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Printable RFID Research Gets $23M Investment

A public-private partnership in Germany is investing €15 million (about $23 million) for research to develop improved materials and production techniques for printable RFID. The MaDriX project is scheduled to run for three years and is led by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Mar 12, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

March 12, 2008—A German government agency and five companies are jointly investing €15 million (about US$23.2 million) in a three-year research project intended to develop better materials for printable RFID tags. Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is investing €8 million in the so-called MaDriX project, with German companies BASF, ELANTAS Beck, Evonik Industries, PolyIC, and Siemens providing the rest.

"The main goal of this project is to develop printed electronics with a higher functionality compared to the printed electronics available today," Bettina Bergbauer of Fürth-based PolyIC told RFID Update. "The research is not targeted at specific applications. It is about enhancing printed electronics in general."

Printed RFID, also referred to as "organic" or "plastic" RFID, is a method of producing tags by printing electronic inks that have characteristics similar to those found in the standard silicon microchips. The electronic ink eliminates the need for a chip, which has the potential to reduce cost dramatically. Current printable RFID technology has less read range and memory than traditionally produced chips, and manufacturing methods do not support high-volume production.

PolyIC will focus on determining component requirements and arranging technology demonstrations, while BASF, ELANTAS Beck, and Evonik Industries will concentrate on material development and Siemens will lead research into printing processes, according to Bergbauer. The BMBF is sponsoring the research as part of its "Key Technologies -- Research for Innovations, Communications Technology Sector" program, of which the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is a sponsor. Universities and other research institutions are also participating in the MaDriX project.

Recall that PolyIC is a leading innovator of printed RFID. A joint venture between Siemens and hot stamping and coating specialist KURZ, PolyIC is one of the most visible efforts to develop and commercialize printed RFID. (See PolyIC Announces Printable RFID Prototypes for recent PolyIC progress.)

MaDriX is independent of the PRISMA project, which is researching applications for printable RFID applications (see Organic Growth: Conference Tries Printed RFID Tags).

Last month NanoMarkets, a US-based market research firm, predicted $12.6 billion worth of printed RFID antennas would be sold in 2015, however current sales are believed to be very small.

See PolyIC's announcement
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