Labeling Plastics for the Automotive Industry

Imagine getting behind the wheel of a brand new 2016 vehicle of your choice… No matter what make or model of automobile you choose, you are going to notice that today’s automotive designs are designed for comfort, gas mileage, energy efficiency and new manufacturing factors that go beyond just passing crash tests and form fitting bucket seats.

Today’s vehicles are manufactured with very different materials compared to the automobiles of yesterday achieving the design and functionality desired. Numerous combinations of iron, copper, steel, glass, rubber and many petroleum based materials makeup components on the inside, outside and under the hood of all vehicles. With the main focus on plastic materials, that account for more than 50 percent of the construction of new cars, according to the American Chemistry Council.

What does the increased production of plastics usage in vehicles mean for automotive component manufactures? Other than making cars lighter, more fuel efficient and safer, it means that there are several new opportunities for manufacturers to stand out when it comes to permanently labeling these LSE plastic materials. Whether it’s on the dashboard, gauges, seat belts, air bags, storage consoles, dials, switches, air conditioner vents, glove compartments, door handles, door panels, floor mats, interior lighting, under the hood ventilation, tubing, battery components and much more, there is the question of who made what materials for the vehicle at hand and what requirements must be labeled on those components to pass any safety or regulatory requirements.

Several traditional methods have been used for years to decorate and brand the plastics for use in the automotive industry, such as hot stamp foils, stickers, heat transfers, IML’s and more. All of these plastic decorating methods have to pass several automotive standards based tests to be considered viable for decorating particular plastic components at hand.

There are a few problems that encompass these current labeling methods. All of the above referenced methods are adhesive and ink based systems. These methods can only temporarily remain unchanged from their original appearance when trying to “stick” to the auto components due to enduring extreme fluctuations in temperature, weathering and flexing.

Although there are not any new standard based parameters in place for testing new polyolefin-based labeling technologies, the new Polyfuze Graphics™ labeling technology has been deemed a “sound labeling technology for LSE plastics”. Polyfuze completely surpasses the performance factors of other decorating methods that utilize adhesives, inks and clear coats.

To explain this new labeling technology simply, for the automotive industry and many other industries attempting to decorate PP or PE based materials, the Polyfuze graphic is polymer-based. Polyfuze technology does not contain adhesives or inks that require surface energy pre-treatments and only requires standard hot stamping equipment for application. Polyfuze is a permanent branding solution that fuses 100% into the subsurface of the part to become one piece of plastic, passing testing for UV, chemicals, fuels, oil, extreme temperatures, weathering, battery acids and more.

When you picture how far we have come from the original innovations of vehicles from innovators like Karl Benz’s first gasoline powered combustion engine car. A car with only 3 wheels, an engine and chassis built as a single unit back in 1885, you start to realize the amazing capabilities of vehicles. However, the capabilities of decorating plastics and the need for new quality standards for labeling automotive plastics and LSE plastics across many industries has also come just as far.

Take a look further at what Polyfuze graphics can do for your plastic components here. Download the Polyfuze Test Data Report here. Or call (928) 634-8888 to have your questions answered.