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Printing Technologies Make Their Mark in Radio Frequency Identification

(June 2006) posted on Tue Jun 27, 2006

Learn about the function and construction of RFID tags and how screen printing and other imaging methods are used to produce these devices.

By Wim Zoomer

click an image below to view slideshow

Within the last few years, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has developed substantially. Prior to this period, lack of production standards and an infrastructure to support different RFID applications gave this innovation a doubtful technological start.

Persistence by RFID developers, however, has led to breakthroughs in production systems, and supply channels have evolved to support RFID manufacturing. Currently, most RFID applications are standardized, and the market for these products has seen a significant increase in the number of companies that produce them.

Among the companies who have been exploring the market for RFIDs are businesses with a background in industrial screen printing, particularly those who have experience in electronics printing. But companies employing other printing process also have made inroads into various aspects of RFID manufacturing. In this article, we'll look at what RFIDs are and how they function. We'll also find out how screen printing and other imaging technologies are proving ideal for producing a key component of RFID tags and labels—their antennas.

Principles of RFID

In basic terms, RFID technology was created to make the process of identifying and tracking products simple, fast, and accurate. Other benefits and capabilities provided by RFID tags and labels include the ability to

• protect product authenticity
• protect products against theft
• control product inventories in retail outlets, warehouses, libraries, etc.
• control access to buildings, car parks, roads, and other locations
• increase the speed of data processing while lowering its cost by preventing errors from occurring during data entry

Before RFIDs, barcodes on product packages and magnetic strips on banking and security cards were the primary ways in which products and transactions were identified and tracked. Accessing the data represented by a barcode or magnetic strip requires the item or card to be scanned by a reading device. The product or card must be manually positioned in the device, which can lead to delays in data processing. We've all experienced these delays at airline ticket desks and at the checkout counter in the local supermarket.


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