Counterfeit plastic materials can be can be extremely costly, as Aston Martin recently found out when it discovered that the accelerator pedals on its cars, were being made from a fake DuPont material. That was just the latest story to come out about the increasing fraud in manufacturing, particularly from unscrupulous suppliers that use cheaper materials in the products they mold for OEMs.
Efforts to stay a step ahead of these material counterfeiters have proven effective with new anti-counterfeiting technologies being developed. There are a number of technologies available including taggants, microscopic chemical or spectral (light) markers that are added to the masterbatches during the compounding stage that result in a unique “signature” for that material. These taggants make it easy for the brand owner to identify their specific material, but extremely difficult for criminals to detect or to replicate.
For many of the pharmaceutical products, brand owners are using label technologies such as in-mold labeling (IML). IML means that the label actually becomes part of the plastic vial, syringe or bottle, making removal of the label impossible without destroying the container. Additionally, label technology allows for spectral identification through the use of a hologram marker on the label that can only be detected under black light or other special lighting conditions.
For Aston Martin, as well as other brand owners whose products require certification for specific engineering thermoplastic materials such as those used in electrical/electronic products (UL certified materials) for high-temperature applications, purchasing materials with special markers is a whole lot more cost effective than dealing with the results of product failures due to unspecified or “counterfeit” materials being used.
Brand owners need to be proactive and work with their material suppliers up front to design anti-counterfeiting measures prior to production. It not only buys you security, it buys you confidence from your customers that what they are getting is the real deal.