Rel8 launches tech for direct plastic part marking in US

Denmark's Rel8 has launched a direct part marking (DPM) technology – called imZERT – that allows barcodes as small as 1mm across to be printed onto plastic components.

According to the company, the imZERT technology arranges nanostructures into barcodes using standard lithographic methods, then engraves them into the moulds for elastomer and plastic components.

The resulting codes are more compact and crisp than those that can be achieved using traditional methods such as laser engraving, and can be applied to any type or colour of plastic during the moulding process, according to Rel8. Most marking methods apply after moulding or even after assembly.

"Historically, small plastic components have largely been left out of the tracking loop because marking them was either unfeasible or cost-prohibitive," according to Guggi Kofod, the Danish company's chief executive.

"Our method addresses this hurdle by integrating nanostructures via small, standardised steel pins into an injection mould."

The codes can help identify the source of faulty parts or ingredients in the supply chain, facilitate product recalls, and aid in the identification of counterfeits. They can be read in the field using a smartphone, as well as standard barcode readers and software.

imZERT was initially developed to prevent manufacturing errors when a device or component manufacturer switches from black to white polymers for minuscule components and minimise issues stemming from product updates.

Rel8 is targeting the DPM platform to automotive suppliers and medical device companies in the first instance, according to a statement from Code Corp, which provides barcode scanning software development kits (SDKs).

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