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Clariant’s New Laser Marking System to Replace Antimony Trioxide in TPU Ear Tags

Published on 2019-11-26. Author : SpecialChem

Clariant has launched an antimony-trioxide-free system for molding and laser-marking thermoplastic urethane (TPU) ear tags used for identifying cattle and other livestock. Clariant worked with Coherent, Inc. to develop an additive masterbatch that, when added to the TPU commonly used to mold ear tags, makes the polymer more receptive to the near-infrared laser light from Coherent laser markers.

Molds Ear Tags Without Antimony Trioxide

Clariant Launches Laser Marking TPU Ear Tags

The additive masterbatch mold ear tags without antimony trioxide (ATO), the ingredient most commonly used to facilitate laser marking of TPU. Instead of ATO, which is classified by ECHA (European Chemical Agency) as Carc. 2, H351 (suspected of causing cancer by inhalation), the Clariant additive masterbatch uses another metalloid chemical plus a special enhancing agent and eliminates the need for carcinogenic ATO. The proprietary solution is currently pending patent approval.

The Clariant ear-tag system offers an easy, more sustainable alternative for ear-tag production by producing high contrast images at marking speeds at least as high as those associated with tags containing ATO additives. The Coherent PowerLine F 100 W air-cooled laser marker did the actual marking. The PowerLine F Series laser sub-systems combine fiber laser technology with beam processing and software, providing high speed, precision, flexibility and user-friendliness.

Creates Easily Readable Laser Marking


Compared to printing, laser marking is a superior process for creating bar codes, text and other identifying marks on animal tags. However, unmodified TPU is essentially transparent to near-infrared laser light, so the carbonization and/or foaming reaction required to make a laser mark does not occur.

The new Clariant additive – supplied as a concentrated masterbatch for dosing into virgin polymer at a rate of 2 to 4 percent – helps the laser create easily readable, scannable, and permanent laser markings that cannot be washed away or dissolved by solvents or oils.

Ear tags are in everyday use around the world. In the European Union, all cattle are required by law to have official ear tags in both ears to enable computerized location tracking. The tags are typically large and carry a lot of information, so it is important that the Clariant additive allows the laser to create high-quality images quickly. Tags may combine laser markings and Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) inserts to simplify the collection of tracking information.

Both partner companies are global, which means we can provide a complete and consistent supply chain worldwide,” explained Chun-Yip Pang, Clariant’s Global Product Manager Additive Masterbatches – Laser.

The new laser marking additives have been awarded the EcoTain® label given by Clariant for sustainability excellence. EcoTain is a Clariant flagship label awarded to products that pass a systematic, in-depth screening process using 36 criteria spanning three sustainability dimensions: social, environmental and economic. An EcoTain designation highlights solutions that offer outstanding sustainability advantages without compromising on performance, and that add value to customers and society.


Source: Clariant
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