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Chemical Maker Exax Expands Into RFID

The South Korean company plans to produce HF and UHF antennas and inlays, as well as convert them into RFID tags, labels and tickets, initially focusing on the Asia Pacific market.
By Dave Friedlos
Jul 24, 2008South Korean chemical manufacturer Exax is planning a move into the RFID market, following its recent investment in antenna- and label-making equipment.

Earlier this year, Exax announced it had purchased a dedicated rotary-screen printing line from Stork Prints that would make it the first company to produce both high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) antennas in a single pass. This month, the firm purchased complete RFID factory equipment from German technology group Mühlbauer for its Cheonan plant, in order to enable the production of RFID inlays, label conversion and label insertion.

Exax purchased Mühlbauer's TAL 10,000 automatic inlay-production machine, CL 15000 converting machine and IL 15000 inlay-insertion system.

Exax intends to use the new equipment to produce RFID antennas, dry inlays, wet (adhesive-backed) inlays, tags and tickets. The company opted to expand into RFID label production after developing a conductive silver solvent-based ink for antenna printing, according to Seong Kon Chi, VP of European marketing. Later this year, it plans to begin producing RFID labels, tickets and tags to capitalize on the growing worldwide demand for RFID.

"Chemical manufacturing is our core competency," Kon Chi says, "but we realized there was significant demand for HF and UHF antennae, and our unique conductive ink gives us an advantage in the production. So we approached both Stork Prints and Mühlbauer to provide a complete system for RFID label production. We will focus primarily on the production of HF and UHF antennae. When the printing equipment is installed in September, we expect to print up to 800,000 antennae an hour."

Exax, Kon Chi says, plans to ramp up production quickly, but to first focus on the domestic and Asia Pacific market before expanding into the European and American markets. The firm, he adds, intends to target big business with its RFID antennas and labels. "We will approach card manufacturers first," he says, "because we believe the antenna we provide, with its conductive ink, is unique. But we believe the number of applications for HF and UHF will continue to widen in coming years. We will look at HF and UHF tags for ticket manufacturers and air baggage tags, which we believe there will be large demand for in the future."

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