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RR Donnelley Introduces Custom-Printed NFC RFID Tags

The company will offer tags with application-specific printed antennas, to create custom RFID labels or embed them in printed products, such as catalogs, product packaging and retail displays.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 10, 2013

After 15 years of manufacturing and selling RFID labels that it made by converting radio frequency identification tags produced by other companies, RR Donnelley & Sons Co. is now also providing a line of passive RFID tags—both high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF)—that it designs and manufactures with conventional passive RFID chips and a custom-printed antenna. The company not only will use the printed RFID technology to make custom RFID labels that can be affixed to items, but it can also embed the tags directly into a wide range of products, including catalogs, product packaging and retail displays.

The new printed RFID tags are intended to meet a growing demand for specific tag sizes and form factors. In the case of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, customers are seeking to build NFC RFID tags into materials at retail locations in order to create a bridge for consumers between brick-and-mortar stores and the Internet. In this way, consumers can find out more information about a particular product, service or location, or share their own views or experiences beyond the physical store.

"While our printed RFID inlays provide unique flexibility, the value lies in the seamless incorporation of those inlays into a final printed product—whether it is a label, package, a textbook or any other RR Donnelley product," says Ronnie Sarkar, RR Donnelley's technology innovations senior VP. The company intends to debut the new printed tags at RFID Journal LIVE! 2013, being held in Orlando, Fla., from Apr. 30 to May 2, and expects them to be made commercially available this fall.

RR Donnelley, headquartered in Chicago, produces print, digital and supply chain solutions, including the printing of books, catalogs and magazines, as well as digital asset-management and publishing-automation software and logistics services. Its RFID labels are utilized in retail, defense, transportation, supply chain management, health care and manufacturing.

The latest offering targets the same industries, but provides a product customized to a client's specific needs. For example, a product manufacturer could require a customized label or product packaging with built-in NFC or RFID (UHF or HF) tags printed at RR Donnelley's own facility. This solution would contrast with the more traditional set of pre-made RFID labels that come in specific sizes and form factors.

"Customers tell us that they often encounter challenges in selecting and qualifying an inlay that isn't targeted for their specific use," Sarkar says. "We believe by offering a complete design, test and production service for RFID inlays, we can streamline that process." With the new printed label offerings, he adds, the firm's focus will now be on customizing the solution, rather than on providing stock inlays.

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