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Intune Producing RFID Tag Antennas

The Finnish startup says it is currently making 5 million tag antennas a month, but its annual production capacity will reach 1.3 billion antennas by the middle of next year.
By Jonathan Collins
Dec 19, 2005Having bought the RFID tag antenna manufacturing business of UPM Rafsec, Finnish startup Intune Circuits says its annual production capacity will reach 1.3 billion by the middle of next year.

In May, Intune was formed jointly by UPM Kymmene, UPM Rafsec's parent company and one of the world's largest manufacturers of newsprint and magazine paper; Outokumpu Technology, a Finnish maker of stainless steel coils, wires, rods and bars; and Finnish Industry Investment Ltd., a government-owned venture capital company administered by the Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry. (See Finnish Venture to Make RFID Antennas.)

Matti Karjanlahti, President of Intune Circuits
The company aims to specialize in manufacturing antennas for HF and UHF tags, both passive and active, using solid copper or aluminum or metallic inks. Its customers will decide which design and materials will be used. In November, Intune acquired Rafsec's antenna manufacturing equipment, which is now producing antennas for Rafsec—its only customer so far—in rented space at Rafsec's own plant in the Finnish city of Jyväskylä.

Intune is currently producing etched copper antennas. After the company opens its own plant, however, it expects the bulk of its HF and UHF antenna production to be etched aluminum.

"The line in Jyväskylä has a capacity of around 300 million antennas a year," says Matti Karjanlahti, president of Intune Circuits, in Vantaa, just a few miles north of Helsinki, on Finland's southern coast. "We have been producing only for a month or so, but we are already producing around 5 million antennas a month."

Intune says its own production plant, currently being built in Vantaa, will be completed in early January. Within two months of that date, the company will use it to produce etched aluminum antennas. By April, it aims to move its etched-copper production line from Jyväskylä to Vantaa.

Initially, Intune's production capacity will exceed the market demand for UHF antennas, according to Intune, which seeks to sell its products to inlay manufacturers around the world. "By next spring, our customers will still be testing which UHF inlays to use, and chip production will still be ramping up," says Karjanlahti. "We don't expect volume sales growth until after the summer next year."

Drawing on the metal production skills of Outokumpu Technology, Intune is hoping to cut its antenna production costs by developing a process to reuse material removed during the etching process. "Fifty to 70 percent of the antenna material, depending on the antenna pattern, is wasted, and we are hoping to find a resale use for that material," explains Karjanlahti. "We have a pilot line and the results are good, but we still have to test the process on a larger scale and find a market for the resulting material."
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