Written By: Noël Daigle
15 Year Target Life. That’s the important role that specific labels play within the automotive industry. What are some of those specific labels? Safety, warning, or component identification labels that need to last for at least 15 years. This can be a difficult goal to achieve, especially when it comes to the increased use of low surface energy (LSE) plastics within the automotive industry.
One reason for the switch from materials like steel and composites to LSE polyolefin plastics was the reduction of manufacturing parts needed for final assembly of products. Hundreds of steel parts were reduced to a small handful of polyethylene parts which allowed manufacturers and OEM’s to eliminate secondary operations and lower the cost of manufacturing and products significantly. In addition, Industrial Designers and Engineers have chosen these plastics, specifically, for their ability to stand up against chemicals, harsh environments and heavy impacts.
As manufacturers and OEM’s in the Automotive industry strive for safer and more fuel-efficient cars, using LSE polyolefin plastics is also becoming more and more prevalent as it’s estimated that a 10% reduction in a vehicles weight equates to a 5-7% increase in fuel economy. Features such as lowering interior noise and vibrations in vehicle manufacturing only adds to the many other benefits of using LSE polyolefins plastics.
While global label suppliers have long offered labeling technologies for LSE Plastics, these common labeling technologies such as adhesive based stickers, In Mold Labels (IMLs), Heat Transfers, Hot Stamp Foils, and Screen-printing Inks for use on high surface energy (HSE) materials, are merely attempting to “adhere or bond” to the surface of the LSE polyolefin plastic, but they can’t last for very long. Why? Because the very nature of low surface energy plastic is to reject foreign materials, which is ironically why they are often used. Example: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) high school lockers are naturally graffiti resistant. Like Teflon, they resist anything sticking to them.
The reason these labels fail? First and foremost, they are incompatible. They are comprised of a multi-layer construction: an adhesive based or bonding substrate followed by printing inks and then completed with a protective varnish or protective overlay. And while the durable polyolefin plastic these labels are attached to will continually withstand harsh environments, abuse and chemical exposures for years to come, the incompatible label won’t. Ultimately, it will crack, peel, fade, or fall off entirely.
The solution? Polyfuze Fusion Labeling Technology. Polyfuze Fusion Labels are different from every other label because they’re 100% compatible and made from the exact same olefin-based materials that the plastic part is made of. Once the fusion process is complete, the two polyolefin materials have combined to form one piece of seamless and flush polyolefin plastic with no change in durability or structural integrity.
The Polyfuze Fusion Label becomes just as durable and chemically inert as the plastic part itself, able to withstand every harsh environment, chemical contact and more.
A simple illustration showing the difference between Polyfuze Fusion Labeling and other labels is to consider the difference between a temporary vs. a permanent tattoo. Temporary tattoos are applied topically and stick to skin. While it somewhat “bonds” to the skin, with repeated exposure to soap, water, sun, and time, it eventually disintegrates (usually quickly). A temporary tattoo is simply an incompatible ink that is coloring the top layer of the skin for a temporary amount of time.
On the other hand, a permanent tattoo is a compatible ink being deposited deeply into the subsurface of the skin. The two individual components, ink and skin, are now one.
If you are working within the automotive industry, we encourage you to test the labeling system you currently utilize. Chances are, those labels cannot hold up to the rigorous standards in place for safety, warning, or component identification simply because they are incompatible!
Compatible Polyfuze Fusion Labeling Technology has solved some of the labeling problems for both GM and Ford. Specifically, for GM, they were having a difficult time sourcing Heat Transfers from 2 different label suppliers, with both were failing during their engineering testing requirements. They were specifically trying to meet the GMW14445 standard, which is a test for Deet/Sunscreen. Polyfuze Fusion Labeling was trialed and passed with flying colors. Solving their unique problem by passing this test, has led to Polyfuze Fusion Labeling being used in over 20 vehicle platforms and 8 tier 1’s. These customers of were experiencing problems trying to meet the required standards for labeling that were difficult to solve.
Polyfuze Fusion Labeling, with its unique compatible structure and properties, is able to provide a solution for anyone in the Automotive Industry experiencing issues with failing, incompatible labeling for LSE plastics. For Automotive LSE polyolefin plastic components needing 15 year target life, Polyfuze is the only label that can exceed that demand until a vehicles end-of-life (ELV).