Polymer Fusion: What It Is, and Why It Is Becoming Popular in Various Global Industries
Polymer Fusion is the science of fusing two polymer-based objects together into a single component (kind of like polymer ‘welding’). The most common use for this emerging technology is permanent labeling of plastic, where a plastic label is fused with a plastic part, a process known as Polymer Fusion Labeling.
Why Polymer Fusion Is Becoming Popular?
The reason Polymer Fusion Labeling has gained popularity during the past decade has to do with global manufacturing. During the 1950s, most consumer goods such as trash cans, lawn mowers, and automobiles were constructed with steel and aluminum components.
Since then, plastic polymers like polypropylene and polyethylene have replaced steel and aluminum as the most common material used in manufacturing (once again, think of waste containers or lawn mowers/car parts) due to their affordability, durability, and weight savings advantages.
Despite the many benefits of plastic polymers, their widespread use as a replacement for steel and aluminum arrived with one major problem: they are extremely difficult to label. Both polypropylene and polyethylene have incredibly low surface energy (essentially meaning that nothing sticks to them), deeming traditional labeling methods such as hot stamp foil, pad print, heat transfer, and stickers as ineffective in the permanent labeling of plastic polymers.
Surface energy is measured in dynes/cm. Steel has a dynes/cm rating of 1,100. Aluminum has a dynes/cm rating of 840. Teflon has a dynes/cm rating of 18. Polypropylene has a surface energy rating of 29 dynes/com. If you imagine trying to use a traditional labeling method on Teflon, you may start to consider the difficulty of labeling a plastic part.
Furthermore, plastic polymers tend to expand and contract greatly during use, especially those used outdoors. A plastic part like a lawn mower cover may be outside during the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter and will expand/contract substantially.
This aspect of plastic polymers, combined with exceedingly low surface energy, generated the demand for a polymer-specific labeling method. Enter Polymer Fusion Labeling.
Where traditional methods try to adhere to the surface of a plastic part, Polymer Fusion Labeling approaches the problem of labeling plastics from a totally different angle. Polymer Fusion Labeling fuses a plastic label with a plastic part on a subsurface level, permanently causing the two to become one.
When this occurs, the newly labeled part can expand and contract, and endure all the same environments and processes as before, with no impact on the permanency of the label, even when exposed to high-pressure washing, gasoline, oil spills, and cleaners or solvents.
The Benefits of Polymer Fusion Labeling
The technology of Polymer Fusion Labeling is nearly 40 years old, originating primarily in the roto-molding industry, as the label of choice for the demanding conditions of kayaking, where extreme temperatures and unforgiving geology tear away at any other labeling method. Having proven its worth and unparalleled durability in the kayak industry, Polymer Fusion Labeling gained the attention of global industries like lawn and garden, waste and recycling, automotive, medical, and reusable packaging, who have taken advantage of this technology to permanently label their plastic parts.
An additional benefit of Polymer Fusion Labeling comes in the form of increased profitability for manufacturers, by eliminating extra processing steps associated with traditional labeling methods, and even reducing scrap rates due to its reliable and repeatable process.
Polymer Fusion Labeling is a remarkably simple, yet powerful concept: A plastic label fusing with a plastic part. This one process, however, has become the solution to a problem that started as soon as plastic polymers began taking the place of materials like steel and aluminum.
Plastic polymers have very low surface energy, expand and contract often, are exposed to all kinds of harsh environments and processes, and refuse to be permanently labeled by traditional methods such as hot stamp foil, pad print, heat transfer, and stickers. The only way to permanently label plastic parts is through Polymer Fusion Labeling, a process that Mold In Graphics® and Polyfuze® invented and have exclusively provided to various global industries for nearly 40 years.
Are you curious if Polymer Fusion Labeling can work with your industry’s products? Contact us today to learn more and ask for a free sample.