EIL and Permark bring back Fespa gold

November 2019

The company won the gold award in the Functional Print Category for its screen printed hospital bed controller set, produced for medical bed and stretcher manufacturer Howard Wright.

Jared Maxwell-Smith, site manager at EIL, says, “We are absolutely rapt with the award. The job failed to win anything in the local competition but we received encouragement to place it in the SGIAA awards and it won gold.”

In fact, at the SGIAA Awards gala in September last year, EIL received gold, silver, and bronze medals for separate pieces of work in the Industrial and Functional Category.

Maxwell-Smith continues, “The SGIAA encouraged us to enter Fespa so we have now won another gold, which recognises the difficulty of the job and the innovation that went into it.”

EIL specialises in precision screen printing custom design and manufactures a range of plastics, metals and specialty adhesives. Maxwell-Smith, a qualified screen printer who has around 17 years’ experience in the industry, says the job did not come together overnight.

He says, “It took us about two years of going back and forth with the customer to get it right. Howard Wright is based in New Plymouth and we needed to get it just how they wanted. With so many layers that go together, the overall work required a good amount of coordination.”

The Fespa judges delivered this description of the gold winner: “This hospital bed controller set, consisting of two membrane switches, has been screen printed in three colours sub surface and using perfectly registered graphite conductive tracks. It has been printed with LED windows and an opaque layer to prevent light bleed, before being applied to a tight radius injection moulding.”

Process oriented

Aaron Quill, technical manager at EIL, says, “The win is awesome. We are really proud for the company and for New Zealand. It is a first and it is great to have recognition, especially on a global scale.”Like Maxwell-Smith, Quill has spent almost two decades in the industry as a qualified screen printer. He has worked on numerous jobs that required attention to detail and he describes the gold winning work as relatively technical.

He says, “With this job, we had to achieve numerous laminating processes and registration processes. We had to make those processes work so that the job would work.“The most difficult part of the job was the fact that the controller wraps around the tight radius of the cartridge it goes on. We needed to assemble it in layers because of its thickness. No one had done that up before we tried it.

“In fact, the forming company we worked with didn’t believe it could be done at the time. We had to form the buttons on a curved surface as well, so that required some innovative thinking.

“We had a lot of trialling to do to find what worked with the curve and the air tracking, which is the shifting of the air between the keys; the air needs to travel somewhere. So how we set those up affected the job. We had to wrap it in pieces.

“Another part of the job calling for precision involved placing the graphics on the top. They must line up exactly with the printing and fill the recess. Another tricky piece is the tails that plug into the circuit boards. The patient control is a hand held unit, which connects to the same piece. Lining them up requires precision cutting.”

He adds that the controllers have become popular with the customer’s clients. He says, “We are pumping a few of them out now, making our way through five hundred sets for Howard Wr ig ht.”

Maxwell-Smith and Quill say that clients can present difficult challenges in the type of work they undertake but such work has its own rewards, apart from award success.

Quill adds, “We have no idea what the next crazy idea that one of our customers will come up with but we really do look forward to tackling these challenges head on.”