Equipment used in the aerospace and military industries require highly durable parts, including their ID labels and nameplates. Inferior materials just won’t make the cut, with abrasion, corrosion, extreme temperatures, and UV exposure causing degradation and loss of readability.
As such, the aerospace and defense industries have set stringent requirements for industrial labels and nameplates, including durability requirements as well as specific information required for nameplates, depending on the type of equipment. Durable labels and nameplates can display barcodes, serial numbers, health and safety warnings, and other critical information for a very long time.
Several materials have sufficient quality to meet the requirements of aerospace and defense applications. The list includes aluminum, stainless steel, brass, and some plastics. One unique material that warrants special mention is Metalphoto®.
What is Metalphoto?
Metalphoto is a special type of photosensitive anodized aluminum. It’s lightweight, extremely durable, and resistant to UV, abrasion, corrosion, chemicals, temperature, and extreme weather conditions. It’s a highly recommended label material for military, aerospace, aviation, marine, construction, and various industries.
Invented in 1958, Metalphoto has been certified to be used in diverse applications, including aerospace and defense. In a 2011 environmental sustainability report of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division, Metalphoto got the highest score among IUID (Item Unique Identification) label materials. Moreover, the National Association of Graphic and Product Identification Manufacturers (GPI) has tagged Metalphoto as the most durable among aluminum substrates.
Why Use Durable Labels and Nameplates
Here are 6 reasons why durable labels and nameplates are a must in the aerospace and defense industries:
1. Abrasion Resistance
As labels are regularly subjected to abrasion due to touching, surface-to-surface contact, or exposure to harsh elements, they could be prone to eventual wear-and-tear. Over time, instructions or ID marks printed on them could become distorted or unreadable. For critical aerospace and defense equipment, this poses serious safety concerns.
For permanent identification, it’s crucial then that labels and nameplates must be abrasion-resistant. The Metalphoto process ensures that the printed text or image of the label is well-sealed under a sapphire-hard anodic layer.
2. Corrosion Resistance
Harsh environments can readily cause material degradation. Especially in hot, moist conditions, the equipment can be prone to corrosion. If there’s acidity or the presence of saltwater, expect corrosion to take place at a faster rate. Unless there are proactive measures taken to stop the spread of corrosion, it will be hard to stop the process until the entire material has completely degraded. As such, corrosion resistance is a required characteristic for any durable nameplate materials.
3. High Resistance to Extreme Temperatures and UV
The atmosphere is made of several layers, each with distinct conditions. At the stratosphere layer (which ends at 50 km above ground), the air is hotter due to ozone particles absorbing the sun’s UV rays. This is the zone where jet aircraft and weather balloons fly. At the mesosphere (between 50 to 85 km above ground), the air could plummet to an average temperature of -90°C.
Higher up is the thermosphere layer (from 90 km to roughly 1,000 km above ground). Here, temperatures could soar to as high as 1,500°C. This is where space shuttles fly, and the ISS (International Space Station) orbits the planet.
Such extreme conditions can deteriorate ordinary nameplates and labels. For instance, high temperatures can distort labels, render printed information unreadable, or cause adhesive failure. Printed surfaces also fade in direct sunlight or prolonged exposure to UV rays. Thus, high-temp resistant labels and nameplates provide the best solution for aerospace and defense assets deployed in extreme temperature and weather conditions.
Metalphoto is well-suited for making custom labels and nameplates. Manufacturers can design labeling components to the exact specifications of the customer, like thickness, size, shape, colors, pattern, and type of finish.
There are additional choices for durable metal labels or plastic labels that also meet industry standards for aerospace and defense applications. Use this checklist to determine the best label material for your specific application and specifications.
5. Certified According to Industry and Military Standards
Labels and nameplates must be designed according to industry and military standards. Metalphoto is certified by leading aerospace companies and defense organizations, like Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, BF Goodrich Aerospace, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, NASA, as well as the US Navy and the US Armed Forces.
As a label material, Metalphoto meets (and even exceeds) numerous specifications, like MIL-STD-130, MIL-A-8625F, MIL-DTL-15024FG, A-A-50271, GGP-455B(3), ASTM B209-14, and individual requirements set by UL, CSA, WEEE, ECHA, Boeing, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin. For defense departments, government organizations, and manufacturers, Metalphoto has been the material of choice for labels and nameplates for more than six decades.
6. Permanently Readable
Even in the presence of abrasion, corrosive elements, intense sunlight, UV, or extreme temperatures, the printed images or texts of durable labels and nameplates must remain readable at all times.
Again, Metalphoto is the prime example here. With its exceptional resolution and high contrast, it’s ideal for permanent equipment labels, remaining readable even under the harshest conditions and challenging applications and offers an expected outdoor lifespan of 20 years or more. Thanks to high-contrast graphics, Metalphoto nameplates and labels provide excellent resolution and can be scaled up without loss of detail.
MPC’s durable labels and nameplates are made to last. Our durable labels and nameplates provide permanent marking and identification that meets industry and regulatory standards for aerospace and defense equipment.