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Alien Extends Gen 2 Product Line, Expands Manufacturing

The company is making its own Gen 2 chip and celebrating the opening of a manufacturing facility capable of producing 2 billion chips and 500 million inlays per year.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Alien says end users have memory and format options for its EPC Gen 2 chip. It comes available with either 64 bits, 96 bits or 128 bits of user memory, and it can be factory-programmed with a serial number for use in anticounterfeiting measures.

In the past year, STMicroelectronics (see STMicro Ramps Up Production of Its XRAG2 Chip and Impinj (see Impinj Introduces Two New Gen 2 Chips) have announced new Gen 2 chips.

Alien also introduced additions to its inlay portfolio, which includes five EPC Gen 2 tags optimized for reading across the UHF spectrum, from 860 to 960 MHz. The "World Tag" consists of the 2x2 (apparel and baggage tag), Squiggle (general purpose), Omni-Squiggle (pallet tag), Castle tag (general purpose) and M-tag (for use near liquids and metals). In addition, Alien announced the Mini-Squiggle, designed for item-level tagging, and the 1x1 tag for use on pharmaceutical product labeling.

According to Eulau, Alien's new Fargo manufacturing facility will initially be used for chip-making and final inlay manufacturing. The chips will then be sent to the Morgan Hill facility, where they will be joined to straps using the company's patented Fluidic Self-Assembly (FSA) process before being shipped back to Fargo. There, the straps will be joined to antennas to create inlays.

Once market demand exceeds the Morgan Hill plant's capacity of 2 billion straps per year, Alien says it will add two FSA strap-attachment lines at the Fargo site. "Because we have made improvements in our FSA process that will enable us to increase the output of a single line from 2 billion to 5 billion, the Fargo facility will be able to produce 10 billion straps a year," says Keith McDonald, Alien's senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Currently, the Fargo plant is capable of producing up to 2 billion chips and up to 500 million inlays per year. Alien has contracted with RFID label converters that allow for a total annual production of 840 million RFID smart labels. The company says the introduction of its own chip will not change its inlay pricing, which should remain consistent until market demand enables it to lower prices.

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