Polymer Fusion Labeling for Brand Protection

Noelle Daigle

Jul, 5 July, 2022

Establishing Brand Identity And Trust

Global brands trying to establish themselves have a hard road ahead of them. Not only do they face the difficulty of developing their unique brand image to showcase what makes them different from the competition, but most are working to demonstrate who they are as an organization and what they stand for. This requires a clear marketing strategy, so a brand name eventually becomes known and trusted by consumers.

New and established brands are facing an additional threat today: their products are being reproduced and counterfeited more than ever before. With the increase of online retail platforms, it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to know if what they’re about to purchase is a legit product from the brands they know and trust.

The risk of doing nothing is significant. There is not only the loss of revenue, but also the risk of harmful brand image as fake products with their hard-earned name on them are sent to deceived, paying customers.

This is a large problem affecting many industries today. According to the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition, “the Department of Homeland Security seized over 26,000 shipments of counterfeit goods valued at over $1.3 billion at U.S. borders in Fiscal Year 2020.”1

As brands invest billions into their marketing strategy annually to strengthen identity and bolster image, counterfeiting continually disrupts that cycle by negatively impacting brand recognition and deteriorating customer trust and value perception. This can also be dangerous for industries such as in pharmaceutical. If medical products are falsified, or if intellectual property is stolen, it could lead to potential injury or affect the health of those who might use a product mistakenly thinking they’re a trusted name brand. To ensure brand integrity and protect consumers from product fraud, new solutions are needed to solve the problem of counterfeiting.

Most durable consumer products are made from polyolefin plastics like polypropylene and polyethylene. This “family” of plastics is utilized in consumer goods, industrial products, automotive components, and more.

One of the reasons counterfeiting and theft is so rampant is because this type of plastic is very hard to label using traditional labeling methods. Common labeling options like pad printing, stickers and hot stamp foil are not compatible with polyolefin plastic, which is why they fail or are easily replaced by counterfeiters. Brand Labels are the most important way for a product to prove authenticity, so companies are seeking new solutions to the problems associated with traditional labeling methods. 

The problem is that performance properties making polyolefin thermoplastics so versatile also makes them problematic for common “adhesion-based” labeling methods available today.

Low Surface Energy of Polyolefin Thermoplastics

While materials like steel, aluminum, and glass have a high surface energy (meaning labels such as stickers can adhere to their surfaces with some longevity), Polyolefin Thermoplastics have an extremely low surface energy (similar to that of Teflon™) and are utilized precisely because their low surface energy means they repel chemicals, solvents, and environmental exposures extremely well. This also means that stickers and other traditional labeling methods are unable to adhere to its surface. This was not an issue 40 years ago when most consumer products around the world were made from steel or aluminum but has become a problem for manufacturers as polymers like polypropylene and polyethylene have become the most common material used in global manufacturing.  

Because traditional labeling methods cannot adhere to the surface of polyolefin plastic, products made from these materials are vulnerable to counterfeit. Any mold shop can easily replicate a plastic product and falsely label the product for resale to customers who can’t necessarily tell the difference just by looking.

“Unless the label can be applied permanently to the product or part with no ability of removal, counterfeiters will continue to counterfeit products, parts and labels supposedly protection them regardless of whether or not those labels contain built-in authentication safeguards.” Said Rob Leibrandt, Vice President as Trace It, LLC.

Polymer Fusion Labeling: Secure, Reliable Authentication

Polymer Fusion Labeling is engineered specifically for low surface energy plastics and designed to become like a tattoo for that product for its full lifespan. The technology works but merging two separate polyolefin plastics together (the polyolefin label + the polyolefin product), utilizing melting point, time, and pressure. This produces one single piece of plastic without the use of incompatible materials like adhesives, tie layers, bonding agents, or secondary surface treatments.   

Furthermore, Polymer Fusion Labeling can be integrated with D-TECT™ to safeguard products and provide verifiable authentication for stolen polyolefin products.

D-TECT are microscopic, highly tunable, optical, and magnetic crystals that are introduced into the polymer matrix of Fusion Technology polymers during production and printed as part of a logo, label, or as an imperceptible feature to be applied onto customers products.

During application, the Polymer Fusion Label and customers polyolefin thermoplastic product, part or component simultaneously reach melting point causing a “fusion reaction.”

The result is a permanent authenticatable mark on plastic that cannot be lifted, separated, or removed for the life of the product no matter the environment or exposure.

D-TECT crystals are impossible to reverse engineer and permanently ensure brand protection and product security as well as supply chain governance and quality control for the life of the product.

As global brands that utilize polyolefin thermoplastics for their products and components continue to invest into annual marketing strategies, they might consider a one-time investment that not only provides branding for the life of the product, but simultaneously provides an unheard-of level of protection and authentication. Polyfuze offers an industry-leading Lifetime Guarantee to all our labeling solutions, including Polymer Fusion track/trace labels. Brands can rest assured that Polymer Fusion Technology has their back.

In summary, traditional labeling methods have created challenges for manufacturers as polymers have replaced steel and aluminum during the past several decades. Lack of label durability on polyolefin plastic products has opened the doors for counterfeiting of brands who have worked hard to earn consumer confidence. To solve this problem, new technologies like Polymer Fusion Labeling have been developed to serve manufacturers and help them maintain their hard earned brand image and profitability. 

 


1.      https://www.iacc.org/resources/about/what-is-counterfeiting

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