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Opportunities in RFID Production

(June 2009) posted on Mon Jun 01, 2009

Radio frequency identification is creating big changes in the way companies handle product tracking, security, authentication, and more. Find out how the technology works and why screen-printing shops are in a great position to stake claims in RFID manufacturing.


By Wim Zoomer

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One of the most contested pieces of sky during World War II was the airspace above the British Channel, which separates the UK and France by a mere 30 kilometers. The British, Americans, and Germans all used radar to screen for aircraft, but the technology couldn’t identify which planes belonged to the enemy and which were friendly planes returning from a mission.

To overcome this obstacle, British physicist Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt headed a secret project to develop the first active friend or foe system, which involved putting a transmitter on each British plane. When the transmitter received radar signals from radar stations, it began broadcasting a signal back that identified the aircraft as friendly.

Contemporary radio-frequency identification (RFID) works in the same way. A transponder, attached to an object, receives a radio signal and wakes up. Then it either reflects back a signal or broadcasts a signal that identifies the object. RFID technology enables wireless and unique identification of people, animals, and products using radio signals. It is becoming an essential tool for making processes—such as logistic transport, retail inventory control, and security—more efficient and more intelligent.

The growing use of RFID technology is creating opportunities for a range of businesses, including screen-printing shops. This overview of how RFID systems work and the methods that can be used to manufacture their antennas can help you decide whether RFID production is a good fit for your business .

 

RFID technology

RFID systems are frequently produced as adhesive tags or labels, but they also may be incorporated as permanent components of products—for example, they my be imbedded in credit cards or other smart cards. They are seen as an ideal replacement for barcode labels, which must be scanned independently with an optical reader to identify the product to which they’re attached. RFID tags, on the other hand, require no line-of-sight contact with the reading device—they must simply be within range of the radio signal it emits. Furthermore, multiple RFID tags can be read simultaneously, meaning a whole shopping cart of goods or a pallet of manufactured products can be identified nearly instantaneously. RFID tags can serve a variety of functions, from anti-theft protection and proof of ownership to authentication and inventory control.


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