is difficult because there are so many factors to take
into consideration. Staring at a blank sheet
of paper, trying to work up a specification for even something
as simple as a label, is a daunting task. Premax is here
to help. We have years of experience manufacturing decals,
labels, signs, and markers of all kinds. We would like to
make your life easier by given you some things to think about
before you design or choose a marker. For simplicity’s
sake, in the discussion below, labels, decals, signs, and
pole markers --- everything will be referred to as a “marker.” As
you think through these questions remember that there are
usually multiple correct answers. Often there is a trade-off
between price and quality.
and expected service life. Where is the marker
going to be placed? Indoors or outdoors? How long do I expect
the marker to last? Do I want a 60-year life for a temporary
cut-out tag? No, but I surely do for a pole marker. If I
am designing a marker for indoor use, do I want the marker
to be tamper-proof? Am I marking an inventory item or a gas
Use. What are the temperature
extremes that my marker has to endure? How about moisture?
Will the tag
be subject to a regular freeze/thaw cycle? Outdoor markers
that need to last through a year in Minnesota’s climate
face harsh conditions, but these conditions are not the same
as those faced by an outdoor marker in New Mexico where UV
radiation is a constant companion. Indoor markers may have
to be permanent; others may be meant to be easily removed.
Does a marker have to be reflective? Will the marker be subject
Surface of attachment. What will the marker be attached
to? Wood, metal, plastic, galvanized steel, fiberglass? What
are the real conditions of my outside equipment? Is the paint
on my padmounts already chalked, or am I marking brand new
units (that may or may not have a manufacturing residue on
them)? Do I need to prepare the surface by cleaning or a
solvent wipe before affixing a pressure sensitive marker?
Will my field personnel actually go through these preparation
steps? Realistically, what time of year will the marker be
placed outdoors and what are the likely climate conditions
for my service territory? Will the surface of the object
being marked itself exhibit temperature extremes (i.e. transformers)?
Will it be stationary or moveable/moving?
Surface Geometry. As simple as it
sounds, you need to match the marker to the geometry of
the surface it is meant to
marker. Round poles and rigid flat signs do not mix; the
sign needs to be pre-curved or flexible enough to conform
to the pole. Will the surface of attachment change over time?
A pole shrinks in diameter as it weathers, and a good nail
of adequate length with a serrated shank will help prevent
a pole marker from falling off over time merely because the
nail “backs out” of the pole.
Method of Attachment. A good nail
is a good investment if your marker is attached to wood.
Bare steel nails rust; aluminum
nails bend when up against older poles (especially those
treated with CCA). Stainless steel bolts and nuts are best
for substation signs. Cheap cable ties become brittle within
months of being outdoors. S hooks are easy to work with,
and just as easy for a vandal to “un” work with.
When gluing a marker to a steel or aluminum surface, silicone
adhesives are good; certain mastics are better. The adhesives
that may be used on labels and decals is a confusing array,
and careful consideration of all the factors above and below
is a must,
Material Used. Markers are made of metal, plastic, paper,
and composites (laminates). They may be of the bare material,
or they may be enhanced by paint or ink. While metal may
seem to be the best material for outdoor use, there are often
considerations of conductivity that rule out its use. Plastics,
on the other hand, --from fiberglass to vinyl--are all organic
products derived from oil (carbon based). They are linked
polymeric chains, and the bonds between the monomeric molecules
are subject to degradation by UV radiation. (links to Plastics
book and UV sites.). Paper tags are great for temporary,
indoor use, but they do not last outdoors.
So, you see, there is a lot to think
about in the world of markers. Let Premax help you think
through your marking project so that you get the right marker
for the job.