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Lowering Total Applied Cost of Nameplates

Polycarbonate Replacement Improves Label Performance

Nameplate Applications

A global manufacturer of highly durable residential- and commercial-grade outdoor power equipment had outgrown its longstanding choice of branding nameplates for its popular product lines ranging from snow throwers to riding and push mowers. The OEM, which prints in-house, asked FLEXcon if they could help devise a better solution that would improve application efficiency, outdoor label performance, and total costs. Under no circumstances could this solution sacrifice aesthetics, which is critical to the brand and the consumers’ perception of the products’ long-lasting quality. Members of FLEXcon’s technical, marketing, and sales teams were invited to visit one of the manufacturer’s plant locations to walk the production lines to seek opportunities for process or material improvement.

During the visit, the FLEXcon team saw that the OEM was utilizing sheeted polycarbonate nameplates for its brand identification labels. Polycarbonate material was originally chosen because of its durability. However, the polycarbonate was costly and the manufacturing process required to produce sheeted nameplates was time-consuming and labor intensive. At the plant, production personnel complained that sheeted material was difficult to remove from its backing, resulting in added handling time and increased scrap. Finally, plant personnel complained that discarded backing sheets were littering the production area.

 

Production of the polycarbonate nameplate material required a three-step process. First, the graphics were reverse printed via screenprinting on the back of a polycarbonate sheet. Then a transfer adhesive was laminated to the back of the printed sheet. Finally, the sheet was die cut to create individual nameplates.

Several Problems were Associated with this Approach:

Cost

Polycarbonate is expensive—not only the material, but also the costs associated with scrap left over from die cutting, as well as the additional labor and processing involved in a multi-step production process.

Nameplate Applications

Label Damage

After die cutting, the sheeted labels must be stored in containers and handled individually when the nameplate is attached to the end product, increasing the potential for the nameplates to be dropped, damaged, contaminated with dirt and grease, or lost on the shop floor.

UV Degradation

While polycarbonate resists impact and abrasion, it discolors in the face of prolonged exposure to UV sunlight, causing the manufacturer’s nameplate – and its brand image – to degrade over time.

FLEXcon was able to present the OEM with a pressure-sensitive label solution that addressed this nameplate challenge. FLEXcon identified an ideal set of materials within its FLEXcon® FLEXmark® and DPM® (Durable Product Marking) product lines.

The graphics would be printed directly on a FLEXmark® Vinyl base film, and protected from weathering and abrasion by DPM® CVE clear polyolefin overlaminate. DPM® CVE features an embossed “velvet” texture, similar to the textured surface of the more costly polycarbonate. The selfadhesive label stock eliminated the need to apply a transfer tape and could be printed flexographically in roll form, replacing the three-step operation with a single-pass process. The durability and scratch resistance of the new product construction is as good as or better than the old polycarbonate product.

The New Materials and Process Offered the Following Advantages:

Aesthetics

The OEM agreed that the velvet finish and superior gloss of the DPM® nameplates provided greater visibility and eye appeal to their brand identification graphics.

UV Performance

With the superior UV resistance of the DPM® solution, the OEM was confident the nameplates would retain their appearance long after the consumer had purchased the product.

Easy to Handle

The new nameplates were converted in roll form rather than individual sheets. As a result, production personnel reported that the new nameplates were much easier to handle and reduced scrap because there was no longer a need to handle individual labels. The housekeeping issue associated with sheeted backing material littering the production area was eliminated. Additionally, delivery in roll form provides protection against scratching and other damage, as each label is protected by the material wrapped over it in the roll.

Reduced Total Costs

Less expensive materials, paired with in-line, roll-to-roll flexographic printing (which is less expensive than screenprinting) and overlaminating make the new nameplate labels less expensive to produce.

Durable goods require durable brand identity labels that are attractive and remain readable and intact over the life of the product. The FLEXcon team worked closely with this OEM to thoroughly understand their end use requirements and nameplate application processes. Then they relied on FLEXmark® Vinyl and DPM® CVE overlaminate to devise a solution offering reduced cost, improved performance, and enhanced aesthetics.