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FLEXO Magazine : August 2008
INDUSTRY INDICATORS diffi culties and this means that drugs will not be checked for genuineness automatically at high speed or even very often compared with RFID. Meanwhile, international biopharmaceutical compa- ny Cephalon has deployed an RFID solu- tion from OAT Systems for serialized shipment container tracking, extending its SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure’s reach to operational processes and workfl ows. Cephalon has been testing RFID technol- ogy for three years to help improve sup- ply chain effi ciency and visibility, and its RFID-based serialized container track- ing, suitable for e-pedigree, will “help the company to combat counter- feiting as well as to improve pro- cess execution.” RFID-enabled blisterpacks and plastic bottles are increasingly used in drug trials that record which pill was removed and when, but the global market for that is only a few million packages yearly. A given trial involves no more than 30,000 packs. It is an interesting application because the sensors are usually printed using silver ink, as are the connecting patterns and some- times the RFID antenna. The new nano- silver inks, with 3nm particles, use less silver and cure at low temperature on low-cost plastic film. They are tailored for fl exo and other forms of printing. MAINLY BOOMING Fortunately RFID is booming in just about every other sector. Having tripled in value in the last two years, the RFID market will quintuple in the next 10 years by value. Some suppliers, such as Avery Dennison, are going vertical in not only making the naked RFID inlays but converting them into printed labels. Avery Dennison recently bought the gi- ant converter Paxar, which does the RFID labels for apparel at retailer Marks and Spencer in the UK, for example—soon to be 350 million yearly—and that means it will now do the whole e-label. It will be well positioned to serve the 60 organiza- tions worldwide that are rolling out RFID labels on apparel, some of them being in the form of stitched designer labels and used for both anti-counterfeiting and stock control and others being simply swing tags for stock control. About 20 billion RFID labels may be fi tted to ap parel in 2018. - HIGH VOLUMES High-volume RFID, such as replacing a signifi cant proportion of the 10 tril- lion barcodes printed yearly with RFID, calls for the silicon chip in the label to be replaced with something printed, not just printing the antenna. That leads to a realization that printed RFID is only part million orders this year for RFID tags and systems—one military and the other for non-stop road tolling—and techni- cal breakthroughs are coming thick and fast. For example, it is now clear that the silicon chip in traditional RFID tags will never be supplied profi tably or sustain - ably below a price of a few cents. Yet the whole tag must drop below one cent if hundreds of billions are to be sold. Fortunately, printed transistor circuits with printed antennas attached are be- ing developed by 360 organizations, partly for the new printed RFID. They are variously made by fl exography, gravure, inkjet and screen printing and often combinations of these for the different layers. As yet, this is in the laboratory, though several companies say they will be selling products by the end of 2008. PRINTING TRANSISTORS Kovio inkjet prints nano-silicon The leading shapes of RFID tags by number of projects. of an emerging $300 billion business in printing many forms of electronics. For instance, Leonhard Kurz of Germany, employing 2,000 people, now develops non-inkjet printed transistors to replace that chip, as well as printed solar cells and an innovative printed RFID antenna. Flexography is certainly used by some manufacturers of printed transistor circuits. Most RFID tags take the form of labels nowadays, not the plastic mouldings used in the past. Starting with RFID la- bels with just the antenna printed, there is now steady progress toward tagging 4 billion items of air baggage and freight each year and 70 million passports a year, where the high security chips mean that these inserts are $5 each, not the giveaway price of 10 cents for labels on pallets and cases. In four cities of China, about 40 million books will be RFID la- belled this year and there are many more applications like that. Two companies are servicing $500 transistors reel-to-reel on stain- less steel foil with thousand of these transistors per RFID tag. It says it can meet the world’s most popular RFID specifi cations ISO 14443/ ISO 15693 as used in library books, pass- ports, drug packages and RFID cards and tickets. It will launch these shortly as standard transport tickets. There are 20 billion tickets bought in the world every year and the Chinese National Railway is trialling 120 million chip-based tick- ets with a view to replacing its 3 billion rail tickets every year as the price comes down. Kovio says it can achieve 80 per- cent cost reduction on the RFID chip now and 90 percent reduction in two years. IDTechEx forecasts that, if printed tags drop below one cent, about 500 bil- lion will be fi tted to consumer goods in 2018. Early experiments with printed elec- tronics tended to use screen printing. Today, the process is still used for mem- brane keyboards, laminar batteries and capacitors, and some RFID antennas. Resistors and conductors in battery tes- ters have now moved on to volume pro- duction with gravure because they sell in 40 F LEXO AUGUS T 20 0 8 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008