Off-shore marine cranes experience some of the most extreme environmental conditions seen in nearly any marine environment. In the middle of the ocean, these structures are exposed to constant sunlight, salt spray, pounding waves, and changing weather patterns. But, even under these less-than-perfect operating conditions, these cranes still must perform safely for thousands of hours each year and for many years of service. In the process, the equipment itself undergoes normal levels of damage (i.e., typical wear and tear) that must be maintained and repaired, such as corrosion and abrasion.
But wear and tear aside, there are other very important features of the rigs that must be maintained, including the control panels, tags, and nameplates which are used on all the supporting equipment within. Being able to read your instruments properly is not an option, so your control panels must be durable enough to last. For over 50 years, Metalphoto® photosensitive anodized aluminum has been trusted as the leading material for use in applications requiring permanent identification.
Metalphoto has been a specified material for use in a wide range of applications such as nameplates, component labels, schematics, control panels, and barcode labels for decades. The following is a list of the main benefits of Metalphoto and why it’s the material of choice for marine crane control panels.
The proprietary process for making Metalphoto components involves the sealing of a UV-stable image inside of anodized aluminum. This allows the Metalphoto to exhibit the strength characteristics of the aluminum, including resistance to chemicals, heat, abrasion, salt spray, and sunlight. Metalphoto labels, nameplates, and control panels have an expected lifespan of greater than 20 years in outdoor applications. In fact, the National Association of Graphic and Product Identification Manufacturers (GPI) Industry Standards and Practices Manual identifies Metalphoto photosensitive anodized aluminum as the most durable printed aluminum substrate available.
The sealing process of Metalphoto images affords an ultra-high resolution and high level of contrast. For this reason, it is ideally suited for labeling components requiring small font sizes and high levels of detail such as control panels. Metalphoto can also be scaled to fit very large-sized equipment without a loss in detail. Recent advancements have allowed anti-counterfeit security printing to be done for some applications, adding another layer of security and protection.
Traditional etch and fill processes performed on stainless steel component labels have a noticeably higher cost and longer lead time compared to Metalphoto. The streamlined processing of Metalphoto leads to sizeable cost reductions of approximately 10 to 20% over etched stainless steel. In addition, Metalphoto converters can process components with a rapid turnaround.
Anyone who works in this industry knows that control panels are often complex and can involve changes in thickness and shape to fit unique contours in the equipment design. Metalphoto has a number of flexible design properties and supports thicknesses beyond the range of 0.020” to 0.125”, measurements typical of many off-shore crane component labeling applications. This range offers added flexibility, guaranteeing that the control panels will fit the specifications of your equipment.
Acid etching is an alternative process for creating metal control panels and other labeled components, but it’s also one that seems to be on its way out. The reason for the declining popularity is that acid etching is a harsh treatment, and the use of acid etchers is declining as more stringent environmental regulations are enacted. The Metalphoto process can be operated sustainably and with minimal environmental impact making it an important choice for wider adoption. Metalphoto components are also recyclable, allowing them to re-enter the material stream at the end of their lifetime.
Metaphoto has been certified for use across a wide range of applications and meets specifications from a number of commercial, government, and military regulations. Some of the most significant certifications are MIL-STD-130N, STANAG 2290, GGP-455B(3) Type I, MIL-DTL15024F, MIL-P-19834B, and A-A-50271, among many others.
Metalphoto has gained wide adoption in the maritime industry by offering a lower cost, rapid lead time, and highly durable alternative to traditional component labeling materials. Offshore marine crane applications represent the perfect use case for Metalphoto component labeling. The material is well-suited for the high resolution and flexible design requirements of control panels used in this industry. Coupled with its robust durability, Metalphoto control panels are the ideal choice for offshore marine cranes and other marine applications.