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Universal Tag and Printer Combo Aimed at On-demand Encoding at Industrial Sites

Metalcraft, SATO say their combination of a universal tag and a cloneable printer can make encoding and tagging metal or other material items seamless at factories, warehouses or industrial sites.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 16, 2017

ID solutions and RFID tag maker Metalcraft and automatic-identification technologies company SATO America have teamed up to offer a solution for printing and encoding on-metal RFID tags. By selling both SATO's industrial thermal printer and Metalcraft's Universal Mini UHF RFID asset tags, the two companies say they are providing an easy solution for printing on-metal tags at manufacturing sites or other locations. The paired products address a growing need for RFID tracking, they add, beyond traditional paper or synthetic tags that adhere to such items as cartons and pallets.

The Universal Mini tag can typically be used for work-in-progress (WIP), inventory control, and fixed or mobile asset tracking. The tag measures 2.75 inches by 0.75 inch, and is composed of 0.02-inch-thick polyester.

Metalcraft's Universal Mini UHF RFID
SATO has offered its CL4NX printer for several years, aimed at enabling companies to print tags on demand for industrial use cases, according to Gary Krause, SATO America's senior director of marketing. The printer has several features that make it unique, he says: a cloneable feature allows an individual to set up printer configuration and then share data with other printers, while an encoding process from the top reduces the incidence of errors.

SATO's Gary Krause
Metalcraft make its Universal Mini Onsite Printable tags for WIP applications at manufacturing facilities and other sites, as well as for the health-care market and others in which users need to track products in metal containers containing liquids or other materials.

Metalcraft had been seeking a printer that could consistently encode its new tags, says Austin Elling, the company's marketing director, and it liked the SATO model. Earlier this year, Metalcraft approached SATO. As a result, both firms now endorse each other's products and will sell them to customers as a solution. The two companies also continue to work with other technology vendors.

There were several reasons why the SATO printer was a good match for the Universal Mini tag, Krause says. When encoding tags, he explains, a typical RFID printer will encode from the bottom of a tag. However, most on-metal tags come with a metal barrier at the bottom to allow for an easy read. That metal barrier makes bottom-up encoding difficult and prone to errors, he adds. The CL4NX can encode from the top of the tag, Krause notes, "which allows the Metalcraft tag to run through the printer and encode without reconstruction of the tag."

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