Ascertaining the Lifespan of Products and Printed Labels

Consumers buy and use products daily with no thought given to the testing required of those products that are needed to ascertain wear and tear. Creating a lasting product, that will meet industry standards, is a benefit to the manufacturer and consumer alike. In the majority of cases, wear testing is done on printed packaging labels, making sure writing stays legible during the shipping process and after a consumer buys the product and handles it frequently. There are also tests for the wear of fabrics used in garments and for materials like aluminum, ceramics, leather, paint, plastics, coatings, floor coverings, and more.

Products tested use a machine called an abrasion or scuff tester. Depending on the material tested, different devices are used to accommodate that specific material and allow the repeated scuffing action to occur. By enabling a manufacturer to speed up the process of repetitive friction, they can learn what materials are best suited to withstand the rigors of its intended use. It can save them money by ruling out materials that will not hold up over continued use and protect the consumer by having critical label information not wear off.

Scuff testing is prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry where drug labeling must be exact. Whether it is on blister packaging, medication bottles, inserts, or on glass bottles, they have a responsibility to keep all printing legible. Drug information and expiration dates are essential information that anyone should be able to read. Standard ink or digitally printed labels are scuff tested in all industries more than any other material since its data is usually critical to proper usage.

Transportation also takes its toll on the material packaging. Friction from the movement of the product during transport, plus fluctuations in temperature and humidity as shipped items cross long distances, factor in to the scuff resistance of the object and its labeling. A product scuff test can be done in-house if the company has the right equipment to accomplish the task. There are testing machines companies can purchase, or they can send out their products to facilities that specialize in all forms of scuff resistance testing.

The type of friction expected to be encountered by a product determines the machine used to test for scuff resistance. Most use a configuration that has a platform for the material to be tested to rest. A cylinder with the abrasive material most resembling the type of wear expected is attached to the bottom. The abrasive could be a surface hard like metal, or soft like a sponge. The cylinder rotates over the material in a circular motion. The machine can be programmed to repeat this rotation for a preset number of times, with a certain level of pressure. The testing enables the manufacturer to see the results be in a matter of hours, allowing them to move forward with the product as is or make necessary changes.