Pam Hane
By Pam Hane May 26, 2020
A roll of 3M VHB LSE

Bonding together two substrates is a crucial part of designing a new product. However, some difficulties can arise with traditional bonding methods. For years, mechanical fasteners, liquid adhesives, and ultrasonic welding methods were frequently used to adhere substrates together. While all of these approaches have their merits, each of them can pose significant drawbacks as well.

Mechanical fasteners can damage brittle parts, add time to production, and make the final assembly bulky. Liquid adhesives remove bulk but require long drying times and generate unsightly bond lines. Ultrasonic welding requires specifically compatible substrates and a significant amount of expertise to do correctly.

As an alternative, 3M VHB (very high bond) has worked well for decades in many industries that require a permanent and flexible seal that is easy to apply. Because of its closed-cell construction, it keeps out contaminants, moisture, and light. However, depending on the substrates, some bonding processes weren’t ideal for use with standard VHB. Many low surface energy substrates, such as plastics and composites, required the labor-intensive use of a primer to prepare the surfaces before applying the VHB tape. This added cost, time, and potential safety hazards to the production process.

The 3M LSE (low surface energy) series gives GMN’s experts another option for bonding together these traditionally difficult surfaces. While VHB has been solving bonding challenges since the 1980s, VHB LSE offers a slew of new benefits. Like its standard VHB predecessor, it retains the durability, mouldability, and effectively defends against contaminant and moisture ingress. However, this new variation has a modified acrylic construction that eliminates the need to use any primer before application.

Eliminating the need for a primer on these traditionally difficult-to-bond substrates removes a laborious step from the production process. This markedly improves productivity and produces a higher yield of usable parts. In addition, removing primers from the manufacturing process eliminates potentially hazardous fumes and chemicals, helping to keep everyone in the supply chain safe.

As a Preferred Converter for 3M, GMN’s experts have access to a multitude of different adhesives and die-cut materials. To find out which die-cut solution is perfect for your next product, reach out to our experts.

Jeff Lee
By Jeff Lee May 19, 2020
Paul Michaels with the PNAA certificate

Continuing the annual tradition since 2016, GMN Aerospace has once again donated to the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) scholarship fund. As a custom manufacturer and an experienced aerospace supplier, we understand that strengthening and supporting the future of aerospace right here in the Pacific Northwest is crucial.

Each year, GMN Aerospace’s donation goes towards helping students studying aerospace design, maintenance, and engineering at accredited Pacific Northwest colleges and universities. The scholarship helps these students purchase books, tools, and other necessary supplies for their programs. In 2019, GMN’s donation was awarded in the form of a scholarship to Oleksiy Zagorulko, an aviation maintenance technician (AMT) student finishing up his third quarter of classes at Clover Park Technical College.

“To be honest, this is the first scholarship I have ever received, and I am very excited to use it correctly to impact the community around me and help others in need. This career will affect the world by allowing more and more people to improve their traveling experiences by bringing it to the next level and allowing them to travel safer. Thank you very much for giving me such an amazing opportunity to be awarded a scholarship this is a really big help for me.” writes Oleksiy in his letter to GMN Aerospace. He plans on graduating next summer, and we wish him the best for his future in the aerospace industry.

GMN is proud to support passionate students like Oleksiy Zagorulko as they complete their aerospace education and kickstart their careers in this exciting field.

Oleksiy Zagorulko in a plane

By Brad Root Apr 09, 2020
Man wearing a protective face shield

Throughout March of 2020, more and more cases of COVID-19 were tested and confirmed in the United States. As more patients were stricken, doctors, nurses, and other front-line responders struggled to find adequate PPE (personal protective equipment). Many responders were beginning to create their own makeshift masks, face shields, visors, and more. Knowing that GMN could pivot some resources and equipment to help produce PPE and alleviate the shortage, we began working on the new challenge.

Thinking about how we could best leverage our production capabilities to provide the most aid, we began to focus on creating high-quality, protective face shields. Having access to face shields would not only provide health care workers with an extra layer of protection, but also allow them to reuse their face masks, which were already in short supply.

On March 18th, 2020, GMN’s team created a rough drawing of a face shield design. A mere two days later, the design had gone from a rough sketch to a ready-to-use face shield prototype. Knowing that time was of the essence, the prototype was hand delivered that morning to Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, WA for feedback. Later that same day, GMN’s team returned to Swedish with multiple new designs based on the feedback they had received.

The most important attribute to get right was the form factor, making sure they were comfortable to wear over the course of the front-line responder’s grueling shifts. Various prototypes featuring different lengths of elastic, foam, and polyester were provided to nurses at the Swedish Medical Center to wear and test over that same weekend. After they had been extensively tested, a final design was decided on that immediately went into production.

As of today, tens of thousands of additional face shields are being manufactured throughout the Seattle, WA division, the Monroe, NC division, and at the China division for use by countless front-line responders.

As a custom manufacturer, GMN prides itself on being able to pivot to new projects and engineer new solutions. GMN is honored to be able to help support our community and help alleviate the current shortages of protective equipment.

By Gerry Gallagher Mar 16, 2020
GMN China employee resumes work after Coronavirus freeze

The COVID-19 outbreak prompted GMN China to extend the Lunar New Year holiday by more than ten days. Fortunately, the region is showing early signs of recovery as the number of cases is gradually slowing. In alignment with the guidelines from local health authorities and medical professionals, GMN China has resumed its operations and is on track towards meeting production commitments and deliveries.

However, we are sparing no efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of our employees. The entire building, including conference rooms, waiting areas, office cubicles, and canteen, are disinfected regularly. 

Preventive measures by GMN China to contain the spread of Coronavirus


GMN China is following the “trilogy” of safety before employees enter the factory that includes – 

  • Disinfecting hands in the guard room 
  • Employees receiving a disposable mask daily
  • Employees allowed entry into the building only if the body temperature is below 37.3º C
Safety precautions during times of Coronavirus


The following lunch room safety rules are implemented - 

  • The distance between employees waiting in line for a meal must not be less than 1 meter
  • One-way seating for employees during meals, with an interval of more than 1 meter from front to back and left to right
  • The use of reusable lunch boxes has been temporarily halted and disposable lunch boxes are distributed daily
  • Each dining table is wrapped with a piece of transparent plastic wrap that is frequently changed
  • After eating, employees must place their leftovers in a designated area for a unified treatment
  • No verbal communication is allowed during meals 
Lunch room safety protocols at GMN China


In addition to the above preventive measures, hand sanitizing stations are installed across the building. Our janitorial crew is placing extra effort on disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, elevators, etc. Meetings and training are conducted online, avoiding crowds and close contact.

The COVID-19 situation is extremely fluid, and we are adapting our safety protocols as the situation demands. We are committed to being responsive and hope to better protect our employees and community by controlling the spread of Coronavirus.

By Steve Baker Mar 13, 2020
An elastomer keypad with an active-web design

In a recent blog, we discussed how elastomer keypads offer unparalleled design flexibility to fit your product’s unique feel and specifications. Once you have decided on using an elastomer keypad, it is important to create an optimal customer experience by tailoring the exact feel of each button. Depending on the application, there are several design considerations to take into account.

Should it be difficult to press down to avoid accidental activation, or easy to press for a consumer application such as a television remote? Should the button make an audible snap sound when pressed? Regardless of which is desired, elastomer keypads can be customized to feel and behave a multitude of different ways by employing either an active web or a dead web design.

An elastomer button with an active web design has a small web at the base of the button that flexes when the button is pressed. The resistance of this flex gives a tactile response as the button is pushed down, informing the user of the switch actuation. A carbon or metallic puck is molded into the underside of the button, which completes the circuit when the button is pressed.

In contrast, a dead web design on an elastomer keypad is a button without any web at the base. Instead of the web providing the tactile feedback, a metal dome is inserted under the button itself. The metal dome provides the tactile response and an audible click sound when pressed.

One of the differences between the two designs is the cost of manufacturing. For an active web design, the tooling can be slightly more expensive since the resistance is governed by the web itself. This typically requires more trial and error to determine the thickness of the web, since the entire keypad is molded as one piece. It can be tricky to figure out exactly how much actuation force is needed to press the button to get it to the exact desired resistance. For a dead web button, the inserted metal dome dictates the resistance, and the metal domes typically have a very specific amount of actuating force needed to be pressed. Simply, the specific dome is selected based on how much force is desired.

Another important difference is the cleanability of both types. While both are sealed and work well in harsh environments, it can be easier to clean dead web keypads since the buttons usually do not protrude as much as with active web designs. In addition, they typically don’t come through a bezel, providing less space for unwanted material to get trapped. Due to the lack of bezel and the low profile of dead web designs, they generally are much easier to clean.

While there are differences between them, the decision on whether to use an active web or dead web design ultimately comes down to the desired user experience for the specific product. To learn more about all of the possibilities with elastomer, visit our elastomer page.

Chris Beason
By Chris Beason Mar 04, 2020
Street lamp in front of a blue sky

When a Washington-based contract manufacturer was working to improve a new, technologically-advanced streetlight, they discovered that the lamp assembly wasn’t equipped to work reliably in harsh environments. The existing O-ring gasket utilized for sealing the lamp cover did not provide adequate protection against liquid ingress. As a result, the electronic components within the lamp were susceptible to possible damage and malfunction. Having an awareness of GM Nameplate's material conversion capabilities due to an existing relationship, they reached out to GMN to find a more durable solution.

As the street lamp operates in extremely diverse locations, it was crucial to protect it from a myriad of environments including heavy rain, humidity, condensation, extreme temperatures, and strong ultraviolet rays. In addition, the O-ring that the customer had previously employed was inexpensive, so it was important to find an equally cost-effective sealing solution.

GMN’s quick-turn prototyping team promptly developed several prototypes to test different material thicknesses, densities, and widths to narrow in on the product’s specifications. Different adhesives were also tested to ensure confidence in the seal between the glass lamp and the assembly housing. After multiple rounds of evaluating prototypes, the team determined that a Rogers BISCO® HT-845 silicone closed-cell foam with an acrylic adhesive would be ideal for the project. HT-845 has the optimal combination of density, thickness, and compressibility for the assembly’s requirements. Designed for outdoor use, the closed-cell BISCO® foam in conjunction with the adhesive created a weatherproof seal that allowed the street lamp to withstand temperatures ranging between -55° to -200°F.

Once GMN identified the best foam material and width, the next step was to engineer the optimal length to ensure a secure seal and fit for the new street light. Ultimately, a die-cut 33” length of foam that wrapped around the base of the lamp made the final cut. It created a tight seal, protecting critical internal components from severe conditions. The custom-engineered solution developed by GMN met all of the project requirements without tipping the scales of the budget.

This is another example of GMN rising to design and manufacturing challenges while consistently delivering cost-effective solutions. As a Preferred Converter for 3M and Rogers, GMN can offer custom design, material, and adhesive solutions for almost any die-cut need. To find out more about how GMN’s die-cut capabilities can help solve your next design challenge, visit our webpage.

Picture of Chris Doyle
By Chris Doyle Feb 28, 2020
Display of ElectraGraphics 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 undoubtedly the answer.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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. As shown in the video, the sheet is then sequentially dipped in four different plating tanks – Wood’s nickel 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. To see the ElectraGraphics production process in action, watch our video below.

By Frances Ganz Feb 20, 2020
FLIR's injection molded housing and electroform logo

FLIR, a global leader in thermal imaging camera systems, had developed a line of fixed-mount thermal marine cameras with a protective metal housing.  However, their existing housing was not only heavy but also expensive and time-consuming to manufacture. Looking to re-design the metallic housing, FLIR approached GM Nameplate (GMN) for an alternative solution.  

As the housing remains an integral part of the thermal camera system, it would be repeatedly exposed to challenging surroundings including ultraviolet rays, seawater, and high winds. Keeping the severe outdoor conditions in mind, GMN proposed to replace the metal housing with a robust, industrial-grade plastic that can endure prolonged marine use and environmental damage. Additionally, plastic is not only cost-effective but also seven times lighter than metal and faster to fabricate. The housing was fabricated via injection molding at GMN’s Beaverton, OR division.    

FLIR’s original design also comprised of a chrome-plated logo attached to the metal housing with hooks. The hooks were attached to the metal via heat staking, a process of melting metal to create a bond. However, the seal formed via heat staking was not airtight, causing unwanted water to seep through the crevices and gradually oxidizing the metal hooks and housing. To resolve this sealing issue, GMN switched the original chrome-plated logo with a 3D electroform logo. This unique metal decoration technique deposited nickel and chrome directly on the desired form to create a high-quality, corrosion-resistant, three-dimensional logo. The distinct logo was brought to life at GMN’s Monroe, NC division and adhered to the plastic housing with a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Offering extremely high durability and visual appeal, the finished product flawlessly married plastic with metal.  

GMN brought together two of its core capabilities and manufacturing locations (metal decoration at Monroe, NC and plastic injection molding at Beaverton, OR) to effectively meet the needs of the program. Following the successful completion of this project, FLIR returned to GMN to develop both a smaller and larger housing for a similar camera line. 

To learn more about plastic decorating capabilities and value-added assemblies, visit our website here.

Pam Hane
By Pam Hane Feb 13, 2020
Roger's noise and vibration dampening solutions

In our previous blog Noise and vibration dampening (Part - I), we learned the fundamentals of acoustic management solutions. In this blog, we’ll be exploring some of the widely employed noise-blocking solutions by GM Nameplate (GMN) -

  • Roger’s PORON® urethane foams - PORON® urethane foams are open-celled materials with high dimensional stability and excellent viscoelasticity that hold up well under continued vibration. With a high resistance to stress, relaxation, and compression, urethane foams do not collapse under pressure and always return to 99% of their original dimension. Ensuring consistency and reliabil­ity in crucial applications, urethane foams are seen in var­ious constructions ranging from extra soft, very soft, soft, firm, to very firm. These durable foams are flame retardant, chemical resistant, and can sustain a broad range of tem­peratures from -40°C to 90°C. Equipped with excellent gap filling, sealing, and gasketing properties, these foams offer good absorption for medium to high impact.
  • Roger’s BISCO® silicones - BISCO® silicones, made of cellular, solid, or specialty silicone materials, offer similar benefits and features as the PORON® urethane foam. The chief differentiating factor remains BIS­CO® silicone’s high flame resistance and the ability to withstand high temperatures. The cellular silicones, available in varying thicknesses, provide high resistance to compression and high tensile strength. Solid sili­cones, made of a solid rubber-like material, are available in a range of durometers from 10-40 Shore A. The specialty silicones, bringing together a combination of cellular and solid silicones, are seen in durometers from 40-70 Shore A.
  • 3M’s vibration damping and slick surface tapes - With a soft aluminum backing, the vibration damping tapes from 3M mitigate resonant noise, vibration, and fatigue. Used for attaching irregular and uneven surfaces, the tapes can hold up to 50 pounds per square inch of strength. They are pressure-sensitive tapes with high visco­elasticity that reduces stress and dissipate noise across the surface. Similar to vibration damping tapes, very high bond (VHB) tapes from 3M also offer dampening properties due to their high viscoelasticity. Slick surface tapes from 3M utilize Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW-PE) and Polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) formulations to mitigate friction between the two contact surfaces.

As a Preferred Converter of 3M and Roger’s Corporation, GMN can offer custom-engineered solutions to your specific design needs. To learn more about our die-cutting capabilities, download our free guide here.

Pam Hane
By Pam Hane Feb 10, 2020
Acoustic management solutions

Buzz, squeak, and rattle (BSR), a term frequently used by automotive engineers, refers to the incessant noise or unwanted squeaky sound that you hear in your car at times. While BSR remains one of the most common, yet challenging problems of the automotive industry, it is also of paramount importance in other industries including electronics, aerospace, and appliances. BSR can be caused by any moving components or the improper bonding and attachment of two parts. Whether it’s a cooling fan, medical pump, or washing machine, moving components within a device often causes friction, damaging the parts over their lifetime. In addition, devices, especially hand-held and portable ones, are prone to severe impact by a sudden hit or drop on the floor. Minimizing noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) is critical to the optimal performance and longevity of any device.

In the past, the issue of NVH was addressed by inserting a piece of neoprene or rubber between two com­ponents, held together by a screw, nut, or bolt. While this solution helps to reduce vibration, the mechanical fasteners create a rigid bond that is susceptible to cracking or breaking on impact. In recent times, engineers often try to attack the problem of vibration at the source, which is commonly known as vibration isolation. However, in cases where isolation is not possible, the issue is resolved by introducing noise and vibration dampeners. The dampeners essentially absorb the noise and dissipate it over the surface, thus mitigating fatigue, stress, and vibration.

Finding the right noise-blocking solutions can not only improve device quality, but also enhance the end-user experience. Fortunately, companies such as 3M and Rogers Corporation have opened doors to multiple acoustic management solutions in the form of acoustic foams, tapes, and adhesives. In addition to replac­ing mechanical fasteners, these solutions exhibit high resiliency and shock absorption characteristics. This cost-effective approach to acoustic damping offers the following advantages:

  • Minimize noise, vibration, and harshness
  • Reduce buzz, squeak, and rattle
  • Exhibit high viscoelasticity, resiliency, and dimensional stability
  • Allow for quick and easy application
  • Improve the durability and performance of the device

While each application requires a customized solution, there are certain product families from 3M and Rog­ers Corporation that are predominantly utilized by GM Nameplate to resolve noise and vibration de­sign challenges. To learn more about these solutions, stay tuned for our next blog.