How Far Can RFID Penetrate Wood?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsHow Far Can RFID Penetrate Wood?
RFID Journal Staff asked 5 years ago

We would like to scan a pallet of three-quarter-inch-thick pieces of particle board. The bottom label would be under 24 inches of particle board. Could a UHF RFID tag be read under these conditions?

—Bob

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Bob,

The amount of wood through which a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID transponder can be read depends on a number of factors. One is the density of the wood. RF energy has a harder time penetrating very dense materials.

Another factor is the amount of moisture in the wood. Water absorbs RF energy in the UHF spectrum, which is why a microwave oven is able to warm up food. So if the wood were very moist, the energy would be absorbed by the water and never reach the tag.

The third issue is the tagged object’s distance from the reader antenna. An RFID tag’s signal weakens the father away it is from a reader, so if there is not a strong signal from a nearby antenna, then the energy would not penetrate the wood.

I would say you should be able to read a tag through a three-quarter-inch-thick piece of particle board, as long as it isn’t very wet. I doubt, however, that you could read a tag through 24 inches of particle board.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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