1. Salt Water Durable Label Exceeds UL Requirement
ALI was approached by a customer to create a label for fire extinguishers that could endure offshore seawater exposure.
Our Technical Services Division developed a labeling system that exceeds UL 299 requirements for Fire Extinguisher labeling. The UL 299 standard only requires the labeling system to endure salt spray test of 240 hours. Our customer established the benchmark requesting the label to be capable of enduring a salt spray test over 2,000 hours.
To accomplish this multilayered construction we had to source an adhesive and lamination that first could endure exposure beyond a 2,000 hour test. Once our technical team confirmed the best materials, we still had to confirm the materials ability to permanently bond to a curved surface without lifting and returning to its original flat state. Utilizing our lab, as well as our customer’s testing laboratory, preliminary testing was done to validate the multilayered surface and its ability to remain securely bonded to a powder coated curved surface.
The label construction is now listed for use under our UL certification directory. In addition, these materials can be considered for additional seawater applications; therefore, extending the value of this UL certified listing for future uses.
2. Material Compatibility “Outgassing”
A customer approached ALI with an existing problem that affected the aesthetics and durability of the label. The customer suffered with long term problems where white blotches would appear after an overlaminate was applied to a thermal printed label. The construction of the label required a two part construction to print variable information and seal it with an overlaminate to provide long term durability. After the materials were combined, the white blotches would appear within a few days.
The label appeared to show out-gassing as this labeling system was being applied to an extruded plastic housing with inherent out-gassing qualities. It was determined that adequate time was being allowed between plastic extrusion and when the labels were applied for out-gassing to finish leaching out. This confirmed that out-gassing could not possibly be the root cause of the white blotches.
Further research determined the materials were incompatible resulting in bubbles being trapped within the layers of the label. The root cause was determined to be incompatible surface tension resulting in the prevention of the adhesives ability to wet out. Once the root cause was isolated we were able to find a UL approved combination of materials within our UL certified directory that improved adhesive wet out; therefore, increasing the attraction between the two materials, eliminating the bubbles.
3. Superior Print Processes
ALI is constantly faced with the challenge to lower the cost of durable labels while at the same time keeping the same or improved durability. For years, many engineering drawings specifically call out screen printing as the print method. Historically, screen printing has been the durable print method of choice. However, some applications reveal drawbacks when screen printed, such as lead time for large quantity orders and expensive costs to incorporate variable content.
Our Technical Services Department takes great pride in the research completed to validate new materials and ink systems that meet or exceed the outdoor durability of screen printed labels. Lightfast and weatherability testing has been completed by third party labs across multiple accelerated methods such as; Carbon Arc, QUV and Xenon weatherability testing. These accelerated tests resulted in successfully converting parts from screen printing to ultra light fast flexographic print systems with a proven track record of success. We are proud to offer these advancements to yield superior outdoor durability, shorter turnaround times, and improved economic value. We can give you a 10, 20 or 30 year outdoor durability, depending upon construction.
4. Synthetic Outdoor Durability
Not all labeling applications require adhesive. An existing customer requested a labeling system that could be UV resistant and breathable, while having a temperature range that is strong enough to endure high heat laserjet printing. The total labeling system is then expected to pass a 5,000 hour Xenon weather chamber which simulates accelerated outdoor exposure to sunlight and temperature shifts.
ALI researches and tests new and existing materials in the laboratory to qualify many materials for specific applications. With this knowledge, ALI was able to source a synthetic material with a temperature range capable of enduring the laser jet fusing process, yet remain breathable. The end result produced a printable label that successfully enabled the customer to apply a thick layer of adhesive that could cure through the breathable surface and successfully bond to metal and wooden application surfaces.
5. Die Cut Components / Insulators
ALI was challenged to produce a round, durable, electrical insulator with pressure sensitive adhesive on one side for use in capacitors. The electrical insulator must be uniform in texture, color and finish, be clean, smooth and free of imperfections detrimental to appearance and performance. The material must also be able to perform within a continuous operating temperature of 40° C to 110° C. Aesthetic appearance is also an important requirement demanding that the disk have color pigmentation extended through the material so when it’s die cut, no other color will show through.
By staying current and knowledgeable of existing and newly developed materials and unique qualities, ALI’s Technical Services Department was able to source a special electrical insulating material with a manufacturer’s approved UL listing that is able to withstand the temperature and performance requirements. ALI then laminated a special transfer adhesive to the back of the material that is also able to withstand the same requirements as the disk. Using new equipment and technology that checks for any imperfections, ALI is able to produce the insulator defect free for the customer on a continuous roll.
By choosing a material with existing UL approvals, the amount of initial testing required is considerably reduced, enabling the disk to be immediately approved for production.
6. On-Demand Durable Serial Plate Labeling
Hand held power tools create a unique challenge in durable labeling applications because of their inherent demanding surroundings. ALI was asked to create a serial plate label that would contain static and variable information which would be heat resistant and remain legible when exposed to gasoline or other solvents. The largest challenge was to create a label that would remain intact throughout the life of the power tool, while being exposed to dirty and grueling environments.
A durable label material was selected with an aggressive permanent adhesive and a thermally imprintable liner. The variable information was then thermally printed onto the liner with a durable ribbon with a window exposing the bar code information. The variable information is then dispensed with the label, allowing the adhesive around the window to seal the label. The entire label is then protected by an additional overlamination giving it further durability. Final laboratory testing confirmed the durability of the label for long term use.
7. Non-Conductive Water Splash Guarding
At ALI, our manufacturing capabilities far exceed day to day production of pressure sensitive labels. In many cases we extend our value to our customers by improving previous manufacturing parts.
A large manufacturer of commercial and residential appliances was in need of a non-conductive “shield” to serve as a barrier to protect against water inside large appliances. The shield would need to be a good barrier while being flexible to easily adhere in place with a specialty adhesive. The part must be easily applied with a specialty adhesive, remain flexible and serve as an effective seal.
Our Technical Services Department was able to identify and verify an electrical grade plastics material that could be die cut in-line to be converted with ease while allowing internal cut-outs to allow access to wiring terminals. The shield is used in a high-volume assembly line process and must be applied quickly. The addition of a high bond transfer adhesive enables quick installation on-site and removes the need for screws and rivets that created a “Bottle-neck” in the assembly line.
8. Durable Label for Rubber Surface
A customer’s engineer approached ALI requesting an improved labeling method that would enable full traceability molded into the underside of a rubber mat. The customer was experiencing durability, efficiency and print clarity issues with their existing label method. Adding to the challenge is the proprietary knowledge and chemical make-up of the rubber being used. The customer was unable to give the proprietary information to ALI to solve the problem and no sample application surfaces were released to ALI for internal testing.
Based on the lack of information, ALI was only given a few choices of materials that were known to bond with the rubber. ALI was able to source a specialized material, manufactured to the exact requirements for proper bonding. Due to the high heat used in the manufacturing process, additional heat shielding was needed to protect the label during the bonding process. ALI was able to utilize our knowledge of various materials to source a specialized liner suitable for additional heat shielding purposes. The customer worked to test multiple samples until the best material was confirmed with consistent results. Once the label material was verified, the print method and ink was configured to endure the high heat bonding process. The result is a successful labeling solution that improved the overall traceability, durability and efficiency of the customer’s labeling process that cannot be removed from the mat.