Barcodes May Face Extinction with New Printable RFID Tags

A Barcode
A Barcode

(RFIDWorld.ca) If radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags become less costly at a rate of one cent per piece, barcodes may decrease at a much faster rate than expected.  Currently RFID tags cost about ten cents apiece but it is not unrealistic to see the price drop down overtime.  Now South Korean researchers say that they have the technology to print RFID circuits on plastic film as a result ink that contains nanotube, capacitors as well as diodes.

The first printed RFID tags made of printed transistors based on carbon nanotubes are expected to come up later this year and will be the first of its kind on the market.  Printing in the context of RFID tags means an application of nanotube ink, capacitors, diodes, as well as different layers of antenna coils.

Common printing methods such as roll-to-roll printing, ink-jet printing, and silicone rubber-stamping have been used by the Sunchon National University in South Korea to print out plastic RFID tags.  The researchers have used common industrial methods to make this type of RFID tag available as an option for stores at a decent price.

So far, the makers of the tags have been able to bring down the price of the tags to a reasonable three cents but are trying to bring that down further to one cent apiece.  They can do this only if they can come up with a method to place all the nanotube layers in one go.  Once this is possible, the one cent apiece price will also be more realistic.  On average most RFID tags cost from 7 cents to 15 cents at the least.

There are still some issues that need to be dealt with before these tags can be seen in supermarkets.  The current prototypes are three times the size of a barcode and can only store one bit of information which only allows you to give a yes or no answer to the RFID tag reader.  Also these tags only work with readers placed within 10 centimetres of the tags themselves which does not make them completely feasible yet in terms of the power signals.

These problems should be solved with the 64-bit tag which is set to come out sometime next year followed by a 96-bit tag which will be the all-star of all RFID tags to this very day.

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