RFID develops new market for printing industry

Foreign magazines report: Electronic tags such as radio frequency identification (RFID) will become a new big market for printers and ink manufacturers. Recently, radio frequency identification (RFID) and electronic label conferences were held in Cambridge, England. Experts at the conference generally believe that the demand for this new, low-cost technology is growing rapidly. The conference predicts that by 2007, the global electronic label market will reach 4 billion, and in 2013 it will reach 10 billion.

According to statistics, the sales volume of electronic labels in the world was 1.5 billion tons in 2003, and it is expected to reach billions of tons by 2007. It will reach at least 5 billion tons in six years, but it cannot be predicted. When the demand reaches tens of dollars In the case of 100 million tons, the electronic label produced by the printing house using electronic ink and existing printing equipment will occupy a large proportion. It is believed that this depends to a large extent on the success of microprocessors and suppliers of electronic materials in the development of plastic chips, and also on the application of alternative, low cost silicon semiconductor alternatives.

Conductive polyesters have the required softness and processability, making printing a viable method for producing electronic labels and related products on a large scale and at low cost. However, even if the technical problems of the development of conductive polyester are solved, it is doubtful whether the developed conductive polyester can be efficiently sold at a low price, because it is necessary to compensate for a large amount of research and development costs, and the price thereof will not be very low. As a result, existing RFID tag producers who plan to become the main players in this big market are working on methods that can be mass produced similar to web printing.

Opportunities for printers

In the low-cost electronics era, printers are still competitive. The main advantage of printing is that it is fast, 10 times faster than the method used by RFID tag producers, and therefore, the cost is much lower.

The big breakthrough for printers is electronic display technology. Some companies have introduced a large number of printing methods and systems. Some companies have successfully tested a new generation of electronic color-developing inks on greeting cards. Some companies study the display of numbers and portraits on cards and labels based on the discoloration of the ink when low energy is applied.

In the early days of electronic label production, screen printing will be mainly used, but mass production methods such as flexographic printing and gravure printing should be used.

Currently, printers and electronic ink manufacturers can produce electronic tags with micro-processing capabilities close to 100bIT, enough to provide information like bar codes, such as manufacturers, product serial numbers and lot numbers. Once the electronic tag provides a certain amount of information, the RFID will replace at least the bar code used on the box and the pallet.

According to reports, in 2003, there were approximately 500 million RFID tags used in logistics transportation worldwide. Once such labels are applied to pallets and containers, the demand for this is only 2 billion a year. If the use of air baggage is expanded, the demand for electronic tags will increase by 200 million a year.

Retail industry

Some global brands of chain stores and consumer goods manufacturers have plans to switch to RFID tags on boxes and pallets in the next few years. Some companies are experimenting with the introduction of RFID tags in warehouses and implementing Electronic Product Code (EPC) standards, which means they will need 5 billion tags. By early 2006, all suppliers will be able to provide online tracking of all the boxes in the Wal-Mart distribution network.

Frontline observers believe that RFID tags are growing globally, and the main force behind them will come from manufacturers of big brands such as Coca-Cola, Gillette, SaraLee, Unilever and Nestle.

RFID tag price

The speed of RFID tag growth will be driven by cost. According to Coca-Cola, the price of each tag will drop from the current low level of 30-50 cents to 5 cents before electronic tags are used on all boxes and pallets. . This means that 1 billion labels will be needed each year. According to existing RFID tag producers, they are developing production methods that achieve the above unit price levels. Once the label price drops to 1 cent, it is economical to put such a label on each consumer product. Products that use this label first are expensive items such as DVDs, CDs, batteries, perfumes, cigarettes, and the like. Experts predict that by 2015, about 10% of products will be electronically tagged.

The price of 1 cent or less is 1 billion, bringing the total demand for electronic tags to billions and developing many new applications, such as bank checks, stamps, certificates and archive files. At such a low price, printing not only becomes a competitive production method, but also enables the mass production of RFID tags with almost no additional capital investment.

Material costs

The main problem in the future is the gap between the cost of the core silicon chip of the RFID tag and the cost of the electronic ink of the integrated circuit. At that time, silicon chips accounted for a large proportion of the cost of electronic tags. The use of new large-scale production equipment can reduce the unit price of labels to 30 cents, and silicon chips account for 60%-75% of the total unit price. According to German electronic label equipment manufacturers, the price of silicon chips will not fall below 2 cents for a long period of time. The cost of other materials is about 2.5 cents. The rest is processing costs. In short, material costs. Still accounts for the majority of the total cost. It has been warned that the cost of materials for electronic inks can become extremely expensive once billions of electronic tags are needed. For low-cost labels, the price of silver is too high.

At present, Siemens AG of Germany is using screen printing, gravure and flexographic printing technology to produce plastic integrated circuits with polymer electrodes, insulators and semiconductors in the laboratory, and the price of conductive polymers used is as high as $200 per gram. They are developing reel-to-reel technology that makes printed electronic labels like printed newspapers.

Due to material costs and technical obstacles, the progress of the Siemens program will be slowed down. They will first focus on the production of anti-counterfeit trademarks with a capacity of 16bIT. They plan to start with a simple start and work hard to find a production method for rolls to rolls that are suitable for mass production. It is expected that a product will be put into the market in about three years. It takes 10 years to produce an RFID tag with a capacity of 96 bits.

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