Genuine and Counterfeit Parts Clearly Distinguishable
Just how important the counterfeit-proof marking of genuine parts has become for German industry today is evidenced by a figure published by the VDMA: Lost sales through product piracy amount to some EUR 6.4 billion annually in the German machine and plant construction industry alone. Just how effective a practical marker system can be in the fight against product piracy has been demonstrated by Polysecure GmbH, Freiburg, Germany, at the Motek Fair in Stuttgart, Germany.
With their optical and ceramic markers, it is possible to reliably identify molded parts as genuine supplier products or as forgeries. The plastic material is labeled using a minute quantity of a chemical marker for this purpose. This material is heat-resistant up to 2,000°C, does not affect the material properties and is completely non-toxic as well as insoluble. The markers can be provided with a code containing, for example, information on the year of manufacture or batch number. This encoded information can then be read non-destructively using an x-ray fluorescence spectroscope. The material marker offers decisive advantages, for example in the case of property or personal damage claims regarding products which may not actually stem from the injection molding company’s production.
At Motek, Arburg GmbH & Co. KG, Lossburg, Germany, will provide injection-molded shopping-cart chips of marked and unmarked thermoplastics. At the joint Polysecure and WMV-Robotics exhibition booth, Polysecure’s Brandproof Robot will demonstrate error-free sorting of the chips at high speed. This authentication robot, probably the first of its kind in the world, makes it much simpler to identify genuine parts and distinguish them from fakes, especially as it reliably detects not only unmarked parts, but also parts with incorrect markers. The six-axis robot with pneumatic suction cups transfers the parts from a storage system to an optical detector, which recognizes the marker in the part through its characteristic fluorescence. The authentic parts are then moved to a receiving container and the counterfeit parts separated out. The cycle time is between one and 4 s per molded part. This solution is suited for quality assurance applications in high-volume production for the purpose of product verification during the logistics process prior to installation.
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