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Marc Doan
By Marc Doan Jan 24, 2020
A photo of a Metalphoto nameplate

Are you in need of a highly durable and high-end looking nameplate? Then look no further than Metalphoto. This incredibly dependable and innovative material is gaining popularity in highly regulated industries such as defense, transportation, industrial and aerospace. 

What is Metalphoto? 

Metalphoto is a specific type of anodized aluminum used to make nameplates, labels, control panels, serial plates, placards and asset tags. Originally developed for the US Navy in the 1950's and specified by most major OEMs, it is one of the most durable identification materials available today. Our latest video demonstrates the step-by-step process in which Metalphoto components are fabricated. 

To begin the Metalphoto process, all that is needed is a digital art file. This art file is transferred via laser onto a pure 1100 alloy aluminum sheet, which can range in thickness between 0.003” to 0.125”. The sheet is then put through a processor that develops the artwork on the photosensitive aluminum. Although Metalphoto images and text are primarily black, additional colors can be screen-printed at this time.

The graphics are exposed and developed like a photograph inside of the anodized aluminum, which causes it to become a part of the nameplate. This unique production method provides the unparalleled durability that Metalphoto is known for. Finally, the parts are placed in a nickel sulfite tank to seal the sliver-based graphics underneath the sapphire-hard anodic layer. All graphics and text on a Metalphoto component are sealed inside of the anodic layer, making it ideal for any identification material where maintaining legibility is crucial. Metalphoto comes in four different finishes: matte, satin, gloss and a #4 brushed finish that resembles stainless steel.

The benefits of Metalphoto 

Metalphoto has several advantages over alternatives such as engraved or printed steel. It can sustain an outdoor life of 20+ years, can withstand temperatures in excess of 750°F and is specifically designed to be salt spray and chemical resistant. It is also is resistant to over 7,000 cycles of abrasion.

In addition, the graphics on Metalphoto are significantly higher in resolution than those on etched steel. The method of using a projected image makes any letters, numbers, symbols and pictures extremely legible and appear as crisp and clean as a photograph. Metalphoto is also less expensive than stainless steel in lower quantities, especially for variable data runs. Unlike steel nameplates, it does not require individual engraving, punching or laser marking for variability in images or information. Using the computerized imaging process also makes Metalphoto perfect for serialization, as it does not affect the process or price to customize each Metalphoto plate. 

GMN has been a certified converter of Metalphoto for over 40 years and has been provided Metalphoto solutions to several companies including Boeing, Starbucks, Inovus Solar, Lockheed Martin Corporation and more. To see the Metalphoto production process in action, watch our video below. 

By Steve Baker Jan 15, 2020
Image of Anaheim Convention Center

GM Nameplate (GMN) is thrilled to be exhibiting at Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) West once again! The show will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California from February 11th through February 13th. As the largest MedTech show in North America, MD&M West draws professionals from all across the nation and is an unrivaled opportunity for both networking and sharing new ideas and innovations.

GMN’s experts will be at the show to discuss our latest projects and developments in the medical field. Featuring our recent user-interface solutions along with several other medical sub-assemblies, you can expect to see everything from plastic injection molding and switch technologies to printed electrodes and display integration. Visit us in booth #1721 to learn how GMN’s state-of-the-art technologies and vertically-integrated capabilities can make your next product truly stand out.

We’d be happy to discuss your manufacturing needs and challenges. Come speak with our team of experts on site or schedule a personal consultation with a GMN representative by reaching out to us at info@gmnameplate.com.

Picture of Chris Doyle
By Chris Doyle Dec 23, 2019
GMN's 2020 calendar

Continuing the annual tradition of making a calendar for the new year, GMN’s 2020 calendar is unique in several ways. To get inspiration for the new calendar, the team at GMN’s Monroe, NC division first looked at metal decoration trend samples that they had prepared for customers. Combining the GMN logo and colors along with elements from these trending designs, we were able to create a truly modern and exciting calendar for 2020 that demonstrates some of GMN’s unique capabilities.

In order to have the logo pop and add motion to the calendar, the GMN logo was given a selective spin finish that radiates out from the center of the letters. To achieve this effect, the sheet of bright-finish aluminum was screen-printed with a resist layer, allowing the spin finish to be contained solely within the GMN logo. Both the logo and the 2020 were left without any printing, allowing the bright-finish aluminum to truly stand out.

After the spin finish, the calendar was screen printed with a bright white ink and yellow accent colors for the calendar months, as well as a glossy black ink for a visually contrasting background. To add dimension, “GM Nameplate” was then printed in a repeating pattern in matte ink on top of the black background, giving the calendar a subtle two-tone design. The way black ink traps and slightly overlaps the white ink provides a strong visual depth and gives the calendar an embossed look.

A collaborative effort between multiple divisions, the plastic stands that sit on the back were manufactured at GMN China and were applied to each calendar at GMN’s Monroe, NC plant.

GMN is proud to present the 2020 calendar and is excited for the year to come!

Happy holidays!

Duke-Brekhus
By Duke Brekhus Dec 18, 2019
Stryker Lifepad keypad

When Stryker created their Lifepak defibrillator, they knew how important it was for it to remain functional no matter the environment in which it was used. The device is used in hospitals, ambulances and everywhere in between where it might be subjected to tough conditions and repeated impact. With the original design consisting of an overlay directly over metal snap domes, little protection was offered to the domes themselves. Concerns were raised when they found that enough high-force impact could potentially invert these domes and possibly cause malfunctions.

While this didn’t cause any actual device failures, it was important to figure out a way to ensure that the potential issue wouldn’t ever lead to a malfunction in any of the defibrillators. Being used in such a critical industry, it was imperative that every button stayed functional for the life of the device. GMN’s experts revisited the original keypad design and began to devise ways to improve its durability.

Due to the way the keypad was designed to sit in the defibrillator, it had to retain the same dimensions and usability while still solving the potential dome inversion issue. The challenge became how to significantly improve high-impact resistance without altering any of the tactile feel, size or appearance of the keypad. Three different rounds of prototyping took place, each experimenting with different materials in various sizes and orientations below the keypad. The first round of prototypes worked on revisions to the original design, whereas the latter prototypes experimented with adding a layer of elastomer to aid with the energy dispersion from repeated impact.

GMN and Stryker eventually settled on a design where an elastomer layer and plastic frame rests between the printed circuit board assembly and the overlay. GMN had never combined elastomer with a plastic frame in this manner, but the new construction perfectly met the goal of improved impact resistance without affecting the feel of any of the buttons.

The new keypad construction was tested extensively to verify its functionality even in the toughest of circumstances. A one-pound weight was dropped multiple times from over 16” above the device on each of the buttons. While the old design might have struggled with the impact and failed, the new version held strong and worked consistently, even after dozens of repeated collisions.

The new design was not only incorporated in the current Lifepak defibrillator, but also found its way to other devices in the Stryker family. This unique keypad construction added a new design option to GMN’s toolbox for projects to come. This is yet another example of GMN’s ingenuity truly helping to optimize a product’s performance. To find out more about our design options or to discuss your manufacturing needs, set up a consultation with our experts.

Dave Klinkman
By Dave Klinkman Dec 04, 2019
Molded components in an aircraft

From luggage bin markers to seat row coupons, the interior of any aircraft comprises of several molded plastic parts. Primarily, there are three ways of printing graphics and texts on molded components namely screen printing, pad printing, and dye sublimation. However, each technique presents its own set of challenges and restrictions. For instance, screen and pad printing are not only time-consuming but also require a high set up cost. As you need different screens (or cliché plates) for even the smallest variation in artwork and color, the market for customization is highly prohibitive. On the other hand, dye sublimation makes it difficult to control color in the artwork and requires special equipment to process plastic. In addition to increased development costs, it doesn’t leave much room for customization either.

To overcome all the above limitations, GMN Aerospace has developed a proprietary technology that allows us to print on slightly contoured or curved surfaces. It also enables us to efficiently customize graphics without increasing tooling costs or processing time. The printed graphics in any aircraft are routinely subjected to harsh cleaning agents. The in-house technology utilizes Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) approved inks, thereby preventing the graphics from fading or scratching over time. Supporting the OEM qualification approval process, it also meets the flammability testing and requirements that ensure protection for compartment interiors. 

In a nutshell, the proprietary printing process provides our customers with the following benefits –

  • Ability to print on slightly contoured surfaces
  • Flexibility to customize graphics in a cost-effective manner
  • Accommodate low to high volume projects
  • Improve durability with abrasion and chemical resistant graphics

GMN Aerospace has always been in the vanguard of embracing new technologies and employing efficient processes. After years of research and development, GMN Aerospace has given flight to this proprietary technology to meet the sophisticated needs of the aerospace industry. By reducing lead time and controlling development costs, the in-house technology is a step ahead in providing more value to our customers.

While the process is currently reserved for decorating plastic molded components within the cabin, GMN Aerospace looks forward to taking this technology to the exterior of the aircraft in the days to come. Envisioning the process to print raised and embossed graphics in the future, the technical experts at GMN see it gaining popularity over the existing techniques such as screen printing and in-mold decoration.

To learn about GMN Aerospace’s custom injection molding capabilities, visit our website here.  

Chris Beason
By Chris Beason Nov 12, 2019
An image of the San Jose Convention Center

GM Nameplate (GMN) is excited to exhibit at the BIOMEDevice San Jose show in booth #1127. The event will take place at the San Jose Convention Center on December 4-5th, 2019.

GMN will be demonstrating its vertically-integrated capabilities ranging from capacitive switch technology to die-cut components, plastic injection molding to front panel integration. There will be a wide variety of samples on hand illustrating the many ways you can use these capabilities to enhance your products and truly make them stand out.

We’ll have technical experts on site to discuss custom manufacturing solutions from first prototyping through volume production. We’re happy to discuss your upcoming projects or manufacturing needs and challenges. To schedule a meeting with GMN technical expert, reach out to us directly at info@gmnameplate.com.

Chris Passanante, GMN
By Chris Passanante Nov 06, 2019
Plastic machining at GMN Plastics

While plastic injection molding remains the cornerstone of GMN Plastics, plastic machining is one of the many complementary capabilities offered to our customers. With a dedicated area and automated equipment for machining, GMN Plastics can machine parts up to 20”x40” in size. But how does plastic machining benefit our customers? Plastic machining is ideal for secondary machining of injection molded parts. For parts that need to be modified to create a unique part number or multiple from a host molded part, machining is a cost-effective solution to minimize the cost of the tool.

Some of the core advantages of plastic machining include –

  • Lowered cost – Depending on the order quantity, utilizing machining over a tool can result in significant cost savings. For instance, machining can eliminate the need for tooling in lower volume projects, thereby reducing non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs. 
  • Quality control – Machining provides with greater control over part quality and production process. By eliminating the need to sub-contract machining and performing it in in-house, machining has allowed GMN Plastics to reduce paperwork and handling charges.
  • Fine trimming and de-gating – Most plastic parts, especially from highly regulated industries such as medical and aerospace, require a smooth finish. Machining can be used to remove the gate from an injection molded part, making the surface smooth and gate-free.
  • Taping holes – Machining offers the ability for holes to be taped rather than using an unscrewing tool. While it’s not only cost-effective for lower volumes, it also allows for better control of threads and holes.

There are several factors to consider while deciding between tool and machining. While machining may eliminate the tooling cost, it increases the price per part. So, depending on the volume, tooling may be more affordable. But if you need to change an existing part, secondary machining may be the process of choice.

Currently, GMN Plastics serves customers in nearly every industry with its machining capabilities. To determine if this is a good fit for your next project, request a consultation with our plastic experts.

Chris Beason
By Chris Beason Oct 31, 2019
Group of GMN employees in costume

Continuing the annual Halloween tradition, the team at GM Nameplate has done it again! GMN employees dressed in a wide array of impressive individual and team costumes, really getting into the spirit of Halloween. There was a living art museum, many sharks from Shark Week, two separate worlds from the Mario video games and everything in between. Halloween at GMN is always a blast for everyone involved, and this year was no different! 


Group photo of GMN employees in costume

By Jim Badders Oct 28, 2019
Hand holding piece of display glass

When developing a new product, the cover for a display is just as critical as the display itself. The actual display component typically does not arrive with any kind of protection, leaving it susceptible to environmental factors and damage from continued use. Depending on product requirements, it is often necessary to add a glass cover to protect the display from impact or scratches while still maintaining optical quality. However, not all glass is created equal. The cost, strength, color options and available thicknesses can impact the decision on which cover glass to use.

Below, we’ll be going over a few of the most common kinds of cover materials:

  1. Soda-lime glass: Soda-lime glass, also known as soda-lime float glass, is the most frequently used type of glass in display modules. It is ideal for any application where cost is a concern, but impact resistance or specific coloration may not be. Due to the high iron content in soda-lime glass, it tends to have a subtle green hue. While this isn’t noticeable when printed on with dark colors, it can give any lighter color (such as white) an unwanted green tint. However, because it’s the least expensive and easiest to attain of all the glass options, it’s omnipresent in display applications.

  2. Low iron soda-lime glass: The same in terms of strength and slightly more expensive than conventional soda-lime float glass, low iron soda-lime glass is a more transparent glass that is almost tint-free. This glass is commonly used as a cover for any product that needs to have a lighter or pure white color around the display, since there’s no green hue to distort the coloring.

  3. Aluminosilicate glass: Aluminosilicate glass, commonly known as Corning Gorilla Glass™ or Dragontrail ™ glass by Asahi Glass Co., is a very thin, chemically strengthened glass. One of the strongest types of glass available, aluminosilicate glass has a higher impact resistance than other types of display glass. A few drawbacks to using this glass are that it tends to be much higher in cost to produce and more difficult to attain than other glass options and it is limited in maximum thickness to two millimeters. However, due to its strength and thin profile, it is a popular choice for smartphones and handheld consumer devices.

The table below compares the different types of cover glass:

A table comparing the types of cover glass*price varies with the thickness of glass

Whether your biggest concern is cost, thickness, color or any other combination of factors, GMN’s experts can help you find the perfect cover glass for your display. Find out more about our display integration capabilities or set up a consultation with our experts.

Jeff Lee
By Jeff Lee Oct 23, 2019
GMN joins the Heart Walk community

On October 12th, nearly 100 GMN employees and family members joined the Puget Sound Heart Walk community in support of fighting heart disease. The GMN team walked in honor of someone affected by heart disease or stroke, and to celebrate a healthy lifestyle.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and responsible for several disabilities. Envisioning a world free of cardiovascular diseases, the Heart and Stroke Walk is the American Heart Association’s (AHA) annual event for raising funds to save lives from heart disease and stroke.

The 2019 Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk featured a 5k untimed walk, 1k survivor walk, interactive health booths, and more! GMN has been actively participating and contributing to AHA’s mission since 2012. Like every year, the generous donations from the employees were matched by the Root family foundation, thereby doubling our impact. Funds raised for the AHA are used for research and education to help overcome cardiovascular disease, which claims more lives than cancer and car accidents combined. Funded research in the past has led to the development of pacemakers, artificial heart valves, bypass surgery, and blood pressure medication. Thanks to technological discoveries and education initiatives spearheaded by the AHA, phenomenal progress has been made in reducing a range of heart ailments.

Here’s a big shout out to the entire GMN team for heart-walking and fundraising for such a great cause. GMN is extremely proud to support AHA’s mission in raising awareness, inspiring action, and making a lasting impact on our lives.