TI to Begin Production of Gen 2 Inlays, Straps

By Jonathan Collins

Texas Instruments says it will soon begin volume manufacturing of EPC Generation 2 inlays and straps, with more than 1 million inlays set for July.

  • TAGS

Bringing its significant experience, production capabilities and global reach to Gen 2 tag production, semiconductor giant Texas Instruments (TI) says it will begin volume manufacturing of EPCglobal's EPC Generation 2 inlays and straps next month, with more than 1 million inlays set to be produced in July alone.

The company believes that once it starts shipping Gen 2 inlays and straps, there will be a quick ramp-up in demand that it can match. "That type of volume is just the beginning. We have the capacity to move from a single million, to tens and to hundreds of millions of inlays and straps per month over the next 18 to 24 months," says Enu Waktola, EPC retail supply chain marketing manager for Texas Instruments RFid Systems (TI-RFid).

Enu Waktola

TI's initial tag production levels are expected to meet immediate demand. "There is certainly demand for these numbers of labels," says Erik Michielsen, director of RFID and Ubiquitous Networks at ABI Research, "as we expect retailers to start deploying Gen 2 technology over the next three months and through to 2006."

TI anticipates that consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies will soon be testing and deploying Gen 2 technology. "We expect to see a number of significant Gen 2 pilots in July, and a move to production starting in August, from a CPG perspective," says Waktola.

Label converters and printer manufacturers will incorporate TI's Gen 2 inlays and straps into finished labels. In April, TI named 12 label converters and printer manufacturers—Avery Dennison, AWID, Datamax, FEIG Electronic, Paxar, Printronix, SATO, Sirit, SAMSys, ThingMagic, WJ Communications and Zebra Technologies—as its partners for developing Gen 2 tags. After receiving its first production run of Gen 2 chips from a third-party chipmaker in June, TI says, it shipped tens of thousands of samples of its RFID Gen 2 inlays and straps to those label converter and printer vendors. The majority of the 12 companies have already received inlays from TI; the rest are set to see their first inlays within the next few weeks, Waktola states.

While TI will manufacture both inlays and straps, it believes the vast majority of the market will be for inlays—at least for a year or so. "Interest in straps today is just with leading adopters. We expect to produce around 100,000 straps in the July-August time frame, with demand [for straps] taking 12 to 18 months to match demand for inlays," says Waktola.

TI is producing the inlays and straps at its Malaysia plant alongside its existing RFID tag-production operations.