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Textile Label Launch Includes Dual NFC-UHF Functionality, Printing Machines

TexTrace has released woven RFID textile labels that remain with a garment, while Jakob Müller is selling machines that service bureaus and label companies can use to make their own sewn-in RFID labels under TexTrace's license.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 13, 2019

Textrace is now offering licensing for companies that wish to build RFID-enabled woven labels, while its partner and sister company, Jakob Müller AG, is making two new machines developed for creating the labels. The machines can be used to weave text into those labels, along with an integrated woven RFID antenna, and can also create non-RFID labels.

The company has been developing its textile-based RFID labels for eight years, but the new platform (known as Soft Brand and Care Labels) and machines are now putting the products in the hands of service bureaus, label makers and potential end users. "We expect to have first tests and pilot volumes with one or two brands running in 2019," says Stephan Buehler, the company's CEO. "The interest and feedback are very promising so far from sports, fashion and underwear brands we have directly approached."

For several years, the company has had customers piloting the fabric-based UHF RFID labels on the products it sells, including fashion and undergarment businesses in Europe (see Luxury Apparel Maker to Test TexTrace's Fabric RFID Label). The system enables the companies to capture RFID data from the time of manufacture until long after a product is sold, which would not be possible with traditional disposable paper RFID hangtags attached to garments after manufacturing.

The labels operate with ICs provided by either Impinj or NXP Semiconductors, says Marc Höntsch, Textrace's commercial director. They can include 13.56 MHz NFC chips compliant with the ISO 14443 standard, he adds, so that the tags could respond not only to UHF readers, but also to NFC-enabled smartphones or tablets.

Together with technology partners, Höntsch says, Textrace has created efficient manufacturing equipment that supports the complete process of manufacturing textile RFID labels. The new machines come in two varieties: one that makes Jacquard-brand labels and another that produces soft woven labels (which can include satin labels with a printed brand name).

Companies that are already testing—or are planning pilots of—the Textrace labels tend to be high-end fashion and larger vertically integrated retailers, Höntsch reports, in contrast with department stores that sell a variety of products and commonly use paper hangtags. "These are not the kinds of retailers we are looking for," he states. "We see RFID-experienced retailers with high control of their entire supply chain as early adopters of the new label technology," such as businesses that sell their own fashion or luxury brands. Interest in these sewn-in RFID fabric labels is growing, Höntsch says, in part because more brands and retailers are already familiar with—and are using—RFID technology within their stores, back rooms and warehouses.

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