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Uniform Maker Sees a Market for CSL's Thread-Antenna Tag

Farbo Uniforms is developing garment-tracking solutions based on a novel passive UHF RFID tag with an antenna made of metalized thread sewn into a garment.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 28, 2015

Farbo Uniforms, a Hong Kong uniform provider, reports that it is developing garment-tracking solutions based on a novel passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID tag with an antenna made of metalized thread. The tag, known as the CS8200, was developed by Convergence Systems Ltd. (CSL) and is unique in that the antenna is added after the tag is applied to a garment.

There are other tags on the market that use thin wires for antennas, but these are part of the tag, encased in protective material and applied to the garment. The CS8200 tag is different in that it includes two metal pads, one on each side. The thread—which creates a dipole tag antenna—is added after a tag is placed on a garment, with metalized thread stitched into each pad, as well as a garment or other cloth item, in either a straight or wave pattern. The tag is then sewn to the garment, or affixed via heat-sealed tape. The tag itself measures 17 millimeters by 34 millimeters by 1.4 millimeters (0.7 inch by 1.3 inches by 0.06 inch). The total length of the tag's thread antenna can be 60 millimeters, 100 millimeters or 140 millimeters (2.4 inches, 3.9 inches or 5.5 inches), depending on the desired read range.

A tag sewn onto the inside of a uniform.
The CS8200 tag is more durable, flexible and versatile—as well as less expensive—than other garment tags on the market, according to Jerry Garrett, CSL's managing director. The use of a metalized thread as the antenna enables the tag to be more flexible, since the tag does not need to house and protect a built-in antenna.

Made with the Ucode 7 chip from NXP Semiconductors, the CS8200 offers a read range of 2.7 meters (9 feet) with a 140-millimeter antenna, 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) with a 100-millimeter antenna, and 0.6 meter (2 feet) with a 60-millimeter antenna. The metalized antenna thread is available in a variety of customized colors, depending on a customer's needs. CSL offers sewing guidelines to help users ensure that they have it sewn properly to achieve the best read range. The metalized thread was developed specifically for use with the CSL tag by Coats, a manufacturer of industrial thread.

The thread, which creates a dipole tag antenna, is stitched into a garment.
Farbo Uniforms provides costumes and uniforms for customers in Hong Kong, China and Macau, as well as management software and solutions to help customers monitor the movements and usage of clothing items. The company partners with Novus Motion, a firm that offers RFID solutions for the hospitality industry and other businesses that use uniforms and costumes, explains Jeffrey Chau, who serves as Farbo Uniforms' executive director and Novus Motion's director.

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