smylie Oct 20, 2017
Armrest inserts by GMN Automotive

If you think it’s only the exterior of the car that matters, think again! More and more people are shifting their focus to the interior. After all, that’s where we spend our maximum time. Decorative accents and trims breathe a new visual identity into the vehicle, giving it a distinct personality.

Armrests are a crucial element on the door panel that add style and comfort to vehicles. Their ergonomic design reduces fatigue, making the ride extremely relaxed and comfortable. A metal insert known as a door spear (or armrest insert) lends shape, strength and support to the armrest. Meeting at the crossroads of aesthetics and functionality, door spears hold up against heavy utilization. They endure the shifts in temperature, face ultraviolet rays from the sun and battle any scratches, chemicals and moisture that come their way. They stay put no matter how hard you pull or slam the door. To top it all, door spears add a dash of elegance to the armrest. However, choosing the right type of door spear is never easy. You also need to weave in several factors like utility, style, material, decoration and cost.

Whether it’s a commercial van or a tiny hatchback car, the type and utility of the vehicle will significantly impact your armrest design and style. In commercial vans, armrests often act as handles, supporting the entire weight of the passengers. Superior strength thus becomes a vital prerequisite. On the other hand, in a personal car, boundaries start to blur between functionality and appearance. The armrest needs to be durable, but also blend in beautifully with the car’s refined interiors. The utility of the vehicle steers the style of the armrest, and in turn dictates the design of the door spear.

The trends in door spears have evolved over the years and expanded to embrace different materials. Depending on your style inclination, they can be custom-manufactured in varied materials like aluminum or stainless steel. Molded plastic, fabrics, leather, vinyl and metals are extensively seen. While plastic can be cost-effective, metal inserts can be extremely elegant. Decorations on door spears are visually impactful, thus enhancing the aesthetics of the car. Be it a brushed or woodgrain finish, embossing or etching, door spears can be dressed in several textures and finishes to complement the material and design.

As a vertically integrated manufacturer, GMN Automotive can build door spears that fit all forms and functional requirements. From classy to flashy, our engineering support team can help you incorporate a multitude of materials and decorating options. Door spears might be small, but the creative flexibility at GMN Automotive is truly vast. Our decorative capabilities include custom roll-coated bases and top coats, and screen, digital, off-set and pad printing.

The printing process at GMN Automotive is supported by color chemists and lab technicians who custom color-match all applications. They ensure that the ink’s chemistry allows it to be flexible to match the tooling profiles it will be subjected to, yet remain hard for scuff and scratch considerations. Depending on the material and construction, appropriate coatings are applied at the end for door spears to retain their appearance and performance over years. For example - in the case of a metallic door spear, urethane, epoxy, polyester or hybrid topcoats can be considered. In a nutshell, GMN Automotive closely controls all the phases of production including material selection, printing and decorating.

Every good design needs a robust support. Injection molded backing for door spears offer support, strength and durability in tough environmental conditions. It is also resistant to chemicals and corrosion. Injection molding is a process where plastic is heated, melted and injected into a cavity to conform to the intended shape, and is later cooled. Even for large scale production, it allows design flexibility that most processes cannot. You can create complex forms containing sharp edges, curves and bends at competitive prices. Our extensive plastic molding capabilities allows us to construct this sturdy backing and the door spear under the same roof.

GMN Automotive’s in-house competencies encapsulate everything from decorative metal inserts (form) to injection molding backing (function), resulting in visually striking door spears. With rapid prototyping capabilities, in-house tooling services and robust quality systems in place, GMN Automotive excels at value added assembly. This holistic route allows GMN Automotive to be a one-stop-shop for all your decorative door trim needs. To learn more about our decorative accents, click here.