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Top quality finishes for top quality products

04 April 2013

Ask a professional photographer what camera they would buy if money were no object and the chances are their response will be a Hasselblad. Their quality is out of this world – and quite literally so, as those first lunar pictures were captured by Neil Armstrong using a Hasselblad camera.

The Hasselblad H5D
The Hasselblad H5D

So, when the company was in the final stages of producing its H5D camera range, it sought a like-minded partner to provide those essential finishing touches - the product and branding badges. Key design criteria included logos and branding with very high visibility regardless of the environment - be it a sun drenched shop window or or strongly lit TV studio.

Hasselblad's chosen logo and branding partner, Diametric was tasked with creating a series of four badges to be used on the H5D models and another for a special 'Multi-Shot' edition. The product designers provided Diametric with the specification for the badges and it was down to the latter’s design and manufacturing team to ensure the products not only met but exceeded expectations.

Of all the badges on the H5D, the one to be placed on the grip had to be the most durable, so Diametric proposed an aluminium badge with a matte black background. Importantly, the text bearing ‘H5D’ was raised and then diamond cut. By creating tiny horizontal ridges across the text, potential for scratching the surface area was greatly reduced.

Conversely, the H5D name badge on the side of the camera needed to be thin enough so as not to affect the overall dimensions of the product. To overcome this particular challenge, Diametric created an electroformed badge using very thin, chrome plated metal. Diametric’s Shaun Kara, takes up the story:

“Hasselblad’s product designers were very keen on chrome for this badge to reflect the feel and quality of the product but it also had to be thin so it didn’t alter the camera’s width. We sampled different finishes so the designers could see what it would look like in matte and bright chrome. They decided on matte and the solution was an electroformed badge made of very thin nickel with this very industrial-looking matte chrome on top.”

Diametric also advised on the best lacquer to use to coat the badge once it had been placed on the product and recommended a polyester-based product, which would retain the feel of the chrome and ensure durability. The electroforming process was also used for the back decals of the camera. One final die cast aluminium badge bearing the Hasselblad logo completed the branding of the product and a smaller run of 300 badges bearing the words ‘Multi-Shot’ were also produced for this limited edition H5D range. Shaun Kara again:

“The moulding for the camera body was so tight and accurate that there were no margins for error. Every single one of the badges needed to be 100 per cent correct which required the most accurate tooling. The only way to approach this sort of challenge is with experience and an incredible eye for detail. Our manufacturing staff spent extra time checking, double checking and triple checking the tooling before production to ensure it was right first time.”

Once the badges had been manufactured and delivered, Diametric also advised Hasselblad’s production team on the most suitable tools to fit the badges to the products. As well as specifying and supplying a recommended adhesive, Diametric created bespoke application release liners to help the Hasselblad team align the badges prior to application. Special cutting guides were added to the process, with a chrome plated marker on each run of badges. Hasselblad’`s professional camera product manager, Ove Bengtson, concludes:

“Our cameras are all about precision and quality so it’s important to us that that runs through every element of our product design - even to the finishing touches like the branding badges. Diametric really understood this and looked at our overall vision and aims, which meant we had a bespoke answer to our challenges and needs, rather than an ‘off the shelf’ solution.”

From photography to high-end audio - and Linn Products, in particular - a company that makes some the world’s finest audio systems. Like Hasselblad, the company is equally meticulous in its choice of suppliers, and has been working with Glasgow based label and membrane panel specialist, Mekall for some 25 years now.

Until recently Mekall’s main role was to supply Linn with a range of polycarbonate labels - either to carry technical information or as insulators to form a barrier between the casing and live components. However, last year the company was brought in to advise on the production of components for Linn’s new Kiko, a compact digital streaming system. The brief was to produce composite layer side panels and screen print the Kiko translucent front display panel. Linn engineer, Doug Anderson, takes up the story:

“The 2mm thick side panels needed to be of a very high quality material and precision engineered to fine tolerances. Mekall had just invested in a new computer controlled precision cutting system that they felt could do the job. They worked closely with us to find the material which worked. Nothing was too much trouble and they were painstaking in their attention to detail.

“The front display panel also posed a number of challenges. The display symbols and Linn logo were to be screen printed on both sides of the translucent panel.  Mekall went to great lengths to source the right inks. It was vital that the panel was scratch resistant and the printing was clearly defined to enhance the user experience.  Mekall really went the extra mile by finding various samples and working through numerous options with us until the right solution was found. They push the boundaries and keep going until the problem is resolved. I believe they share Linn’s passion for perfection and this makes them great to work with.”

Wherever possible Linn likes to manufacture every part itself, but when it does outsource, the company demands the same quality standards from suppliers. Stewart Knowles, the buyer for the Kiko system, concludes:

“Mekall’s quality standards have been exceptional with very few returns on this unit. We also know that any materials sourced through Mekall comply with all the relevant international standards and accreditations so we don’t need to worry about this. I would say some 90 percent of our units have some component supplied from Mekall in them whether it be a label or panel. They are definitely one of our top tier suppliers and frequently introduce new production ideas which save us time and money.”

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