Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

Printed-Electronics RFID Tags: From Promise to Reality

High-frequency tags with printed electronics could be cheaper than conventional RFID tags—and could pave the way for a host of new applications.
By Jill Gambon
Aug 01, 2008—RFID tags made with printed electronics, long thought to be years away from widespread availability, are moving closer to hitting the market en masse. Printed electronics is an emerging technology that uses standard printing processes to enable low-cost manufacturing of a variety of devices, including RFID tags, flexible displays, batteries and transistors. Companies such as Kovio and PolyIC, which have both produced high-frequency tags with printed integrated circuits (ICs), are now fine-tuning their offerings and gearing up for increased production.

Tags with printed electronics hold the promise of lower prices, because commercial printing processes are used to produce the ICs that power the tags instead of the expensive and complicated method of silicon fabrication used in manufacturing conventional silicon chips. The tags, the companies say, can be produced with less capital expense and shorter production cycles. Kovio, a Silicon Valley venture-backed company, says it can manufacture its tags' ICs in a single day, compared with the 90 days it takes to make traditional silicon chips.

Last November, Kovio made a splash in the printed-electronics world when it introduced a thin-film transistor (TFT) printed with silicon ink on a flexible, stainless-steel foil substrate. The transistor is a component of an IC, which contains multiple TFTs that control various functions on the chip. The printed ICs are key to producing RFID tags that cost just pennies, the company says. Kovio has been continuing development of HF tags that use the printed ICs and expects an official product launch later this year. In June, Kovio moved into a 95,000-square-foot headquarters in Milpitas, Calif., that includes space for expanded manufacturing operations. The company says it will provide engineering samples to customers in the second half of this year and expects to ramp up production in 2009.

Last September, PolyIC—a five-year-old joint venture between Siemens and Leonhard Kurz Stiftung, headquartered in Fuerth, Germany—unveiled its PolyID tags, with printed chips that use mostly organic materials. The HF tags comprise roll-to-roll printed transponder chips, based on the polymer semiconductor polythiophene, printed on flexible polyester film. Customers are currently testing the tags, but the company says it is prohibited from identifying them due to privacy agreements.

While PolyIC has optimized its tags for the initial application of authentication, it envisions a far wider market. "Lower-cost tags with printed RFID enables RFID everywhere," says Wolfgang Mildner, managing director of PolyIC. The company is now scaling up production of the tags.

Both Kovio and PolyIC are focusing on HF tags in their initial product releases because of the ubiquity of applications that operate in that range. In addition, the tag design to support those applications is less complex, requiring less memory and processing power. "The more memory you put into the chip, the more complicated it is to manufacture," Mildner says.

While the read range of the HF tags may be limited—a few centimeters for PolyIC's tags and about half a meter (1.6 feet) for Kovio's—the companies say that's enough for such applications as authentication, access control and ticketing. Both companies also say they will offer UHF tags over time, as the printed-electronics technology matures and if there is demand.
To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 1,459 words and 3 pages. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations
© Copyright 2002-2016 RFID Journal LLC.
Powered By: Haycco