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Arjowiggins Offers Paper With Embedded NFC RFID Tags

The company's PowerCoat Alive product, which includes printed tag antennas, is being marketed to brand owners, retailers and other potential users.
By Claire Swedberg

Companies can simply buy RFID-enabled sheets of paper from Arjowiggins, and then print text or graphics on those sheets and cut them as needed for their own use case, such as business cards, price tags or small packaging. If companies chose to do so, they could laminate the sheets to their own paper packaging.

Arjowiggins is using silicon NFC RFID chips from a variety of vendors, and is employing the services of a European printing company that places the ICs within the paper fibers and prints the antennas. Carlisle says he is in discussions with several potential partners in the United States that would provide similar services to allow North American customers to receive the printed sheets more quickly, once they place their orders.

A PowerCoat Alive sheet of paper measures 46 centimeters by 36 centimeters (18.1 inches by 14.17 inches), and can be ordered with either two or 25 NFC tags integrated into it. A box of PowerCoat Alive paper (containing four sheets with 25 tags apiece, or 30 sheets with two NFC tags apiece) costs about €90 euros ($100).

The PowerCoat Alive product is commercially available now. The technology is still being tested by potential customers, Carlisle says, but he expects the first sales to take place next month.

Although PowerCoat is strictly a high-frequency (HF) NFC RFID product, some companies are interested in using ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to accomplish a read at a greater distance than the few inches typically provided by NFC. Carlisle cites a pilot currently underway in New York in which a jewelry company (that has asked to be unnamed) is using envelopes made of PowerCoat paper. During a typical workday, the gems are placed in an envelope and are moved around the company's facility as they are processed for use in jewelry, such as rings, pendants or bracelets. With the UHF RFID tags built into the envelopes, management could then utilize a handheld reader to locate all of them at any given time, in order to ensure that nothing is ever unaccounted for and, more generally, to manage workflow and inventory.

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