Laser coding and printing specialist DataLase along with US company Intermec and NASA have collaborated in the launch of a selection of marked RFID tags and aluminium discs into space.
The experiment forms part of NASA's latest research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and will test the durability of DataLase marking techniques under the extreme conditions of space.
The tags and discs have been marked with 2D codes and text and will be attached to the outside of the ISS for a full year. During this time, they will be exposed to extreme levels of ultraviolet radiation, atomic oxygen, hard vacuum and contamination.
Researchers chose the DataLase GUARDMARK solution for this job because of its capacity to create high-quality, indelible marks capable of withstanding the extreme conditions found in space. The technique achieves a faster and higher quality print than traditional inkjet marking counterparts. Marks created are also indelible and tamper proof says the company.
Steve Kelly, CEO at DataLase, explained: "Everyone involved with the project is very proud to be part of NASA mission. We have always believed our technology provides customers with a greater quality of marking than inkjet printing technologies, and it is gratifying to be recognized by technology leaders such as NASA. We are confident our solution will stand up to the rigorous requirements and look forward to undertaking continued programs with NASA and related bodies."
The components aboard were marked using a laser beam to create identification images on DataLase's colour change labeling. The marked Intermec parts that survive the 12-month period will return to Earth for further evaluation and testing. Should the DataLase markings perform as expected, the technology will be added to NASA's list of part identification requirements and will be used to track and trace parts and equipment on future space missions. DataLase systems will also be added to the approved list of identification requirements used by the US Armed Forces. The technology could then be rapidly integrated into existing manufacturing systems within organisations including the US Navy and Department of Defense for the tracking of weapons and equipment.