A bigger plastics business could come in small packages for Microtrace LLC.
The Minneapolis firm recently commercialized molecular taggants that can be used in plastic masterbatch concentrates to help materials firms and brand owners know what they're getting when they buy plastic raw materials or finished plastic parts.
“Users will be able to identify the makeup of the materials and be able to measure things like quantifying content and loading levels,” Vice President Brian Brogger said in a recent phone interview.
The nano-based technology used to make the new taggants can be used by brand owners to ensure their products are being made up to their standards, and as anti-counterfeiting measures. Customers or material suppliers can use a scanning device provided by Microtrace to take these measurements.
Officials with the 27-year-old firm describe the taggants as “virtual fingerprints” that can be uniquely coded for each customer or application. The taggants can be used in all types and colors of resins.
Microtrace has sold its existing line of Microtaggant-brand identification particles into the plastics market for several years. The new molecular particles are expected to help the firm grow its presence in plastics.
“Plastics is a pretty big business for us, and it's been growing,” Brogger said. “We sell tens of millions of pounds of material into that market each year.”
The molecular taggants are completely invisible in finished products, and are typically used at low let-down rates of 1-2 percent.
Microtrace operates its own production plant in Minneapolis. The firm bills itself as a leader in traceable, anti-counterfeit taggant technologies, security labels and laser systems. Microtrace acquired its core taggant technology from consumer and industrial products giant 3M Co. of Minneapolis and now works with many government agencies, consumer product companies and Fortune 500 corporations.