You have just won a government contract and in the contract it is calling for you to meet the MIL STD 130 IUID marking requirement but you have some questions. The contract doesn’t specify what material you should be using when you mark the assets with an IUID label. You know that the IUID label, in order for it to be in full compliance with MIL STD 130 and DFARS 252.211-7003 must be readable and adhere to the surface for the life of the asset. How should you determine the proper material to use while still meeting your compliance obligations?
Determining the proper material
Sometimes a contract will call-out exact specifications in terms of the type of material to use but sometimes it doesn’t. In order to best determine the material to use without having to spend unnecessary funds on a material that is more than what you need in terms of durability you should ask these questions.
- What are the environmental conditions that the assets will be exposed to?
- Are the assets going to be outdoors?
- Will they be exposed to the sun?
- Will they be exposed to extreme conditions of heat or cold and if so what are the temperature ranges?
- What chemicals or processes will the items be exposed to?
Once you have the answers to these questions you can move forward with the proper material.
Examples of materials and marking methods
Polyester – One of the most widely used types of materials used to mark assets in conformance with MIL STD 130 is polyester material using a thermal transfer printer for the marking method. The polyester label will have a white background with a black print. This material and marking method is best suited to handle assets that are going to be in a temperature controlled or warehouse type of environment. It should not be used on assets that are going to be exposed to the sun/UV rays which will eventually lead to fading and prevent the readability of the barcode causing eventual non-compliance.
Polyacrylic – For assets that are going to be exposed to a more challenging environment such as the outdoors or extreme cold or heat conditions, a polyacrylic material using a laser etching process is highly recommended. This material and marking method essentially eliminates the possibility of fading and can withstand temperatures from -58 degrees to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Polyacrylic material is also chemical, and abrasion resistant while also being tamper-evident. The polyacrylic material will have a black background with a white laser-etched mark.
Photo Anodized Aluminum – If you have assets that are going to be exposed to the most extreme conditions such as cold or heat that exceed the capabilities of polyacrylic material or for heavy exposure to harsh or abrasive chemicals or processes, you should use a photo anodized aluminum material. The material has a light gray background with a black print. The anodizing process completely protects the black print from chemicals, abrasions or extreme temperatures. With photo anodized aluminum you also have the option, depending on the thickness to rivet the tag to the asset rather than using an adhesive.
Polyester, Polyacrylic and Photo Anodized Aluminum are the most common materials for IUID labels and account for the lion share of the labels that we manufacture. However, there are other material types that can be used for specific use cases such as metalized polyester and foil. Let us know if you have a specific situation that warrants a custom material and we would be happy to discuss the options with you. We can also send free samples out to ensure that you select the appropriate material.
Remember, your IUID labels must be in compliance for the life of the asset you are marking! This means that your IUID labels must adhere to the surface and be readable for the lifetime of the asset. Being able to determine the environmental conditions of the assets you are marking is crucial to identifying the correct material to fulfill your IUID compliance requirement. You do not want your customer coming back to you a year later complaining that the label you marked an asset with is now out of compliance due to fading or some other issue.
Make sure that your organization is fully compliant from the beginning and that you are properly marking and labeling all of the assets with an appropriate IUID label before you ship them to the government. To learn more about IUID labels that will keep you audit-ready to all military standards watch our recent on-demand webinar here. This free webinar will outline the information that you need to include, the advantages of different types of materials and marking methods for your label, as well how to register your items and stay fully compliant so that you can pass the inevitable DCMA audit.