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.  

Paul Michaels
By Paul Michaels Oct 17, 2019
GMN supports the PNAA scholarship program

This morning, GMN had the pleasure of hosting Brian Canfield, CEO of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA), at our Seattle, WA Division. During the meeting, Brian Canfield recognized GMN’s continued support and contribution to the PNAA’s scholarship program.

PNAA is a non-profit organization aimed towards promoting and strengthening the Pacific Northwest aerospace community. Committed to workforce development, PNAA’s scholarship program gives wings to eligible students in pursuing their careers in the aerospace industry. Sharing the same vision with PNAA, GMN has been a donor to the scholarship fund since 2016. Every year, GMN donates in memory of our long-time employee, Brent Sletmoe, who worked on the GMN Aerospace team for several years.

In a closely-knit industry such as the aerospace, GMN realizes the importance of supporting the next generation and helping build the future workforce. GMN’s donation in 2019 has helped qualified students from accredited universities in paying for books, supplies, tuition, and other college expenses. The students are currently pursuing varied careers within the aerospace industry including supply chain management, air traffic control, engineering, and design. 

GMN is truly honored to support PNAA’s vision of a brighter future and looks forward to a fruitful partnership in the years to come.

Rudy Vital, GMN
By Rudy Vital Oct 14, 2019
A photo of an elastomer keypad

On any user interface, the keypad is often the first element that a user interacts with. Great user experience is paramount to a great product and it all starts with customizing your keypad so that it looks, feels and behaves the right way. When it comes to customization, almost no other keypad can provide as many options as elastomer keypads. Made from a flexible polymer, elastomer keypads are a reliable and durable choice for a wide range of industries and applications.

The tactile response, appearance, and construction of the keypad can be effectively tailored to fit your exact product specifications. Elastomer keypads offer the following benefits:

  1. Tactile feedback: Tactile feedback is one of the most important considerations for any switch construction. With elastomer keypads, the actuation force required to press a key can be tailored between 100g to 300g of force. The keys can also be configured to make an audible snap sound via an inserted metal dome to provide instant feedback to the user. In addition, each key can be assigned to varying levels of hardness or resistance to indentation.

  2. Look: The visual appearance is yet another crucial element for any keypad. While elastomer arrives as an off-white color, there is a wide array of color options available to choose from during the molding process. Colored text, symbols, or iconography can be printed via pad or screen printing. There are a variety of finishes available, such as a silicone or polyurethane coating, to help alter the feel and protect the printed graphics from wearing off after repeated use or from cleaning solutions.

  3. Selective backlighting: Elastomer keypads can be backlit over the entire surface or specific areas can be laser etched to allow for selective backlighting. To backlight an entire button on an elastomer keypad, the base of the button can be molded with translucent material, allowing a direct LED underneath the button to give the whole button a glow. Alternatively, elastomer buttons can be painted to be completely opaque, where the iconography can then be laser etched into the paint. When an LED shines under the button, only the laser etched area of the icon will allow light through, illuminating just the iconography.

  4. Cost-effective tooling and construction: While plastic keys and buttons are often injection molded, elastomer keypads are compression molded since the keys and the mat are one single piece. As a result, the tooling for rubber keypads costs significantly less when compared to other popular switch options. Elastomer keypads also tend to be much simpler to tool and to assemble due to the one-piece construction, leading to quicker prototyping and faster lead times.

  5. Durability: Elastomer keypads are completely sealed and offer unparalleled cleanability. They are ideal for any application where they might be subjected to liquids, chemicals, or unwanted moisture. They can endure temperatures ranging from -30° C to 80° C.

Ultimately, elastomer keypads are one of the most customizable types of switch design, offering a host of different options to make sure it fits your unique product perfectly. To learn more about your possibilities with elastomer, check out our elastomer page or schedule a consultation with our experts.

By Sau Mei Chia Sep 30, 2019
Man working in manufacturing facility

GM Nameplate (GMN) is strongly committed to improving its work environment and protecting the health and safety of all associates. Taking a step further towards that goal, GMN’s Singapore division recently received the ISO 45001:2018 certification.

What is ISO 45001:2018?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a universally recognized standard-setting board adopted by over 160 countries. ISO 45001:2018 is an ISO certification that involves putting in place a thorough occupational health and safety management system for the entire division. It is a framework that systematically reduces workplace accidents and injuries by ensuring every employee is trained and actively involved in mitigating and abating workplace risks. ISO 45001:2018 is valid for three years and requires annual audits to verify the standards are being followed.

What is new about ISO 45001:2018?

ISO 45001:2018 replaces the previous Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001. The new standard involves more managerial involvement and a greater focus on evaluating and proactively addressing any possible health or safety risks in the workplace. The new standard also emphasizes employee participation and providing employees with extensive training to help identify and mitigate any workplace risks.

GMN’s commitment to safety

GMN Singapore’s division held several comprehensive consulting sessions on the new safety standard to ensure all employees, as well as management, are well acquainted with the requirements. Striving for continuous improvement, the internal auditing teams also ensure adherence to the strict guidelines established in the standard. The new ISO 45001:2018 certification is just another example of how GMN not only meets the rigorous Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) standards, but also relentlessly strives to create a better and safer work place.

To learn more about quality systems and compliance at GMN, visit our website here. 

By Jim Badders Sep 16, 2019
Finger touching enhanced display module

When it comes to deciding on the specific display to use with your product, it is important to realize that no one size fits all. Whether you’re designing a user interface for the automotive, medical, appliance or any other industry, GM Nameplate (GMN) has several different ways to enhance display modules to suit your unique needs. While display enhancements usually bring to mind a myriad of visual upgrades, these enhancements are also often used to improve the functionality of the device.

Some of the most common types of display module enhancement include:

  1. AF or AS coating: Anti-fingerprint (AF) coating and anti-smudge (AS) coating are two of the most common front surface display enhancements utilized today. They help protect the surface from situations where visibility may be hindered with repeated use. Applied via a spray coating, these enhancements are popular in industries where the front surface may be subject to smudging or be repeatedly interacted with and operated by the user.
  2. AR or AG coating: Anti-reflective (AR) coating and anti-glare (AG) coating are both frequently used in industries where visibility is critical. Both can be applied to the front surface of the display module to allow for better visibility in direct sunlight or any other harsh lighting conditions. The coatings boost the apparent luminance and contrast of a display by mitigating the loss of light via reflection or glare.
  3. Decorative cover lens or glass: The front surface of a display module is the first thing a user sees, which makes it an ideal place to have information about the function of the device. Decorating the cover lens or glass is essentially the process of printing colored graphics, logos or other information about the product directly onto the rear surface of the lens or glass. It can not only help highlight parts of the display, but also enhance the look of the module and make for a better user interface by providing helpful information. This can be employed in a wide range of applications as it can add style and function to any device.
  4. Enhancing the backlight assembly: Inside of many display modules, there is a small strip of LEDs that surround the LCD to illuminate the display. These LEDs are typically housed in a thin metal railing called a light rail and can be enhanced in various ways. The LEDs can be replaced by brighter or dimer LEDs depending on the visibility requirements. Alternatively, a dual-mode light rail can be employed, where different forms of lighting, such as night vision, can be implemented by alternating the different kinds of LEDs along the light rail. This kind of enhancement is especially important in the military or other outdoor environments where readability is crucial regardless of the ambient lighting.
  5. Tempering cover glass: Tempering glass is a popular enhancement to add strength to the cover glass. It can be done chemically or via heat, which can allow the display structure to withstand more force and improve impact resistance. There are also other kinds of material with varying levels of strength that can be used for covering displays, such as Gorilla Glass or PMMA (acrylic). Even bonding the display glass through an optical bonding process can significantly improve impact resistance. This display enhancement technique is particularly useful for devices that may be exposed to a rugged environment or repeated impact.

The different display enhancements can often be mixed and matched depending on the product and performance requirements. Not sure about the best way to enhance your display module, or curious about all the different options that GMN offers? Request a consultation with our experts today to find the perfect solution for you.

By Richard Smylie Sep 12, 2019
Ford steering wheel badge

Ford Motor Company, a leader in the automotive industry, was remodeling its 2020 Ford Explorer SUV and one of the main decorative accents they were looking to refresh was their Class-A steering wheel badge. Since the Explorer is one of Ford’s flagship vehicles, Ford wanted the badge to be built to world-class standards, capturing both the visual craftsmanship and performance functionality of the design intent. Ford chose GMN Automotive (GMN) for its industry-leading craftsmanship, design execution, and functionality of the coatings.

Our latest video illustrates the many steps involved in the manufacturing of the steering wheel badge. The process begins with a coil of aluminum being cut into 24”x 20” sheets. The sheets are washed in an alkaline bath and dried to ensure that they are clean, thereby preventing any issues in the subsequent production steps. Next, the sheets are fed into a roll coater that deposits a primer coating. It not only promotes better ink adhesion but also helps protect the finished badge from any environmental challenges it will face on the steering wheel. The sheets are then baked in a flatbed oven to partially cure the basecoat. The aluminum sheets are sent from the oven to the screen printer, where the iconic Ford blue color is deposited onto them along with a corresponding small bullseye registration mark that is utilized during embossing and blanking at a later stage. 

As seen in the video, the sheets are sent back to the roll coater where a topcoat is applied. This shields the primer coating and ink below, resulting in enhanced durability and depth of field for the logo. The fully decorated sheets are laminated with a protective film to minimize handling and tool-related issues. After lamination, the sheets are moved to fabrication where an optical registration system aligns with the printed bullseye mark to accurately emboss the Ford logo. The logo and the encircling racetrack are raised by .003”.

Next, the decorated and embossed sheets are blanked and formed to size and shape in a progressive tool. The machine utilizes the same registration mark employed in the embossing process to ensure extreme precision and uniformity. In the end, the badges undergo a rigorous visual inspection to guarantee that they are free of non-conformities before they are securely packaged and shipped out.  

To see the entire production process of the Ford steering wheel badge from start to finish, watch our video below. 

Marc Doan
By Marc Doan Sep 04, 2019
Digital press in GMN's Seattle division

With lead times getting shorter and customer demands constantly evolving, it is more important than ever to improve efficiency and remain agile. Keeping on pace with the latest technology, GM Nameplate's (GMN) Seattle, WA division recently installed a new, state-of-the-art digital printing press. Born out of the strategic collaboration between Ricoh Company, Ltd. (Ricoh) and Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg), this technologically-advanced press allows GMN to undertake projects that weren't possible on other printers.  

Printing up to 90 sheets per minute, the digital press scores high on efficiency, consistency, and repeatability. It can print on several substrates such as paper, vinyl, polyester, and polycarbonate, up to 13"x19" in size. Unlike the previous digital printers at GMN, the new press doesn't require any stock preparation or special coatings on substrates, thereby making it seamless to switch between different projects. Using a four-color process, it produces extremely crisp, high-resolution images. In addition, it is also equipped with the Heidelberg color-matching system, which allows the press to read and precisely match any color. It also has an internal system to ensure the color stays consistent even over the largest print runs.

With other popular printing techniques, the printing process can be quite cumbersome. For instance, lithographic printing requires creating the artwork on a photographic plate, storing the plate, and curing each color in the image individually. Similarly, screen printing requires preparing separate screen meshes for every color in the design, manually mixing inks, and printing one color at a time. However, with this new digital press, all you need is a digital art file. As a result, it not only eliminates all the time-consuming practices associated with other print methods but also produces significantly less waste.

Much of the non-metal work that was previously accomplished with screen printing or offset printing has migrated to the new digital press. Ideal for quick-turn prototyping and high-volume projects, the press is primarily used for markers, graphic overlays and labels. The press can also print variable or serialized data.

By embracing cutting-edge technologies and equipment, GMN aims at meeting the most nuanced needs of its diverse customers. The addition of the new digital press has truly enabled GMN to provide the highest quality solutions to a wide variety of industries.