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Printronix Field-Upgradeable RFID Printer-Applicator

The company's new applicator encodes, prints and applies bar-code and RFID labels at manufacturing speeds.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 19, 2006Printronix, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of supply-chain printing solutions, unveiled at this week's EPCglobal US Conference in Los Angeles the SLPA8000r printer-applicator. This device enables consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to tag their products and shipping cases with bar-code or radio frequency identification (RFID) labels at a speed of up to 100 cases per minute. Companies can purchase the unit with the ability to print and apply bar-code labels, then upgrade it in the field to print, encode and apply RFID labels.

"Most manufacturing lines run at 20 to 60 cases per minute," says Brad Jarvis, director of product marketing for Printronix. "Our previous label printer, encoder and applicator could get to those speeds, but you want some leeway. This new version lets them introduce an automated case-tagging system that can handle any sudden spikes in speeds."

Many companies are now applying RFID tags to secondary packaging—that is, to cases of product. The higher speeds that can be achieved with the SLPA800r will be even more critical as companies begin tagging at the item level.

Because the unit can print and apply bar codes at high speed, Jarvis explains, companies can purchase the unit for use with their existing systems, upgrading it to handle RFID labels when they need to tag product for their retail customers.

The SLPA8000r uses Printronix's MP2 Smart encoding technology, which is compliant with EPCglobal's second-generation UHF EPC specifications, while also supporting EPC Class 0, 0+, 1 and NXP (Philips) UCode 1.19 protocols. The printer-applicator can handle the same RFID inlay designs as Printronix's desktop label printer, so companies don't need to buy different RFID labels for desktop printers and label applicators.

The SLPA8000r is the third generation version of Printronix's SLPA7000r print-encode-and-apply system, which was introduced in June 2004. Auto-ID market research firm CB Group USA says Printronix won nearly 40 percent of the RFID printer-applicator market in 2005. The SLPA8000r is available now in North America from Printronix, or through its network of system integrators and partners.
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