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Cosmetics and Liquor Companies Assess Toppan Printing's Holographic RFID Labels

If the tags meet performance and cost criteria, the companies will begin using them, with the goal of preventing counterfeiting and illegal distribution of their products.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 02, 2008A Japanese importer of alcoholic beverages and a cosmetics manufacturer are reviewing Toppan Printing Co. RFID Crystagram label, which combines 2.4 GHz passive RFID tag and a unique holographic image.

The beverage importer is looking to use the RFID Crystagram label to help prevent its products from being counterfeited or diverted into illegal channels and would also like to offer its customers a guarantee that the products are authentic. "They took an interest in our RFID Crystagram because it can solve both their requirements," says Takuya Onuki, a Toppan Printing securities and cards specialist. The label is designed to be attractive and provide both visual authentication for customers, and the electronic trail that RFID provides. The company is still estimating the total cost required for the implementation.

Toppan Printing's Takuya Onuki
The cosmetics manufacturer is studying RFID Crystagram's potential for preventing its high-quality shampoo from being diverted or replaced with fraudulent products. The company did not want to place an RFID label on its product that might look unattractive to customers, Onuki says, "so they thought our RFID Crystagram would be a possible solution."

Toppan Printing Co.—with the help of Hitachi and Hitachi Chemical—developed a hybrid RFID-hologram label for high-value items such as wines and electronics. The label became commercially available in February, and Toppan is in discussion with potential customers, including the beverage importer and cosmetics manufacturer, although the customers have yet to carry out pilot deployments involving the RFID Crystagram, and testing has been accomplished by Toppan in-house.

Because of sales through the Internet, the number of forged items being bought and sold worldwide is growing, says Onuki. Holograms and optical devices are often used on labels of high-value items to prevent these forgeries. With the RFID Crystagram, Toppan Printing is providing a label that combines a hologram with a tiny Hitachi RFID chip known as the µ-chip (pronounced mu-chip). The µ-chip, which transmits at 2.45 GHz and uses a proprietary air-interface protocol, is 0.4 millimeters in length and width, and 4.5 micrometers thick. Hitachi Chemical has integrated the µ-chip into a hologram. An aluminum layer on the hologram acts as the RFID antenna, giving the resulting RFID tag a read range of about 20 millimeters. Each chip carries a unique ID number and has a memory capacity of 128 bits, enough for the 38-digit ID number. That number can be linked in a back-end system to the product details such as where it was manufactured and when, as well as other descriptive details.

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