Waters at deep oceanic depths consistently hover at near-freezing temperatures (37-50°F) and the deeper of descent into the ocean, the more one would encounter cold, salty water
Saltwater is especially corrosive to certain materials and accelerates erosion. For example, the more iron a certain material contains, the faster it will corrode that material. Copper, brass, or bronze are often used because their low iron content causes them to react with oxygen, and over time will produce a protective green patina.
Low surface energy polyolefin plastic is widely utilized for deep-sea applications because it is a chemically inert material, making it ideal to withstand the salt-water corrosion of deep oceanic depths. All plastics are inherently resistant and inert to all salts, making it the ideal material to utilize for deep-sea buoys and floats because it naturally resists saltwater corrosion.
In deep oceanic depths, everything is under an enormous amount of pressure. At 6000m the pressure is 8762psi compared to 14.7psi at the surface, impacting a given object in every single direction.
Saltwater and crushing deep-sea pressures have little to no effect on the material of plastic itself, but the effect they have on typical identification, tracking, or brand name labels on those plastics is a different story.
Typical labeling technologies cannot survive these harsh conditions and quickly disintegrate, which means they will fail to perform their essential function to identify or track deep-sea assets.
DeepWater Buoyancy is the world’s largest producer of subsea buoyancy products and solutions, with their product offerings frequently being considered “the gold standard” within the Oceanographic Community. They specialize in providing solutions for offshore oil & gas, energy, and technology companies to depths of 6000 meters.
The heart of their product offering is a line of subsurface ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) buoys. The buoys are designed to house these ADCPs and other sensors for high current data collection applications.
In addition to this, they produce bottom mounts, instrument collars, and cable floats. For offshore oil and gas, the company offers installation blocks, modular buoys, marker floats, and ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) buoyancy.
With 40+ years’ experience with the company and Oceanographic community, David Capotosto, Director of Business Development of DeepWater Buoyancy, and Matthew Henry, Plant Manager, have helped build a company that is well poised to deliver solutions that are customizable to customers’ needs and that outperform their competitors.
Labels on plastic DeepWater Buoyancy products have a critical role to play. They must be able to withstand continuous saltwater corrosion, crushing water pressure that abrades at all angles, years and years of use, all while remaining completely legible and intact upon product retrieval for the labels to be able to perform their basic function.
If the label cannot survive deep ocean conditions, it will become illegible or completely fail. Both scenarios are undesirable because they both mean that the label will fail in its essential function to reliably provide critical information.
DeepWater Buoyancy first became acquainted with Mold In Graphic Systems, a plastics fusion labeling solutions company, over 30 years ago to utilize its polymer fusion labeling as a solution for their products. Because DeepWater Buoyancy’s products are high quality, long term, durable data collection and buoyancy solutions, they required a labeling technology that is 100% resistant to the effects of saltwater corrosion, deep seawater pressures, and the test of time.
A true testament to the durability of DeepWater Buoyancy products and Mold In Graphics Polymer Fusion Labeling, buoys and products have been labeled and placed at depths of “6,000 meters, (8,600 psi) as cold as 36°F, for up to 30 years in length, and look pristine upon product retrieval,” Matt said.
To further illustrate the harsh conditions that exist within this industry even before launching a buoy into the ocean, David described the conditions that these products – and their labels – must be able to withstand on the transport boat on their way to be launched into the ocean.
“The deep ocean is an extremely harsh, violent environment. Not only beneath the surface of the waves but also above. The buoyancy products are loaded onto ships, where they begin the journey out to the drop point.”
These ships contain lots of sharp metal surfaces and the deckhands can’t always be gentle. If the labeling technology fails before the product is even dropped into the ocean, that isn’t a good thing.
“Labels only matter two times to clients. Once when they drop the products into the ocean, and once more when they are retrieved,” David said. “The labels are used for identification and tracking, so they have to know what they’re looking at before deployment and after recovery of the buoyancy product.”
DeepWater Buoyancy now uses Fusion Labeling Technology for 95% of their rotationally molded products.
“We use MIGS Fusion Labeling Technology because they are durable labels for our durable products. They offer us the opportunity to maintain a nice appearance, they’re easy to use and therefore minimize the amount of work that we must do to apply the graphics. Because Polypropylene is an inert surface and the labels are also inert, the label becomes one with the Polypropylene component and lasts forever,“ David said.
The reason that Fusion Labels are inert is because the labels are made from the same material as the plastic part or component itself is made from. The labels become 100% compatible with the surface of the plastic. They last for the life of the part and can withstand transport into the ocean, including rough handling and continuous outdoor exposure to the elements (including fluctuating hot and cold temperatures). They are perfectly able to withstand violent, harsh deep oceanic environments, continuous saltwater corrosion, water pressure, and extended time in any environment.
It is a 100% polymer label that fuses molecularly into the subsurface of the plastic, and therefore takes on the same attributes: Chemically Inert and 100% saltwater corrosion and environmentally resistant, expand/contract with the plastic component, and unaffected by extreme temperatures and water pressure. Fusion Labeling technology works cohesively with the plastic, not against it, therefore eliminating label failures and the effects of corrosion.
Fusion Labeling Technology has been proven to withstand multiple harsh and extreme tests, and DeepWater Buoyancy products have certainly put them to the test as well, remaining perfectly intact and unaffected by the oceanic environment at 6,000 meters below the ocean, at 8,600 psi, in temperatures as cold as 36°F, for up to 30 years in length.
One thing DeepWater Buoyancy has proven is that Fusion Labeling Technology is the only option for longevity in harsh oceanic environments.
One industry that could really benefit from Fusion Labeling Technology would be International Maritime Shipping of Dangerous Goods in drums which is bound by the labeling standard BS 5609.
BS 5609 stands for “British Standard 5609,” and is a testing requirement for printed pressure-sensitive, adhesive-coated labels needing certification for attachment to chemical drums in a marine environment.
The purpose is to ensure that if a chemical drum falls off a ship that the label remains adhered, intact and legible after an extended period in the ocean.
Certification testing includes artificial weathering, peel adhesion and color fastness tests along with labels needing to withstand three-months saltwater submersion in the English Channel.
Problem is, all testing is conducted on pressure-sensitive adhesive labels applied to high surface energy aluminum plates per the standard. The most used chemical drum being used for shipment are made from low surface energy polyethylene, a material whose characteristics most closely resemble Teflon.
What does that mean? Pressure-sensitive adhesive labels cannot reliably withstand harsh oceanic conditions on polyethylene drums because, testing isn’t conducted on labels applied to polyethylene.
The problem with pressure-sensitive adhesive labels in short, is that they are comprised of incompatible materials that the non-polar surface of polyethylene plastic continuously rejects.
Furthermore, adhesive-based labeling technologies have a two-fold battle, they are fighting (and losing) to stay attached to a surface that will never truly bond with, and they are also exposed to the effects of time as well as the violent and corrosive environment of the ocean.
They will quickly disintegrate and fail.
Once fused, Fusion Labels are fully flush with the plastic product or component, become one with the part, and are equally as immune and resistant to the harsh and corrosive environment of the ocean.
DeepWater Buoyancy is a true leader in their industry, setting standards for high-quality subsea buoyancy floats and providing unmatched solutions for their customers. Mold In Graphics has been proud to partner with DeepWater Buoyancy for over 30 years, providing unmatched solutions for identification, asset tracking, or brand labeling for low surface energy plastics.
When you need a buoyancy product that sets standards within its industry, there is no better solution than DeepWater Buoyancy. When you need a polymer labeling technology that needs to fuse into your plastic product, providing the only solution that is proven to withstand deep oceanic conditions and remain 100% identifiable for the life of the part, Mold In Graphics Fusion Labeling Technology is the solution.
To find out more about how DeepWater Buoyancy is continually setting standards within the Oceanographic Industry, check out their website at https://deepwaterbuoyancy.com/.
To find out more about Mold In Graphics Fusion Labeling Technology, check out the website at https://www.moldingraphics.com/