An alternative to stainless steel is photosensitive aluminum for tags and plates that will be exposed to harsh weather, chemicals, dirt, and grime . The Metalphoto® process seals text, logos, and symbols into aluminum. It works very much like photographic paper – the images become a part of the aluminum, they are not printed on top of or added to the aluminum.
The benefits of this are countless. Text will never be scraped or scratched off of a tag. A photosensitive aluminum plate will never corrode or rust. And compared to stainless steel aluminum is nearly weightless.
For many years stainless steel has been the material of choice for the tags and plates used in oil/gas. Stainless steel is strong, heat resistant, and corrosion resistant. Applications for etched and screened stainless steel range from asset tags, bar code tags, serial tags, scales, and schematic plates. It is a durable material that consistently proves reliable in harsh conditions. Ceramic coatings can be bonded onto stainless steel to increase the metals durability. (See "Ceramic Coated Stainlees Steel Barcode Tags" April 1.2013)
Stainless steel has drawbacks, however. It is heavy and because of that it isn’t the best material choice for gas powered vehicles, avionics, or water craft.
Consider however that over the course of time images and text can disappear from stainless steel. Marking stainless steel involves silk screening with ink or etching into the stainless steel surface. Ink can be gouged or scraped off. Etching removes part of the surface of the tag and therefore exposes it to chemicals and the dirt and grime of the oil and gas fields. An etched tag or plate tag is more likely to corrode and rust when the protective surface layer is removed by etching.
When considering product marking applications that must stand up to harsh environments and are especially durable under exposure to chemicals and challenging elements consider Metalphoto® aluminum plates and tags. Its strengths include that it is corrosion resistant, incredibly light wieght, and that text will never fade or scratch off. Prices are comparable to stainless steel and the longevity of the tag or plate increases exponentially as does the reliability of the information it carries.