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Laser-markable compound preferred to in-mould decoration in cable tie tool

RTP Company : 18 May, 2013  (Application Story)
Custom injection moulder New Berlin Plastics was recently approached by HellermannTyton, a manufacturer of high-quality cable management products, for in help producing an innovative cable tie tool. The material needed to be strong enough for the small teeth on the tool’s plastic tension knob, and be able to be imprinted with a graduated number scale.

Berlin Plastics worked with custom compounder RTP to custom-engineer a laser-markable compound that met the tensile strength and printing requirements of the application.

New Berlin met with HellermannTyton to discuss the most effective and efficient way for applying the graduated number scale to the tool’s tension knob. HellermannTyton’s ideas included printing the numbers directly on the plastic, using in-mould decorating, or attaching a printed adhesive sticker. Based on their knowledge and experience, however, New Berlin Business Development
Manager, Dave Sansone and Director of Engineering, Mike Miller knew that none of these technologies were best for the application.

Miller explained that "Laser-marking the numeric scale was a much better solution, avoiding the time consuming challenge of printing, the high scrap rates that would have been associated with in-mould decoration, and the physical challenge of precisely affixing a small, 0.25 inch (6 mm) wide sticker."

Based on New Berlin's recommendation, HellermannTyton gave the go-ahead to team with RTP and begin the process of specifying an appropriate material.

After careful testing and evaluation, RTP Company furnished a custom glass fibre reinforced RTP 600 Series ABS compound that provided the required tensile strength for the cable tie tool's tension knob. A matched RTP 6042 Series thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) was then overmolded on the knob to provide an ergonomic gripping surface. The TPE compound was formulated to bond with the rigid ABS substrate for optimum product integrity.

RTP colourists added laser-marking additives and colourants chosen for their compatibility with the ABS compound and the operational range of the laser being used. This allowed the laser to clearly "write" an indelible, high contrast white mark on the black plastic surface. "The laser-marked numbers are very durable and will hold up for the life of the product," added Miller.

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