Some RFID label manufacturers and vendors of goods are taking advantage of a new technology developed by German company LPKF Laser & Electronics AG. The technology enables the laser-printing of an antenna and circuit board for RFID transmission.
LPKF’s Laser Direct Structuring (LDS) technology is said to be able to reduce the size of RFID tags, thereby making the tag manufacturing process less expensive, while also making it possible for a tag to be incorporated directly onto an item being tracked — even if that product’s surface is three-dimensional, such as a ball.
The LDS process consists of first designing a hard plastic item, such as a hearing aid, automotive part or mobile phone handset; molding that piece of plastic from granulated plastic containing a special additive; and then placing the molded plastic item into a laser machine, which then writes the circuitry onto the part’s surface by activating particles of the plastic additive.
“The advantage is you can now put circuitry on a three-dimensional part,” states Stephan Krause, LPKF’s LDS strategic product manager, by printing the antenna onto something that may not have a flat surface. “The whole process reduces components, such as screws or glue that would be used to attach a label to a product or asset.” Compared with the traditional method of manufacturing RFID tags, he explains, the LDS process eliminates the need to affix a tag to a part, ensuring that tags will not fall off or lose adhesion.