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When Will RFID-Embedded Paper Be Available?

Posted By RFID Journal, 01.08.2013
Do you have a timeframe of when to expect this development?

—Name withheld

———
Like many questions sent to this forum, the answer depends on what you mean by "paper" and by "RFID." Not all paper is the same, just as not all radio frequency identification systems are the same.

You can't, for instance, embed a standard passive high-frequency (HF) or ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID transponder in 80 grams-per-square-meter (gsm) bond paper (the thickness of ordinary office printer paper), as the transponder and antenna are simply too thick. However, it might be feasible to embed Hitachi's µ-chip (pronounced "mu-chip") in 80 gsm bond paper (see Hitachi Unveils Smallest RFID Chip, Hitachi Unveils Integrated RFID Tag and Hitachi Shrinks Smallest RFID Chip).

The µ-chip measures 0.15 millimeter by 0.15 millimeter (0.006 inch by 0.006 inch), with a thickness of 7.5 micrometers (0.003 inch). A sheet of 80 gsm bond paper has a thickness of 0.34 millimeter (0.013 inch), so it might be possible. Several companies have tested the use of these chips in product labels (see Cosmetics and Liquor Companies Assess Toppan Printing's Holographic RFID Labels).

Lexmark has created a laser printer that can print and encode RFID transponders (see New Office Laser Printer Encodes Tags), but the paper has a label with a peel-away adhesive backing. The transponder is embedded in the label, not in the paper. This might be an option for you, depending on the application.

French passive RFID hardware manufacturer Tageos has developed a method of printing EPC Gen 2 passive UHF RFID labels made without a plastic inlay, thereby reducing the cost and environmental impact of traditional tags. It should be possible to use this method to print tags on paper, if that would work for your application.

There are also chipless RFID solutions that could be utilized to identify and authenticate documents—but these would not be able to store those documents' contents. One such solution, developed by Inkode, utilizes aluminum fibers that can be embedded randomly in paper during the manufacturing process (see 1-Cent RFID Tags for Supermarkets). When the paper is hit with RF energy, the metal filings reflect back the radio waves in a unique pattern. Computers associate a specific pattern with a particular piece of paper; as such, the system can be used to authenticate goods.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor,
RFID Journal

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