ECI Screenprint's world is populated by technical schematics, precision machinery, and demanding applications. But as you'll discover, it's the human element that ultimately allows this industrial-printing specialist to grow and explore new technologies.
“All of our screen presses, laminators, diecutters, and tables are movable. There’s less handling, and the product comes out ready to go. We’re looking to be lean anywhere we can in production,” Cook notes. “And we can arrange multiple production steps in a round-table format and put one skilled person in the middle to operate all machines on one job and then assemble the product while the machines are processing the next piece. Multiple steps are completed in one phase.”
In addition to membrane switches, ECI’s other specialties include graphic overlays, elastomer keypads, adhesive labels, industrial nameplates, contract assembly, and rush prototypes (Figure 2). ECI is equipped to design and build anything from standalone, flexible, adhesive-backed membrane switches, ready for peel-and-plug application, to projects involving printed circuit boards and metal backers with standoffs, hardware, connectors, surface-mount components, and membrane switches built on top.
Cook says keeping so many products and processes in house allows ECI to run as efficiently as possible and makes scheduling easier. He notes that, with the exception of raw materials and select components, ECI keeps its reliance on outside suppliers to an absolute minimum.
ECI is a Duraswitch licensed manufacturer. Duraswitch invented a magnetic-armature switching system. The company patented its design of a floating armature that is attracted to a magnet that resides above the circuit level. When a machine operator presses the armature, the armature breaks away from the magnet and closes the circuit. Cook says Duraswitch is a highly reliable product that has a very long life time.
“I find it the technology performs really well in specialty applications where you have need large keys, for somebody who wears gloves, or in a high-reliability or high-liability situation like medical devices, where failure is not an option. There are many interesting uses for it.”
ECI was one of the first licensees to produce the product under Duraswitch’s patent. Cook explains that Duraswitch controls of the type of product being manufactured, supplies the armatures, and works with ECI to review designs.
“Wherever the unit is plugged in is where I stop,” Cook says. However, ECI is capable of handling each part of the process from conception to finished product (Figure 3).
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