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New Stainless-Steel Ultra-rugged Tag Promises Durability for Health Care, Oil and Gas

Xerafy's passive UHF RFID Roswell tag is being tested by health-care and oil and gas firms, and will be part of a new solution for tracking surgical equipment.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 25, 2014

Xerafy has announced its most rugged tag, the Roswell. The new tag is made with a passive EPC Gen 2 RFID chip, fully encased in stainless steel and capable of being welded directly onto a metal item. While Xerafy initially developed the Roswell tag as a solution for those seeking to track metal items used during surgery, such as tool trays, the product also works on gas cylinders or valves. Sample versions are currently being tested by companies in both the health-care and oil and gas industries.

At present, the Roswell tags are only being offered as samples for testing; however, they are expected to be made commercially available for orders in large quantities in April 2014, coinciding with this year's RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, being held on Apr. 8-10. The new tag is also part of a solution being launched by RFID company OATSystems (a division of Checkpoint Systems) for tracking surgical instruments to automate such supply room processes as cleaning and sterilization, and to reduce preventable incidents—such as the loss of a tool during a surgical procedure—as well as improve patient care.

Xerafy's Roswell on-metal tag
The Roswell is Xerafy's most rugged tag, the company reports, with an IP69K rating for withstanding high pressure and extreme temperatures. "We've never had a product like this one," says Evelyn Ong, Xerafy's sales director. The entire tag is made of stainless steel, which it employs to act as an antenna, thereby requiring nothing more than an EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID chip in the center of the tag.

Xerafy has been developing the solution for approximately nine to 12 months, in an effort to create a tag that can sustain the harshest environments while providing a consistent read range. The requirements expressed by its customers had included not only that the tag survive harsh conditions—sterilization processes, for instance—but also that it not come loose from an item to which it is attached. With the use of adhesives, there is always the risk that a tag, no matter how tough, could still be knocked loose. When it comes to health-care applications and tools used around patients during surgery, Xerafy indicates, it is especially critical that a tag never be detached from something like a surgical tool.

Xerafy's Evelyn Ong
"Metal is still the best way to connect a tag to metal," Ong states. Since the tag is entirely composed of metal, she says, the Roswell tag could be welded to another metal object, thereby providing a very durable connection.

Although the use of metal as an antenna is not new (see The Object Is the Antenna and RFID License Plates: A Successful In-Metal RFID Application), Ong says previous versions of metal tag antennas have had variable read results. "We wanted to try to make a tag that could be consistent," she explains. The result, the company reports, is a tag with a 5-meter (16.4-foot) read range over a 180-degree orientation. In addition to being attachable via welding or soldering, the tag could also be fastened by bolts, tie loops or adhesive.

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