Color Pigments Identify Counterfeits
Copies of products and counterfeit products (often called knock-offs) are estimated to cause economic damage valued at about 250 billion US dollars worldwide. Counterfeit products are responsible not only for economic losses, but can also endanger the health of the customer, for instance, in the case of counterfeit medications or replacement parts for automobiles.
Gerresheimer Wilden GmbH is now offering a new, concealed approach to security in the form of laser-verifiable color pigments that were developed by 3M. The pigments can be added to the raw material, plastic pellets, for instance, or incorporated during the fabrication process. It is likewise possible to apply them to the finished product during flexographic or screen printing. The identification is invisible. Authorized individuals can identify products quickly and reliable with the aid of a special laser source ("Verifier").
Working together with 3M and KraussMaffei, Gerresheimer Wilden has implemented this technology in real-world applications. In a pilot project, the pigments were incorporated into a PP used to manufacture caps for use with syringes. To ensure uniform distribution of the small amount of pigment in the PP carrier material, a co-rotating twin-screw extruder with a special processing section was employed. Based on the experience gained during this project, integrated product authentication can now be put into practice for mass production of small items.
During production, the compounding step can be integrated into the injection molding process. The machine technology needed for this is already available. Using an injection molding compounder (IMC) from KraussMaffei, the material can be compounded in a twin-screw extruder and then fed directly to the injection molding process for production of molded parts. Intermediate operations such as pelletizing and packaging can be dispensed with.