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Mühlbauer Unveils Machines that Print Tag Antennas, Attach Chips, 'Personalize' Labels

The new machines, the company reports, are designed to meet the market's needs for quality inlay production, as well as speed, scalability, flexibility and cost-savings.
By Rhea Wessel
Jun 23, 2014

Mühlbauer, a company that manufactures turnkey solutions for the production of passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlays and their subsequent conversion into smart labels and smart tickets, recently launched three new production machines at its headquarters in Roding, Germany. The new machines produce antennas, create RFID labels by attaching chips to those antennas and "personalize" (print and encode) those labels.

The firm invited customers and business partners from around the world to attend an event that it called "RFID Innovation Days," which included the unveiling of the three machines. To pulsing music and applause, Mühlbauer pulled back a silver cloth to reveal its APS 20000 antenna-production machine, which prints high-quality copper antennas on paper label substrate, and consists of modules for printing, curing and quality control.

Mühlbauer's Thomas Betz
The next day, the company did the same for its DDA 20000 Direct Die Attach inlay-assembly solution, using passive EPC Gen 2 RFID chips provided by Impinj and NXP Semiconductors to demonstrate how the machine works. The company also unveiled its new Personalization Line.

"The RFID market is changing from a technology-driven market to an application-driven market," said Thomas Betz, a member of Mühlbauer's management board. "To meet the needs of the market for quality inlay production, speed, scalability, flexibility and cost-savings, we are simplifying and integrating manufacturing technologies and working to standardize and simplify product design."

Betz opened the event with a presentation in which he described his vision of simplified and integrated in-house RFID tag production—an idea he referred to as "Concept 2020." At present, Betz said, Mühlbauer's production machines cover four process areas: antenna production, inlay assembly, converting or lamination, and personalization. Once additional Mühlbauer machines become available, he noted, RFID tag manufacturers needing to produce large quantities of particular labels ("high-runner products") would be able to do so on a fully integrated production line—what Mühlbauer calls the RFID Line—comprising a single machine with dedicated solutions for particular applications.

"To achieve optimized production for high volumes, we want to develop small, flexible machines—rather like speedboats that are easy to handle instead of big tankers," Betz said. "If you need more capacity, you just add one speedboat more to your fleet. This will lead us to high volumes and help decrease costs. We want to go from paper to personalized label in five minutes by 2020."

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