To some, associating the word plastic with the word industrial may seem like a conflict. But not necessarily. Among the wide variety of plastic substrates, some are appropriate for use in industrial applications and can sometimes be the better option. Let’s begin by considering the following qualifiers for plastic industrial product labels.
What is the product?
Is it an appliance, tool, machine, electrical component or other type of equipment?
The answer will very often indicate whether or not materials like polycarbonate, PVC, polyester, polypropylene, ABS or other plastic label substrates will be appropriate. In this instance, it’s appropriate because the substrate material meshes with the needs of production, application, style and desired appearance.
What will be the product’s environment?
The primary question is, will the product be used indoor or outdoor? Will the appliance/machine/equipment be in a manufacturing setting, an office or possibly in a home? Will the label or tag be exposed to heat, abrasion, solvents/cleaners or ultra-violet light/sunlight?
What is the expected life of the product?
Every product has what would be considered a “useful life” or period of time within which it will be serviceable. Correspondingly, all the components of a product are chosen anticipating the timeframe of the product’s’ serviceability.
Given the answers to these questions, we can help coach you in the selection of the right substrate for industrial product labels. Most plastic labels, tags, decals or even nameplates are mounted with engineered, permanent, pressure sensitive adhesive backing. Depending upon the product and the environment, plastic may or may not be considered a stable material.
For applications where the useful life cycle of a product is longer or its environment is more challenging, customers often choose metal for equipment nameplates, tags or industrial product labels.
Metal is the more stable of substrates and is especially suited for situations where the possibility of abrasion, solvents or cleaners, and exposure to UV light is present. Needless to say, metal equipment nameplates and tags are critical when exposure to heat is a factor in the environment of the product’s use.
Foil labels may be a suitable choice for situations where a “medium term” useful life is desired. They are a good option where some solvent, some heat, or fade resistance properties are needed. Anodized foil labels are often specified for Military Spec, UID, and QR codes for nameplates and tags. A limiting factor for the use of adhesive backed foil labels may be the heat resistance of the adhesive backing which generally runs in the 200° to 400°F range.
A product, appliance, or machine with a useful life of 5 years, 10 years or more would likely be considered a long term durable good. In these instances, heavier gauges of aluminum or steel, 20mil/30mil/60mil, can provide more permanent identification. Nameplates and labels for these applications are often designed to be mounted mechanically with screws, rivets or studs to exceed the limitations of adhesives. Metal nameplates, tags and placards offer many options and can be engineered to provide a desired permanency.