If you’re in the market for metal QR code tags, it’s probably for one of two reasons:
While QR codes can be embedded in a variety of substances, such as wood, plastic, and glass, nothing beats metal for ultimate longevity. However, not all metal labels are created equal, and if you’re looking to switch your QR code tag material, you’ll want to understand your application’s requirements before you place an order.
Other materials share some of the properties of metal QR tags, but not all. Wood may look attractive, but it isn’t as durable, especially when used as a thin QR tag. Plastic may be flexible, but it will degrade in the sunlight far quicker and isn’t nearly as strong as metal. Glass is a fun novelty, but if you’re looking for a material that will withstand the rigors of a fast-paced warehouse, it simply won’t do. Stickers can be inexpensive, but they rip, peel, and fade.
There’s no one way to make a metal QR code tag, and the exact kind you need depends on how rugged you need your tag to be. While just about any metal can be used, some are more common than others:
This is the most common material used because aluminum is easier to work with than harder metals like steel, but is still more durable than plastic or paper. Camcode’s proprietary Metalphoto® anodized aluminum offers extreme durability to withstand the harshest indoor and outdoor environments, with excellent resistance to chemicals, solvents, UV, and extreme temperatures.
For an upscale appearance, choose brass. This copper-zinc alloy gives a QR code tag a sophisticated look like no other metal.
If it’s durability you want and price is less of a concern, stainless steel is an option. Because it can withstand frequent cleaning and strong caustics, it’s often used for metal QR code tags in the food processing industry, healthcare organizations, laboratories, and chemical, textile, and petroleum environments.
It’s not just the materials that make the difference in durability. How the printing is transferred to the tag is important too.
If your metal QR code tag only needs to be used once or twice, or if you’re using it as a decoration, perhaps on a piece of luxurious luggage, then you might be able to get away with screen printing. This is the method often used for shirts and posters, and while it can look very nice, it’s not very durable.
While this is a viable method for images that don’t have stark details, it’s not a good idea for QR codes. Embossing uses a dye to make a permanent imprint on the material, and the sharp edges in a QR code require a more detailed method.
Unlike embossing, which presses the image into the material, engraving involves the removal of material with a laser or cutting implement. The lines can be incredibly sharp, and the image will last, but it’s a slow process. If your QR code tag is a one-of-a-kind that just needs to be durable, this might be a viable choice.
Photo-anodization places the design beneath a layer of anodized aluminum, providing a balance between durability and manufacturing speed. Since the design is under a sapphire-hard anodic layer of aluminum, it won’t fade, scuff, or wear easily, and if done properly, it can last for more than 20 years.
You’ll have to decide which factor is the most important one for your tags. Every tag has a different purpose, and yours will determine which kind of tag is best.
Metal QR code tags can be used for:
Of course, these are just a few possible applications, and you may have a creative need for a metal QR code tag that no one has thought of. But how do you know which process and material are right based on these varied needs? Consider the properties that matter most to you:
If you need a large number of metal QR code tags, and they don’t need to be very strong, then screen-printed aluminum should do the trick.
If your main concern is looking luxurious, and the cost is less important, you might want engraved brass.
For QR code tags that will last for years and withstand massive wear and tear, engraved stainless steel or photo-anodized aluminum would be the best choice.
Look carefully at the labels you want. They each come with their upsides and downsides, and some have special features such as extreme temperature resistance or Teflon coatings for resisting caustic chemicals. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer about their processes and use cases to ensure the tags are right for you.