Top Ten Misconceptions When Decorating Plastics

Noelle Daigle

Jul, 5 July, 2016

There are some common misconceptions when decorating injection molded plastics. Below you will find the top ten common misconceptions when decorating these plastics. The goal is to build your understanding of how the surface of plastics are affected and how they interact with common adhesion based labeling technologies versus newer cohesion based technology from Polyfuze Graphics® Corporation.

Misconception #1:
Thinking There Is No Permanent Decorating Method

Either by UV, weathering or chemical exposure of some kind, all traditional labeling technologies will fail to be permanent. Right?

Not quite.

When compatible materials are used to comprise the graphic, a truly permanent decoration can be achieved to last the life of the plastic.

View Polyfuze Test Data Here



Misconception #2:
Thinking Stickers or IML’s are the Only Way to Add Multiple Colors

Due to the nature of the pigments used in our Polyfuze technology, dramatic multi-color effects can be achieved including halftones and gradient patterns, all while utilizing less colors. Photorealism can also be achieved with the Polyfuze CMYK process. Stickers, IML’s and other methods attempting multi-color decoration on plastics will have their inks and substrates degrade over time.

Misconception #3:
Pretreating Plastic Does Not Affect Your Production Efficiency Very Much

Other decorating methods that require pre-surface treatments before decorating are only adding additional time and money into cycle times. The Polyfuze graphic is a quick and easy-to-use secondary process that does not require any pre-treating of the plastic surface, which means faster cycle times and better overall time efficiency.

Misconception #4:
Picking and Placing IML’s Does Not Adversely Impact Cycle Times

IML decorating takes an additional amount of time to pick and place a label into a mold. This extra time, anywhere from 2 seconds or more is adding to your cycle time. For example, if you have 500,000 units to process with an IML, at 6 seconds per part, that is 3,000,000 seconds wasted! Polyfuze technology does not add any additional cycle time. Using Polyfuze graphics could have resulted in making 100,000 additional parts in this scenario, which would result in higher profits. View Real Cost of IML’s Video

Misconception #5:
Durability Comes At a Higher Price

Polyfuze is a premium over the cost of foil.  However, is extremely cost competitive to stickers, IML’s, and heat transfers.  If your current decorating method for PE/PP has durability failures then you have found the right replacement!

Misconception #6:
Adhesives Stick to Polyethylene and Polypropylene Long Term

Adhesives, by their very nature are not compatible with olefin based plastics. Adhesives were intended for the paper and textile industry and will not flex with plastics at the same rate, which causes decorating methods that use adhesives to separate from the plastic surface when any stress is applied to the plastic.

Misconception #7:
You Are Limited to 15 Square Inches When Using Transfers

If you are using a heat transfer or hot stamp foil to decorate, you may have found that if you are wanting to apply a graphic that is larger than 4”x5”, that these processes are actually requiring you to use a hot stamping machine that is rated for more tonnage. The higher the tonnage of the machine the higher the machine costs.

Heat transfers and foils require a higher psi rating, with an average of 400-500psi, while a Polyfuze graphic only requires 75psi for application. If you calculate: width x height x pressure required / 2000 (lbs per ton), this equals the tonnage required. Simply stated, lower tonnage needs equals lower equipment costs and with Polyfuze you are able to apply a larger graphic with a lower tonnage machine compared to foil and heat transfers.

Misconception #8:
High Scrap Rates Are to Be Expected When Decorating Plastic

Why settle?  Our customers are reporting extremely low scrap rates.  Well under 1%.  Again, why settle?

Misconception #9:
Fine Line Detail Is Difficult to Achieve

The high pressure requirements for hot stamp foil does not lend well to fine line detail. Rather than using a die to create fine lines, Polyfuze prints the fine lines which is then fused into the part with very low pressure and a silicone die.

Misconception #10:
Uneven Wall Thicknesses Can’t Be Decorated With Consistent Results

Other decorating methods stick only onto the surface level of the plastic. If there are any curves or variation in wall thicknesses in your part, this will easily flex at different rates, delaminating the decoration off the surface over time. Polyfuze actually is very forgiving to uneven wall thicknesses and fuses completely in the sub-surface of the part, keeping it level with the plastic walls, not raised, and flexing easily and evenly with the plastic.

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