Hardigg, now known as Pelican-Hardigg after Pelican’s acquisition of the company in 2009, has been a partner of Polyfuze’s sister company MIGS® since 1984 on their Heavy Duty line of rotomolded military cases, supplying them Fusion Labeling Technology over that time span.
Rotomolded cases, along with a myriad of Injection Molded cases are used for transporting different types of equipment, some of which come with an acquisition cost of over $5,000 to the Military. That equipment is important enough to the Department of Defense (DoD) that it be tracked and traced over the entire life cycle, sometimes spanning several years. The ability to track them lies solely on Item Unique Identification (IUID) labels.
As outlined in MIL-STD-130N, a Department of Defense Standard Practice for identification marking of U.S. Military Property, “Direct identification marking and identification plates, identification bands, identification tags, or identification labels used shall be as permanent as the normal life expectancy of the item and be capable of withstanding the environmental tests and cleaning procedures specified for the item to which it is affixed.”
As a referenced document, the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.211-7003 further states “Unique item identifier (UII)” means a set of data elements permanently marked on an item that is globally unique and unambiguous and never changes in order to provide traceability of the item throughout its total life cycle.”
MIL-STD Mandates are not being met according to Item Unique Identification (IUID) Environmental Survivability Testing Report 20121. Tests were conducted on adhesive based labels applied to High Surface Energy (HSE) glass, Low Surface Energy (LSE) polypropylene and CARC. In conclusion, they recognized two main problems that IUID labels encountered when tested for longevity and durability,
1). The label/mark fell off the item or was forcefully removed, or
2). The label/mark was worn to the point of being unreadable.
Knowing DoD operates in complex and diverse environments (sea, space, air, desert, tropics, arctic, etc.), label suppliers are continually experimenting with adhesives to improve label durability in specific harsh environments. A specific type of adhesive may be formulated to endure desert climates while another must endure tropical.
However, it’s not just various environments labels are continually exposed to, it’s also substrates to which they are attached and how the two interact with each other.
A great example of this in the report was Chemical Durability Testing, specifically for labels intended to be applied to LSE polyolefin plastics. Instead of conducting tests on labels applied to LSE polyolefin plastic (same plastic used for Pelican-Hardigg cases for instance) to understand how surface energy affects adhesion when exposed to chemicals, labels were applied to glass microscope slides.
Glass is an HSE substrate (250-500 dyne/cm) with 92% more surface energy than LSE polyolefins (29-30 dyne/cm) which are more like Teflon (18 dyne/cm), one of the most non-stick surfaces around.
Even though labels were applied to HSE glass in this study, it was stated that “multiple failure modes were observed for chemical exposure testing” and that labels “performed poorly with exposure to organic solvents including acetone, xylene, and alcohol.”
With 92% less adhesion, it can be concluded that labels applied to LSE polyolefins and exposed to these chemicals would experience even worse results.
Another test performed on both HSE and LSE surfaces, was Pressure Washing which the report called a “degrading influence” to which “most labels performed poorly” and became either partially detached or completely removed.
It’s safe to say that military applications requiring IUID labeling that provides traceability through total life cycle on LSE polyolefin materials are going to have major problems.
Incompatible IUID labeling methods cannot meet the requirement of permanent “life use” on LSE polyolefin plastics used in defense applications.
As the world’s only 100% compatible label for LSE polyolefin plastics, Polyfuze Fusion Labeling Technology exceeds every testing requirement set forth in MIL-STD-810 and can be utilized in every complex and diverse environment in which the DoD operates such as sea, space, air, desert, tropics, arctic and more.
Polyfuze Fusion Labeling guarantees performance that exceeds the intent of “normal life expectancy” and ”total life cycle” found in MIL-STD-130N and DFARS 252.211-7003.
References: 1. https://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/pdi/uid/docs/iuid_environmental_survivability_testing_report.pdf