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DELO and Mühlbauer Work to Lower Tag Costs

The companies have released new adhesives and tag-manufacturing equipment that support the use of smaller passive UHF RFID chips and enable faster production speeds.
By Claire Swedberg
May 06, 2014

For end users and solution providers of radio frequency identification, the price per tag for passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID labels can be key to making a project affordable. Two companies releasing new products to enable the production of lower-cost tags are German adhesives firm DELO Industrial Adhesives (which provides the glue that affixes an antenna and a chip to an inlay during the application, bonding and curing processes) and Mühlbauer (which makes the machinery to manufacture those tags, including the adhesive's injection into the inlay). DELO showcased its latest adhesives product at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 conference and exhibition, held last month in Orlando, Fla.

DELO and Mühlbauer work closely with tag manufacturers, enabling them to produce cost-efficient labels, on demand, with equipment that can produce those tags, using adhesives that enable such production. DELO has the largest share of the RFID label adhesives market, and has been modifying its product so that tags can be made more inexpensively.

"Most of our changes have been around enabling a lower-cost tag," says Jens Amarell, DELO's RFID product manager. Tags need to have less material and be produced faster, he explains, and the chips themselves are smaller. Thus, he says, bonding to an antenna—and still providing conductivity for electrical signals—becomes even more challenging.

"In terms of adhesives, it's been quite a task for us," Amarell says. "The chips have become so small that they are only 400 by 400 micrometers [0.016 inch by 0.016 inch]. That's basically nothing, but they need to be bonded to the antenna reliably and still need to conduct the electrical signals."

In addition, the tags must be produced quickly. When a thermode (currently the curing instrument of choice for mass production) is used, the adhesive takes eight seconds at 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) to cure, or to reach full strength. This represents a considerable reduction in time, Amarell says, compared with earlier adhesives, which typically required a few minutes under heat to reach full strength.

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