When An Old Friend Needs a Hand
CleanMark 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 CleanMark put their thinking caps on to resolve the problem.
Finding the Silver Lining
Working closely with ALTEK engineers, the team at CleanMark 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 excellent 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
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 CleanMark to put into their injection molding apparatus, it meant that the process was now more efficient and less costly.