Blogs

By Steve Baker Jul 21, 2021
Anaheim Convention Center

GMN is thrilled to be returning to Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) West once again! As the largest MedTech tradeshow in North America, MD&M West draws professionals from all across the country for an unparalleled opportunity for both networking and sharing new ideas and developments.

From August 10th through 12th in Anaheim, California, GMN will be exhibiting in booth #2129 at the Anaheim Convention Center. GMN’s experts will be at the show to discuss and demonstrate our latest projects and developments in the medical field. As a custom manufacturer of medical device components and sub-assemblies, GMN will be featuring its most recent user-interface solutions and varied capabilities including plastic injection molding, capacitive touch sensors, die-cut components, printed electrodes, and more! Visit our booth to see how GMN’s state-of-the-art technologies and vertically-integrated capabilities can take your next project from concept to production.

Our team of experts will be on site to discuss your manufacturing needs and challenges. Come visit us at the show, or schedule a personal consultation with a GMN representative by reaching out to us at info@gmnameplate.com.

By Jim Badders Jul 15, 2021
Hand holding piece of display cover 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.

Common types of cover glass materials

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Comparing different types of cover glass

The table below compares the above three 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.

By Jim Badders Jul 13, 2021
Display module enhancement solutions

When it comes to selecting a specific display to use with your product, it is important to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you’re designing a user interface for the automotive, medical, appliance, or any other industry, GM Nameplate (GMN) has several different ways of enhancing 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.

Display enhancement and protection solutions 

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 and interacts with, making 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 product information directly onto the rear surface of the lens or glass. It can not only highlight selective parts of the display, but also enhance the look of the module and improve user experience 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 most display modules 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 particularly suited for 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, allowing 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 suited for devices that may be exposed to a rugged environment or repeated impact.

The different display enhancements and protection solutions are often be mixed and matched depending on the product and performance requirements. Learn more about a few of the different display module enhancements offered by GMN in our video below.

By Richard Smylie Jun 29, 2021
Epoxy/ Urethane domed nameplate

Versatile and durable, Magni-lens doming is a water-clear urethane enhancement that creates a self-healing dome on a substrate. Standing tall at 0.06” (1.5mm), a unique feature of Magni-lens doming is that it functions as both - a visual and performance enhancement. Visually, it adds richness and a depth of field to the graphics below, and from a performance standpoint, it can withstand the most extreme environments.

Magni-lens (urethane) doming process

To begin the doming process, the individual components are staged on sheets so that they register precisely with the doming machine’s dispensing nozzles. As seen in the video, the dome is created with a nozzle or a hose that meters out a clear urethane coating. As the nozzle glides over the part, it dispenses the urethane polymer across the entire surface. The parts are always placed at a well-maintained distance from each other to avoid ruining the neighboring part in case of an overspill. While the featured Excel dryer part in the video has seven nozzles operating at once, different projects require different settings. Multiple nozzles correspond to the number of components that are getting domed at a given time.

After the urethane is dispensed, the parts are inspected to ensure that the resin has traveled all the way up to the edges of each part. The viscus resin gradually “wets out” the entire surface, and the parts are placed on leveling pads to air dry. Although the coating starts to harden with the “skinning of the urethane surface” in about four hours, it technically takes about a week for the part to be completely cured. Selective doming can also be achieved by using a dam to contain the resin to a specific area. The entire process of Magni-lens doming is performed in a semi-clean room to mitigate dust and foreign particles from entering the water-clear dome.

The size of the part determines the amount of resin dispensed. Since parts come in varying sizes, each of them requires differing amounts of coating. For every project, the machine is uniquely programmed where it measures the length of the part to determine the space necessary between each component in the set-up stage. Other elements such as pour speed and the length to which the nozzle travels vertically above the parts are also customized.  

Benefits of Magni-lens (urethane) doming

The Magni-lens dome construction is extremely robust, chemical and moisture resistant, easy to clean, and doesn’t deform under high heat or fluctuating temperature. It is compatible with a wide range of substrates such as polycarbonate, polyester, vinyl, aluminum, and stainless steel. Its versatility, functionality, and compatibility to adhere to different substrates make it an ideal choice for indoor and outdoor applications.

Explanatory video: Magni-lens (urethane) doming technology

Bringing you a step closer to the Magni-lens technology, the video below provides a glimpse into the process of creating the urethane dome and the broad spectrum of industries that have embraced Magni-lens doming. It will also give you a glance into some of the nameplates created by GMN over the past few decades. To see the doming process in action, watch our video below.

By Steve Baker Jun 24, 2021
High-volume screen printing equipment

In this second blog of our series on high-volume technical printing, we will be discussing the various screen-printing equipment options GMN for technical printing. We will examine the different attributes of each type of printing press and assess how they can influence your projects. If you missed our first blog in this series, we encourage you to take a moment to read it here to gain a preliminary understanding of GMN’s technical printing methods and their implications on high-volume programs. 

As previously mentioned, the two main screen-printing processes used by GMN for technical printing programs – sheet-fed and roll-to-roll. As we’ve already established, sheet-fed printing is better suited for design development and roll-to-roll printing is ideal for high-volume projects. The reasons will become more clearer as we go through the characteristics of GMN’s printing equipment.

Before getting into the specifics, an important concept to understand about all the presses is that the run rate is set by the dryer capacity. The attributes of the dryer as well as the project influence the run rate that can be realized. For example, functional inks often require longer to cure. Therefore, if a technical printing program utilizing functional inks is run on a press with limited drying capacity, it will need to go through the dryer at a slower speed to cure completely. However, if the same project were to run on a press with a large drying capacity, it would run at a faster speed since it would be in the dryer for longer. For every new project, the drying parameters must be developed according to that project’s specifications, which ultimately determine speed.  

Sheet-fed screen printing presses

As with all screen-printing equipment, the distinct capabilities and constraints offered by each of GMN’s sheet-fed printing presses determine the viability of the equipment for a potential project. Sheet-fed presses yield varying print area dimensions, for example, from 22” x 30” to 48” x 98”. Another critical feature to be aware of is the run rate for these presses, which on average can range from 160 – 225 impressions per hour. Finally, the dryers that accompany the sheet-fed printing presses at GMN include thermal UV dryers.

Roll-to-roll screen printing presses

For roll-to-roll printing, GMN employs the following presses to fulfill an assortment of technical printing project requirements.

1. Via printing 

The most noteworthy feature about two of the screen printing presses utilized by GMN for roll-to-roll technical printing is the presses' ability to print vias (also known as through-hole printing). When printing vias, once the vias are lasered into the material, ink is printed on both sides of the roll, forcing the ink through the vias to create a circuit. But the pushing of the ink through the holes leaves excess ink behind on the print bed. If a sheet-fed method were to be utilized, the operator would have to clean the print bed after every pass, adding additional steps and time to the process. However, GMN’s presses eliminate the need for this added step because they have blotter paper positioned on top of the print bed to absorb all the leftover ink. This blotter paper advances along with the roll of material to ensure that the ink does not smear as the sheet moves forward. In general, these presses print one color at a time, maintain a print area of 20” x 20”, and can accomplish tolerances around .007”. Using UV and thermal dryers approximately four meters in length, the run rate for these presses is about 500-800 impressions per hour.

2. Tight tolerance printing 

Another roll-to-roll printing press at GMN also only prints a single color at a time, yet it has a print area of 20” x 24”. The main advantage of this press is printing parts with extremely tight tolerances. This press can reach tolerances within .001” – .002” of the original specifications. With a 12-foot tunnel dryer, our tight-tolerance printing press offers a run rate of around 150-200 impressions per hour.

3. Efficient run rates and multi-color printing 

The last press at GMN’s disposal offers a print area of 18” x 19.5” and meets tolerances within .007” – .010”. Its most significant benefits include its two print stations and substantial drying capacity, which allows it to produce parts at a much higher speed. With a 40-foot and 60-foot tower dryer, this press employs dryers that are much larger than our other presses. The tower dryers allow for each part to stay in the dryer longer, permitting the part to run through the process at a faster rate. The other advantage of this press is that it’s a two-color press. The printing process begins by laying down the first color, followed by the punching of a fiducial next to the image for registration and the sheet running through the first tower dryer. Next, utilizing the registration punch to align with the first ink layer, a second color can be laid down, ending with the sheet going through the second tower dryer. These two capabilities are what make our final roll-to-roll technical printing press the fastest print line at GMN with a run rate of 800 – 1,000 impressions per hour.

When comparing the characteristics of the sheet-fed presses to the roll-to-roll presses, it is apparent why roll-to-roll printing is more suited for high-volume technical printing projects. Not only can these presses achieve much higher run rates, but they can also produce parts at much tighter tolerances and accomplish efficient through-hole printing. 

With our selection of in-house technical printing equipment, GMN aims to provide our customers with the printing technology that best fits their specific needs. GMN is equipped to accommodate a vast array of technical printing project requirements with volumes ranging from low to high. To learn more about our technical printing capabilities, visit our website here

By Steve Baker Jun 22, 2021
Screen printed electrodes and biosensor

Technical printing is an overarching term for functional printing projects that require product specifications above and beyond the industry standard. Often seen in highly regulated industries, technically printed parts call for exceptionally tight tolerances. To gain a deeper understanding, you can read our technical printing blog series here.

When it comes to high-volume technical printing programs, one of the critical decisions you will need to make is the type of printing process to utilize for design development and full-scale production. Technically printed parts can be achieved using different printing technologies, such as gravure, lithographic, cylinder screen, or screen printing. However, at GMN, we have specifically chosen to work with standard screen printing as our primary process.

In this two-part blog series, we will be reviewing the two screen-printing processes and equipment utilized at GMN and how they fit into high-volume technical printing projects.

Comparison of GMN’s screen printing processes for technical printing

Selecting the most optimal printing method for any technical printing program depends on the quantity, size, complexity, and functional requirements of the part. At GMN, we utilize two screen-printing methods: sheet-fed and roll-to-roll. Although both these methods differ in their ability to handle the core factors listed above, the main difference lies in material handling. While sheet-fed printing plays a critical role during design development, roll-to-roll printing remains the undisputed winner for most high-volume projects for its run speed, material usage, inline inspection, and the ability to print multiple colors per pass.

Sheet-fed screen printing

Sheet-fed screen printing is usually preferred for low to medium-volume technical printing projects. The sheet-fed printing process requires an operator to load individual sheets into a press and then remove them after each pass, adding additional time to the overall job. This, combined with its size and run rate limitations (which we will discuss further in the next blog), is why sheet-fed printing has proven to be an inefficient and more costly method for high-volume technical printing.

However, the development phase usually involves creating several variations of a design in remarkably low volumes and short intervals. Speed and agility become critical. As a result, regardless of the printing method utilized for production, the sheet-fed printing process is always used during the development phase for technical printing projects.

Roll-to-roll screen printing

Roll-to-roll printing is the go-to printing method used for high-volume jobs that contain a high level of complexity, which is archetypical for technical printing projects. The substrate is administered in rolls (or webs) and continually fed through the press by a system of rollers. High-volume roll-to-roll technical printing has a significant presence in the medical and appliance industry for capacitive touch applications, disposable medical devices, and electrodes.

Roll-to-roll printing is better equipped for high-volume projects because of its higher speed, tighter tolerances, and better-quality levels, resulting in less material wastage and cost savings. This process is significantly faster as the materials do not require much handling, and parts can be printed continuously. Other factors that add to roll-to-roll printing’s superior efficiency include the ability to perform roll-to-roll fabrication and in-process testing. This method is also preferable for through-hole (or via) printing and offers the possibility of printing multiple colors at once.

GMN’s advantage with high-volume technical printing

In addition to the variety of equipment available in-house, GMN provides a unique vantage point during the development and full-scale production stages. Typically, most high-volume technical printing projects come to GMN at the front end of the customer’s development process. The customer may have completed their first round of artwork, be generally satisfied with the design, or have started looking into inks but need support in preparing and finalizing the part design and manufacturing process for high-volume production. That’s where GMN comes in. 

GMN’s quick-turn prototyping services help to develop high-volume technical printing projects with unparalleled efficiency and performance. Since we offer both sheet-fed and roll-to-roll printing, our experienced and knowledgeable R&D team can approach customer’s projects with a quicker learning curve. We work with our customers to create multiple iterations of their design with fast turnarounds, allowing the customer to fine-tune their artwork to specification, while we make sure it’s primed for manufacturing and will produce high yields. 

What makes GMN distinct is that during this development phase, GMN builds parts at low volumes with the mindset that they will eventually scale up to a high-volume printing job. This mindset ensures that we not only simulate the exact inks, squeegee types, print directions, and screen meshes but also replicate the specific drying and curing parameters. As a result, by the end of the development process, the artwork is already optimized, allowing for a more streamlined transition to high-volume production. 

In general, both the printing processes - sheet-fed and roll-to-roll, can be used for technical printing, but project requirements such as volume, tolerance, and circuit complexity, can determine which method is better for your specific application. However, the performance or capabilities mentioned throughout this blog for each printing process is also dependent on the type of equipment used. To learn more about our printing equipment, stay tuned until our next blog.

By Richard Smylie Jun 17, 2021
Brushed finish sill plate

Are you looking to add a subtle yet eye-catching decorative element to your metal component? Look no further than brush finish! GMN specializes in metal decoration, and one attribute we commonly add to metal is a mechanical brush finish.

What is a brush finish?

Performed at the front-end of the manufacturing process, a brush finish consists of many unidirectional lines creating a clean, consistent blanket over the surface of the metal. Applied to either stainless steel or aluminum, brush finish is often combined with other decoration enhancements such as ElectraGraphics, embossing, and screen printing, to name a few. Used in a wide range of products, brush finish is particularly prevalent in the electronics, home appliances, and automotive industries.

The metal brush finish process

As you can see in the video, sheets of raw metal are fed into a machine having a large abrasive brushing wheel over it. The brush creates many fine linear abrasions on the sheet, reflecting light in a unique way. There are many design options to consider as well, including selecting a brush texture ranging from fine to heavy or applying the finish to the metal overall or selectively. For selective finishes, a resist ink is screen-printed onto the metal sheets before the metal is brushed. The resist protects the desired area from being brushed, thus creating an interesting contrast within the design. The contrasting look results solely from the difference in the textures and the way light reflects off of the surface.

After brushing, the metal sheet is washed and dried to remove any residue or oil, and then an operator quickly inspects the sheet for any apparent defects as it continues down the line. A roll-coater can also be set up to apply a tinted or clear coating in-line onto the metal to enhance its durability or appearance. In the video, a tinted coating is applied to the aluminum to make it look slightly grayer. Since stainless steel can be more costly at times, this is a cost-effective way to make aluminum mimic the appearance of stainless steel.

Finally, the sheets go through an oven and are again visually examined for any imperfections. This final inspection marks the completion of applying the brush finish, and the metal is now ready to move onto the subsequent process.

Brushed metal finishes at GMN

To catch a glimpse of the various looks that can be realized with brush finishing and see the brush finish line in action, you can watch our video below.

 

Tyler Burrington
By Tyler Burrington Jun 07, 2021
A display being tested in the Light Lab

When it comes to product development, testing the materials and technologies used in a design under different lighting conditions is a critical step in the development process. External lighting plays a crucial role in how a part looks and functions, so the component must meet project requirements in all intended settings.

Whether testing for display readability, color matching, backlighting diffusion, or anything else, GMN has a state-of-the-art Light Lab to precisely control lighting to allow accurate testing for several variables. But how exactly does GMN’s Light Lab accomplish this?

What’s inside GMN’s Light Lab?

GMN’s Light Lab is a large, dark room outfitted with different lighting and testing equipment. Keeping the room as dark as possible is critical to getting accurate lighting values, so the walls are painted jet black. Even the brightness of the monitors used with the equipment is cautiously controlled, as any additional light can cause readings to be off. 

There are two main specialized lighting sources used for illumination and testing within GMN’s Light Lab – 

  • Specular contrast source - It contains a bright quartz lamp in a specially-coated housing. The housing reflects and diffuses the light from the lamp, allowing it to disseminate to mimic different indirect and ambient lighting conditions. 
  • Direct light source - It focuses a powerful beam of light directly onto the testing surface. 

These two light sources are frequently used in conjunction with each other to replicate outdoor environments, where there would be both direct and diffused lighting.

Across from the light sources is a five-axis motion system that contains an orthogonal goniometer, which holds the device under test. The goniometer can achieve a complete ±90° vertical and horizontal viewing angle, accommodating almost any angle for testing. Custom fixtures designed for each part or device are attached to the goniometer to ensure that they’re held in place while the platform rotates. Optical testing instruments, such as cameras and a spectroradiometer, sit next to the light sources on a separate moveable fixture.  

While we’ve spoken previously about our vast display testing capabilities, GMN’s Light Lab is also used for overcoming tough backlighting and color matching challenges. For highly regulated industries such as the medical or aerospace field, overlays, labels, and placards may need to meet precise color specifications in specific lighting scenarios. Likewise, keypads or displays with backlighting may need to meet color or luminance specifications while in use. Our Light Lab is equipped with multiple cameras and a spectroradiometer to verify color values, luminance values, and color matching. 

GMN can help design custom testing programs to your specifications, saving valuable time in the development process while maintaining product quality and consistency. To learn more about our in-house testing capabilities or discuss your project needs, visit our website or schedule a consultation with our experts.

By Steve Baker Jun 02, 2021
A backlit capacitive switch

Projected capacitive (PCAP) touch technology has become a popular user interface option for many industries in recent years. Not only do they offer a sleek, intuitive user experience, but the possibilities for backlighting a capacitive touch circuit are nearly endless.

While capacitive touch technology incorporates well with a variety of backlighting options, the design of the circuit is an important consideration. If designed improperly, the switches can potentially impede parts of the lighting, resulting in an uneven or inconsistent look.

How can capacitive touch circuits affect backlighting?

Capacitive circuits work by projecting a capacitive field and measuring any changes to the capacitance. This capacitive field is most commonly generated using circuits printed with conductive ink. Standard conductive inks, such as silver, carbon, or dielectric ink, can pose challenges when printing backlit PCAP circuits. Due to the opacity of the inks, they can block backlighting and result in uneven lighting or shadowing on the switch.

Fortunately, there are several methods to ensure that backlit capacitive touch circuits illuminate uniformly every time. Below, we’ll be going over the three most common techniques we use at GMN to ensure consistent backlighting.

Methods for backlighting capacitive switches:

  • Selective printing

One of the simplest ways to backlight a PCAP switch is by selectively printing around any backlit areas or iconography. When using an inexpensive carbon or other opaque ink, icons or symbols can be left unprinted within the design. As the backlighting rises through the switch, the light only comes through the unprinted area, resulting in a user-intuitive illuminated icon.

However, there are a few requirements to employ this backlighting technique. First, the switch area needs to be large enough for iconography to be left unprinted. In addition, there needs to be enough conductive ink surrounding the unprinted area to complete the circuit and result in an effective switch. This method is ideal for large or geometrically simple switch designs.

  • Backlighting through clear conductive ink

For smaller or more complex switch designs, a solution that has been recently gaining popularity is using clear, polymer-based conductive inks (such as PEDOT ink). These inks run from translucent to nearly transparent and allow the circuit to be lit from directly underneath. Unlike a switch that uses opaque ink that potentially blocks lighting, clear ink conducts electricity the same way but allows light to pass through the circuit unobstructed. While transparent inks are more expensive than opaque alternatives, they can be applied the same way through screen printing.

Another advantage of using these inks is that the translucency can be altered based on the type of ink and thickness of the deposition. Less transparent inks also act as a lighting diffuser, thereby eliminating hotspots.

  • Altering the capacitive touch stack-up

Another solution is to engineer the stack-up so that the backlighting source sits above the capacitive circuit. While most capacitive touch circuits are backlit from underneath, rearranging the backlighting source (typically light-guide film or fiber optic bundles) to sit above the PCAP switches can ensure that the circuits do not impede any lighting.

While this is an effective method, the sensitivity of the PCAP switch needs to be tuned to accurately register inputs through the backlighting layer. Lighting hotspots are also a potential concern as the backlighting sits directly underneath the overlay, but this can be easily solved by adding a diffuser.

The above solutions are often mixed and matched depending on the design to ensure that each part of the interface is consistently lit. GMN offers a host of different backlighting solutions for nearly any project. To discuss your specific backlighting needs, schedule a consultation with our experts.

By Richard Smylie May 27, 2021
A drag spin finish nameplate manufactured by GMN

A spin finish, also known as spotting or engine turning, is a mechanical metal decoration technique that creates visually striking and repetitive circular patterns. The unique interplay of light as it reflects off the finished metal surface adds movement and enhances the aesthetic appeal of the part. Rising to popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, the spin finish was frequently seen in the automotive industry, especially on dashboards and instrumentation panels. However, in recent times, this decorative finish has expanded its reach to include a broad range of industries such as aerospace, appliance, electronics, and more.

The spin finish process

Primarily performed on aluminum or stainless steel, a mechanical spin finish is always applied on a flat sheet of raw metal. The metal sheet is first lubricated with oil to facilitate uniform spinning and prevent the burning of metal when the abrasive pad is applied. The abrasive pads are mounted on single or multiple spindles that descend on the flat surface to skin the metal in a circular, overlapping pattern. The extent to which the patterns overlap each other can be easily adjusted and altered.

Types of spin finishes 

The two types of spin finishes that can be applied are: 

  • Drag spin finish - Once the spindle(s) descends on the metal, it literally drags across the surface while continuously blading the metal and creating overlapping swirls.
     
  • Spot spin finish - Once the spindle(s) descends, it blades the metal from a targeted spot, ascends, and then descends again on a spot next to it, creating overlapping or isolated patterns.

The computer numerical control (CNC) spin finish machines at GMN can hold up to seven spindles at a time, and the diameter of each spindle can vary from a minimum of 0.5” to a maximum of 20”. The distance between each spindle and the speed at which they travel across the metal surface can be customized to achieve different looks. Depending on the design intent, the swirling pattern can range from fine, to heavy, to coarse. Spin finishes can also be applied overall or selectively. For selective finishes, a resin is screen-printed on the metal, which protects the desired areas from the abrasive pad, thus creating contrasting looks within the design. Offering a range of sizes, depths, and pattern intensities, the cosmetic variations that spin finish can produce is truly vast.

Once the spin finish is applied, the metal sheet is run through a washing line to remove the oil from its surface. The sheet is cleaned, dried, and a clear or tinted coating is applied to the surface of the metal. As a subtractive process, the spin finish takes away the inherent protective layer from the surface of the metal, and hence adding a topcoat is extremely crucial to seal the exposed metal for performance considerations. The sheets are visually inspected and then are ready to be formed into the desired shape. Decorative accents such as lithographic, screen, digital, and pad printing, along with embossed or debossed graphics, are often added to spin finished parts to further accentuate their aesthetic appeal.

With decades of custom manufacturing experience and printing capabilities under its belt, GMN has worked with several leading companies including Dell, Ford, Callaway, General Motors, Keurig, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to create stunning spin-finished nameplates and components.

To see the spin finish process in action, watch the video below.