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Deal Brings Conductive Inks to EU

Coates Screen has signed a deal to distribute in Europe Parelec's conductive inks, which can be used to print RFID antennas.
By Bob Violino
May 27, 2003May 28, 2003 - Parelec Inc., a maker of conductive inks and pastes, has signed an agreement with Coates Screen of Kent, UK, in which Coates will sell and distribute Parelec’s Parmod VLT inks and Modflex specialty circuit substrates throughout the U.K. and Europe. Coates, which is part of Sun Chemical subsidiary The Coates Group, expects to sell the high-conductivity inks mainly to printers of RFID labels and antennas.
Coates' Parkinson

"There is a great demand from existing and new clients to develop and refine processes in this arena," says Andy Parkinson, global marketing manager of RFID products at Coates Screen. "How much of it will be commercialized is difficult to measure. There are high expectations that a printed solution will provide cost benefits, but the possible reduction in antenna cost may be small relative to the cost of the chip, chip placement and converting the inlet into a label, tag or card."

Coates Screen has a diverse customer base that includes companies that produce printed circuit boards, labels, packaging, newspapers and magazines, sports equipment, clothing, and beverage cans and bottles. "There may be an RFID application in all these market areas," Parkinson says. "Our customers are forward thinking, constantly hunting for new opportunities to achieve added value and differentiate themselves. RFID and other printed functional applications may help them achieve this goal."

Parkinson says there are a number of "waste and wet treatment issues and increasing costs to consider" with conventional copper antennas, which are etched with chemicals to remove elements. "Additive inks may seem expensive, but have a surprisingly low cost in use," he says. "They can be printed just where they are required onto paper, PET, PEN, Polyimide and a whole raft of other materials. The printer can choose the substrate thickness, conductor thickness and ink application method to best suit the application."

With the right drying equipment, Parkinson says, the process of manufacturing antennas using an additive technique is within the reach of a large number of Coates Screen’s customers. "The interest in additive print is driven by cost reduction, application speed, process suitability and flexibility," he says.

When will we see RFID tags with printed antennas hit the market? "Printed antennas are here now," Parkinson says. "The applications for printed additive antennas have begun with contact-less mass transit tickets, access control cards, smart labels. The performance of additive constructions can match their etched metal equivalents."

To satisfy the expected demand for RFID devices in 2005 and beyond, he says, a greater number of antennas must be produced by additive printed techniques.

Parkinson says the Parmod VLT inks will complement Coates’ range of specialty inks. Steve Ludmerer, president of Parelec, based in Rocky Hill, NJ, says the agreement with Coates is a key step for Parelec in its effort to expand market penetration and worldwide adoption of its Parmod VLT inks. -- By Bob Violino, bviolion@rfidjournal.com

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