Proliferation of counterfeit goods spreads mayhem in businesses globally. Counterfeit and pirated goods are estimated to drain US$1 trillion from the global economy and rob more than 2.5 million people of legitimate jobs worldwide, as per Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce. New developments meets the needs of the packaging industry for brand protection with anti-counterfeiting resins, percept technologies, taggants, etc.
A taggant can mean a radio frequency microchip used in automated identification and data capture. In such cases, electronic devices use radio waves to track and identify items, such as pharmaceutical products, by assigning individual serial numbers to the containers holding each product. This technology may prevent the diversion or counterfeiting of drugsby allowing wholesalers and pharmacists to determine the identity and dosage of individual products. A taggant is also a chemical or physical marker added to materials to allow various forms of testing. It is believed that they generally consist of microscopic particles built up in many layers, which are made of different materials. It is a somewhat secretive process, but products that may be affected include ink, paper, perfume, and medication. Taggants allow testing marked items for qualities such as lot number and concentration (to test for dilution, for example). In particular, taggants are known to be widely used in plastic, sheet and flexible explosives.
Plastics Color Corp's new development meets the needs of the packaging industry through a multilayered approach to brand protection with it's MiBatch™ anti-counterfeting resins. This new anti-counterfeiting technology for thermoplastics delivers major advantages for the packaging industry when it comes to risk mitigation, supply chain security, and corporate governance. MiBatch™ was developed as an extremely cost-effective anti-counterfeiting measure enabling manufacturers and retailers to protect brand identity and ensure supply chain integrity. MiBatch™ technology uses covert chemical or visual markers called taggants that promote anti-counterfeiting by providing a unique fingerprint to the packaging or product. Because the taggant provides a unique "marker", they can protect the OEM or brand owner from costly recalls, repairs, and even litigation by providing proof of the product's authenticity. Tagging the product and the plastic packaging offers double security. Since this is an anti-counterfeiting taggant that is placed in the material itself – whether in the plastic packaging or the plastic product – authentication can be done at every level of the supply chain. These markers are created through spray pyrolysis during the manufacturing process. This patented process produces spherical particles over a wide range of compositions so that there is homogeneous composition control. This is considered a proactive approach to security and risk management. These unique taggants are compatible with a wide variety of resins to impart an extremely high level of security and verification. These taggants are easy to authenticate but very difficult for criminals to detect and replicate. They function consistently under wide-ranging environmental conditions without affecting product performance, and each customer's unique taggant signature can be consistently produced at any volume. Taggants are added to plastic masterbatches during the compounding process. Plastics Color custom formulates these markers for each client. XRF (X-ray fluorescence) and laser detection equipment (handheld or inline) is employed to “read” the embedded taggant signature and verify authenticity of the polymer, product, or component. The detection systems are tuned to look for specific elements and combinations for the unique taggant. If an OEM is having issues with supply chain security, MiBatch is an effective solution that provides authentication tools for each step of the process. OEMs are able to work with their specific security gaps and take a proactive approach to hindering counterfeiting issues from within; whether from production facilities, packaging facilities, or via the shipping process.
PolyOne Thermoplastic Elastomers' Versaflex CE TPE materials for consumer electronics are now available in combination with Percept Authentication Technologies. These new material has been developed to help brand owners combat counterfeiting and reduce the risks associated with fraudulent goods such as phone cases, smart watches, headphones, earbuds and other wearable electronics. Percept technologies can be shaped to fit a wide variety of processing conditions, end-use applications, and authentication techniques based on overt, covert, or forensic-based approaches. The solutions enable brand owners to readily identify counterfeit products with easy-to-use methods based on additives and unique identifiers called taggants. As per Polyone in plasticsnews.com, when designing innovative consumer products, it is extremely important to protect brand equity, differentiated offering and overall revenues. This new solution combines Percept's anti-counterfeiting ability with the haptics and durability of Versaflex CE TPEs. In 2013, the US Department of Homeland Security logged US$145 mln worth of counterfeit consumer electronics entering the country, and this material was developed to help counteract the trend. This offering is less a product than a service, designed to help companies to protect revenues and lower the risks involved with being associated with poorly made or unsafe products. All Percept solutions are delivered to the polymer via a masterbatch solution, which can include pigment, additives (performance or otherwise), as well as some form of taggant or tracer technology. PolyOne expects to work closely with companies, on a case-by-case basis, to determine the potential risks, including loss of revenue, brand damage and product liability exposure, and then propose a suitable, customized approach. PolyOne is partnering with other vendors and service providers so that they also can provide, for example, the necessary scanners or identifying tools necessary to analyze a product that uses covert authentication technology.
There is no limitation on the type of polymer carriers that can incorporate taggants, but he also noted that not all taggants are applicable for all end-use products. The pharmaceutical/ healthcare market as one keenly interested in such authentication technologies, since altered or fake drugs obviously can have devastating consequences. Electrical/electronics and other types of packaging (food and beverage, personal care, cosmetics, etc.) also are key target sectors.
As per Ptonline.com, two companies recently announced developments in high-security anti-counterfeit taggant additives that can be compounded into plastics. A new series of taggants has been launched by Sachtleben Chemie of Germany (U.S. office in White Plains, N.Y.), a major producer of titanium dioxide pigments as well as barium sulfate and zinc-based functional additives. The security particles are detectable only using special analytical procedures and can be incorporated directly into plastics products through direct compounding or via masterbatches. The particles are said to be approved for use in contact with foodstuffs (including Kosher and Halal foods).
In addition, an existing supplier of such taggants, Microtrace, LLC of Minneapolis, announced recent enhancements to its Microtaggant technology as well as several ready-to-use solutions for product security and brand protection. The enhancements are said to make this he most robust traceable, anti-counterfeit technology available. The taggants are uniquely encoded for each customer. In its most basic form, the Microtaggant is a unique numeric code sequence in a multi-colored layer format. In more complex form, it provides multiple layers of security through incorporation of several nano-taggant technologies in a single microscopic particle. Verification and detection is done with a variety of inexpensive hand-held readers and scanners. The taggants are available in dry particle form for compounding or as a finished masterbatch. The taggants can be used in a variety of plastic resins and colors, with no change in processing conditions.