FIM & IMD:
Lgi has had a strong business relationship with ALTEK for over a decade. Using today’s most sophisticated injection molding equipment, the manufacturer supplies close-tolerance parts to companies in the aerospace, medical and industrial markets. ALTEK was approached by Precor—a manufacturer of exercise equipment—to produce the control panels for a line of new elliptical machines. One particular component of the panel, the D-Pad, required a printed component that ALTEK needed help with. They turned to us for our expertise.
Those pesky metallics
Many of the pads ALTEK needed us to help create were a metallic silver, which poses one of the biggest challenges in the injection molding process. When shooting hot plastic into a mold, the metallic ink has a tendency to streak. The metallic particles impregnated into the ink can bunch together creating inconsistent coloration. ALTEK and Lgi put their thinking caps on to resolve the problem.
THE PROCESS & SOLUTION
Finding the silver lining
Working closely with ALTEK engineers, the team at Lgi conducted several rounds of testing, pilot runs and meticulous inspection before discovering a new method, which completely reexamined and revamped the process. Together, through trial and error, we found a way to use our FIM process to produce the silver metallic D Pads with greater uniformity and color consistency. The printed components maintained their integrity when they went through ALTEK’s injection molding process. Even when a layer of hot plastic resin was shot over our ink, it did not disturb the printing. The multi-layer plastic, which covered the printed elements, proved extremely durable. The printed surface below was crisp, clear and remained stable. Once the finished D Pads were perfected, ALTEK proudly sent them off to Precor for assembly.
A thrilling discovery and one happy customer
ALTEK was elated because our success meant they didn’t need to use a secondary printing process. Because they were getting a finished, pre-printed piece from Lgi to put into their injection molding apparatus, it meant that the process was now more efficient and less costly.