So, you’ve been tasked with developing a print or drawing for a machine tag. It’s very common right now that this task falls on someone in engineering, marketing or product management.
With so many workforces stretched thin, the job of creating a rating tag, logo plate or any form of identification tends to fall on who might have the most time to do so. We often see product identification designs that are copied from other parts that have been previously used, but the new tags are for a completely different purpose. If you aren’t experienced in identification design, it is very easy to over/under engineer the tag, either result could cost your company money in the end. Here’s a few quick and easy questions to answer before getting too deep in your design.
What message does your tag need to convey?
Your machine tag may simply need to display your company logo or it might detail pertinent information for running the machine it is attached to. It may need to be registered with and show UL certification or a UID for a mil-spec job. Whatever it may be, it is important to know all of the information that will be needed on the tag in order to properly design for size and readability.
What environment will your tag experience?
What your machine tag will be exposed to is very important in picking the correct materials for creating the tag and how the tag will need to be printed. Will it be indoors or outdoors? Will it be exposed to temperature extremes? Will it need to be resistant to chemicals or cleaning solutions? Knowing the answer to these questions can help you decide whether the tag should be metal or plastic, and whether it will require chemical resistant over laminates or specific inks/enamels.
How are you going to attach the tag to the machine?
Where are you going to put the machine tag on your product? Will this require holes to rivet the tag in the desired location? Are you going to attach it with industrial adhesive? The environment the tag is going to end up in could dictate this, but so could the finish of the machine. Certain adhesives don’t work well with powder coats and textured finishes. The size and material of a machine tag can also determine what adhesive might be needed and so can the temperature range in which the tag will be exposed. There’s no point in putting the machine tag on your product if it isn’t going to stay there, but there’s also no reason in paying for a Cadillac adhesive when a standard stock adhesive will do the job.
There are a few other things to consider. How long the tag needs to last? Will the tag be marked with information at a later date from supplier production (i.e. serial number, manufacture date)? Is the tag a supportive piece for the machine’s structure? Even the quantity run of a tag can dictate the most cost-effective way to fabricate the machine tag and in turn could affect decisions on size and materials.
The best way to keep from over/under engineering your machine tag is to know the answers to the questions above and contact your printing supplier before final design. That specialist builds tags for a living, they are going to be able to help you design the tag to perform its job in the most cost-effective way possible. It may call for a little extra time in the design stage, but it will surely save a lot of time and money in the end.
We all know the hassles of getting a print revised and you certainly don’t want the machine tag to fail in the field.