Brand Protection and Authentication Enabled By Frangible Polymer Technology

J. DiMaio
Tetramer Technologies, LLC,
United States

Keywords: authentication, brand protection, frangible, polymer

Summary:

Tetramer has developed a unique technology to produce pre-stressed frangible, polymeric coatings. These can be applied using traditional thin-film coating and curing techniques or more advanced 3D-printing techniques. The ability to produce stable, pre-stressed films allows for superior tamper indicating coatings as the films not only crack in the area where the coating has been breached, but across the entire surface of the coating. These films can also be customized with pre-defined crack patterns and crack densities that enable manufacturers to apply unique and individualized strategies for product authentication and anti-counterfeiting. Tetramer has demonstrated the performance of coatings on test substrates, in both active and passive configurations. The production of transparent films that catastrophically and reproducibly fail in a predetermined manner allows for three types of products be developed: (1) frangible waveguiding coatings including an LED and sensor to detect penetration of the coating, (2) single-use authentication tokens with predefined crack patterns, and (3) frangible coatings which obviously demonstrate when they have been physically breached. While this technology was initially developed as a component for tamper indicating seals for the DOE, current commercial efforts focus on producing a simple, easy-to-use authentication tag for commercial consumer products. The initial concept of operation is to produce frangible tags with specific patterns or crack densities that are pre-defined during their manufacture. The patterns are not visible and the active portion of the tag appears as a transparent window until the end-user activates the franging mechanism to reveal the pattern. Based on fundamental understanding of the materials and processing parameters as well as extensive empirical analysis, Tetramer can accurately predict the types of crack patterns and density of cracks that are produced under various processing conditions. The development of the technology as well as the various operational concepts are described.