Simplify production by outsourcing UID labels

Contractors doing business with the Department of Defense have likely been awarded contracts based on their expertise in a particular area. For these experts, keeping up to date with the latest developments in their field and determining how to stay competitive are understandably a major focus.


Staying focused on the core mission and avoiding distractions can be a challenge for businesses. And following the intricate requirements for labeling each piece of equipment produced for the U.S. military with a unique identifier may seem like one of those distractions. Contractors might want to strongly consider outsourcing this piece of their projects.


Jet City Laser Inc. ( is one such company that contractors can turn to for help in complying with requirements of the DoD’s Item Unique Identification program, or IUID, which is spelled out in MIL-STD-130.Companies such as Jet City Laser not only produce IUID nameplates, but also can help determine what type of labeling will work best for a particular application.


The Unique Identifier, or UID, that is applied to each piece of equipment supplied to the military is in the form of a 2-D Data Matrix symbol. One of the first decisions is whether to apply the symbol directly to the equipment, or to attach it via a label. MIL-STD-130 includes specifications for both techniques. Direct marking is accomplished through methods such as chemical etching or dot peening.


Indirect marking with a label is easier in some regards. Contractors might already be affixing labels to equipment with certain information; it’s possible that the Data Matrix symbol can be included on those labels. A key consideration is whether the IUID nameplates are durable enough to last the life of the equipment and not wear out in normal operating conditions. Jet City Laser uses long-lasting, certified materials. The Data Matrix symbols also undergo IUID verification to ensure they are readable — another requirement of MIL-STD-130. Aluminum, anodized aluminum, stainless steel, Tesa tape, and polyester are just some of the options available for label material. A protective coating can be added to help prevent scuffs and avoid damage to the Data Matrix symbol.


Of course, with an indirect marking method, another concern is that the IUID nameplates are securely attached to the equipment and won’t fall off. Again, UID labeling experts can help determine if adhesive or riveting is the best attachment method. Conditions the label will encounter over time, such as temperature fluctuations and chemical exposure, should be evaluated. Every situation has unique factors to consider.

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