30 Mar Permanently marking plastic for traceability to prevent counterfeiting and product tampering
Why Permanent Marks are Important
Most manufacturers have plastic parts that need some type of identifying mark. Marking on plastic materials can add a unique challenge to the process of tracking and identification. Often times the manufacturer uses sticky paper labels on their plastic parts but find that this method is not the best option as a label can tear off, can become dirty, unreadable, the surface may not allow the label to stick, or the paper can get wet and simply rub off.
Permanent marking is the most desired option for all manufacturers that plan to track or record information about a part. To achieve permanent marking, the marking must be done directly onto the plastic material. This can be accomplished with several different methods.
Inkjet Marking is Inferior
Marking parts with an ink jet print can be fast, but many manufacturers are moving away from this process for several reasons:
- Ink can be expensive over time with high operating costs because of the expendable items involved.
- Many permanent inks use harmful chemicals that can add environmental challenges depending on the type of ink used.
- The ink process can be messy not only for the operators that need to fill them but also the stations were the ink is applied.
- Although ink can be made to be very durable, it can never be permanent.
- Parts can come into contact with many chemicals that will break down even the most durable inks and the mark will be lost forever.
Scribe Marking Plastic Parts
For true permanent making, the manufacturer can scribe the mark into the plastic. This is a mechanical process that drives a scribing pin across the surface and engraves the mark into the plastic. The amount of pressure the pin applies will determine the depth of the mark in the material. Even very light scratched characters can be achieved with this method. The scribe marker can work on most plastic applications including ABS, Delrin, polypropylene, PVC, HDPE, and many other types of plastic materials.
Laser Marking Plastic Parts
Another true permanent marking method would be to use a laser to mark the plastics. A laser can give you a melted mark or a high-quality surface mark with very high contrast. The laser can be absorbed into the plastics to create contrast without burning or foaming the material. This creates a very smooth mark that is critical for some applications, especially for medical implants. The laser can also produce customer logos, codes, boxes, and micro printing.
Because plastics have a wide range of colors, density, and material design, specific lasers work better with different materials. For example the Green Laser (532 nm) has a very high absorption ratio that can produce beautiful marks on PVC, ABS and polystyrene. A Ultraviolet laser (375 nm) is perfect for replacing ink marks on HDPE material. HDPE material is the standard material used in pill bottles, shampoo, heath and beauty containers, and many of your pharmacy containers. Fiber and Vanadate lasers (1064 nm) work well on many high density plastics such as delrin, ABS or many of your automotive material plastics. Even a very detailed diagram or photo can be printed on the plastic material for a permanent option.
Telesis Technologies offers a full line of Scribe and Lasers markers for a very high quality permanent mark.