Written By: Noel Daigle
Successful innovation can completely disrupt and irrevocably alter an industry forever, to its benefit.
Take Charles Harrison, for instance. You may or may not know who he is, but during his life, he was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant and innovative minds. An American Industrial Designer, he redesigned and invented many products, and is particularly known as the “father of the plastic garbage can.”
Charles Harrison viewed the world through a different lens. He had dyslexia, but rather than treat it as a hindrance, he used it to propel his innovative brain into devising and reimagining products that he strove to design for intuitive use. Products developed by Harrison functioned in an obvious way, so users were not dependent on reading instructions.
Before his invention for Sears, trash cans were made of metal—heavy and loud. By 1963, developments in plastics manufacturing prompted Harrison to investigate the idea of molding a large receptacle in polypropylene plastic. Harrison’s subsequent design lightened the can, changed it to a modular, rectangular shape, and added wheels for mobility. It became the preferred form, a type still used in urban and suburban settings throughout the country.
Harrison introduced simple changes to an existing design that improved it and disrupted the standards of the waste industry of that time.
Here at Polyfuze Graphics Corporation, sister company to Mold In Graphic Systems, we pride ourselves on holding the same type of innovative mindset that Mr. Harrison displayed throughout his life.
Polymer Fusion Labeling was designed and invented by Michael J. Stevenson, when he, like Mr. Harrison, saw a chance for improvement within an industry.
Mr. Stevenson was working in a durable plastics manufacturing plant when he realized there was a huge problem plaguing the industry: typical labeling technologies such as stickers, hot stamp foils, and in-mold labels were failing miserably on plastics.
This is because the traits that this type of plastic possesses, which makes them an ideal material to be made into all kinds of products, (including waste containers and garbage cans) also makes them impossible to label with traditional labeling technologies.
To explain, garbage cans made from metal had what is called a “high surface energy.”
You can apply a sticker to a metal trash can and it will probably do a fairly good job of staying in place for a long while.
But what happens when you try to put a sticker on a plastic trash can?
Olefin-based plastic (which is what our trash cans are made from) is an excellent material for a garbage can. It has natural properties that make them ideal for this industry. It will inherently resist corrosive substances, will naturally expand with extreme hot/cold temperatures (which helps promote durability), it is resistant to the harsh types of chemical cleanings, repeated sanitizations, and pressure washing. It can withstand years on end of weather and UV exposure. The problem when it comes to labeling, however, is this type of plastic has low surface energy.
In fact, products made from olefin-based plastics have a surface energy level like that of Teflon®.
Nothing wants to stick to them, and they inherently reject incompatible materials.
Whether the labels on the garbage can are branding, contact information, recycling, sanitation, warning, and safety, or possibly even hazardous waste, the result of incompatible labeling technologies that were not designed specifically for low surface energy plastics is label failure. Fading, peeling, cracking, impossible to read, and eventually falling off completely is what you end up without in the field.
Mr. Stevenson designed Polymer Fusion Labeling specifically to overcome the inherent challenges associated with olefin-based, low surface energy plastics. His invention was designed to disrupt and redefine the standards of the labeling industry when it comes specifically to durable, reusable, olefin plastics that have no other solution for reliable labeling.
Polymer Fusion Labeling is made from 100% compatible polymers. No inks, no substrates, no adhesives. These materials are incompatible with plastic and cause failure.
Polymer Fusion Labels are manufactured to your custom specifications and shipped to you on rolls. Using standard stamping equipment, you apply the labels onto your part and the label melts into the subsurface of the plastic, becoming a literal part of the trash can at that point.
Applied properly, the label will never be able to be separated from the plastic surface and can withstand years of abuse, UV and weather exposure, pressure washing, and more.
Please review the test data here.
Polymer Fusion Labeling technology has solved problems for many waste companies and haulers for many years. Roll-out cart manufacturers like Otto Environmental and Rehrig Pacific, haulers like Groot, Trash Taxi, Patriot Waste, and municipalities such as Latrobe Pennsylvania and Midway City Sanitary District.
Ideal Applications Include:
Polyfuze has manufactured thousands of labels including:
“Sure enough, we stamped the Polyfuze Label, then I took a knife to it and it was fused in there! That blew me away! You couldn’t do that with a heat transfer…I can say that our scrap rate, using Polyfuze versus heat transfers, is far less…Once you start using it, it sells itself. – Project Engineer (Rubbermaid Commercial)
“Unfortunately, stickers would only last about a year and were very labor-intensive. Not to mention wasted money and time to apply them in the first place only to have them fall off a year later. Midway City Sanitary District stands for high quality, cost-effective service for their residents, and to help keep rates low, we rely on proper, permanent labeling to help customers place solid waste items in the correct containers.” – Ken Robbins (Midway City Sanitary District)
“I have tried for years to get a multi-color permanent logo on our garbage totes. Polyfuze helped us fulfill this need. Not only is our Trash Taxi logo in full color, but also permanently welded into the plastic of our cart. Thank you, Polyfuze Graphics™ Corporation and Otto Environmental Systems for making this hope a reality.” – Curtis Agius (Trash Taxi)
“Polyfuze has proven to be an invaluable business partner when it comes to decorating Otto containers. The Polyfuze Graphic meets or exceeds the durability standards, appearance requirements, and UV tests of the plastics industry.” – Otto Environmental Systems North America, Inc.
If you are a waste hauler, producer, or end-user of olefin plastic trash cans struggling with labels failing out in the field, Polymer Fusion Labeling was designed to solve the problems you’re experiencing and ensure you only need to label each can one time, for the life of the trash can.
We are also going to be attending the Waste Expo in Las Vegas at the end of this month!
Please feel free to reach out if you are attending also and would like to meet up, or please click here to learn more.