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PolyIC Announces Printed 13.56 MHz RF Tags

At the Organic Electronics Conference, the company claims it has used a roll-to-roll printing process to create a precursor to printed HF RFID tags, consisting of printed polymer electronic components applied to foil-based antennas.
By Rhea Wessel
PolyIC's tags may be of interest to makers of high-value goods such as in the pharmaceutical industry, which loses millions of dollars each year due to counterfeiting. Eckhard Braun of Eurografica Systemplanungs, a consultancy for the packaging industry, held a separate talk about RFID labels in packaging. He stressed that RFID, or "smart" packaging, needs to be part of an integrated product strategy. "The whole process of brand management gets more complex with the addition of smart packaging," he said.

Manufacturing capacity for organic electronics is still in its infancy, but is beginning to show signs of making the transition from R&D to initial production, said Craig Cruckshank, CEO of market research firm Cintelliq, which specializes in the organic semiconductor market and runs the annual Organic Electronics Conference. At this year's event, Cruckshank said the manufacturing infrastructure needed to meet forecasted demand would require $400 million in investment during the next three years. Some $200 million has already been invested during the past 36 months. According to Cintelliq, the market is expected to be worth $1.4 billion within five years.

Wolfgang Mildner
"If you look at the item-level market, what that market needs is a simple RFID chip that is very inexpensive," said Klaus Dimmler, CEO of Organic ID. "They don't need a more complex tag. It needs to be very small and very cheap—something that can be attached to each item. This is not a world silicon can compete in."

Gerhard Finking, head of the microsystems division at the Bundesministerin für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) (Germany's ministry of education and research), agrees. "Hanging onto the silicon line [of thinking] would lead to an eroding international competitive situation," Finking stated. The BMBF is investing millions in organic electronics research, including tests of RFID applications.

"We are planning to put much effort into the development of organic electronic-based RFID," Finking said, adding that materials must still be developed to improve manufacturing in order to attain low-cost, high-volume production.

BMBF research money is already going to one such project, called Prisma ("PRinted SMArt RFID labels"). This project is being organized by VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik, executed by PolyIC.

Founded as a joint venture between Leonhard Kurz and Siemens, PolyIC is developing printed tags in close cooperation with Kurz, a specialist in hot stamping and coating. For the Prisma venture, three application fields will be tested: airline baggage, event ticketing and security documents. The project will compare the performance of polymer RFID tags with that of traditional silicon-based RFID tags. The three-year project began in September 2005.

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