A plastic 12bit RFID tag and read-out system with screen-printed circuitry has been developed and demonstrated by Quad Industries, Agfa, imec and TNO.
The system is said to integrate, for the first time, a screen-printed antenna and a printed touch-based user interface, allowing implementation of the reader on curved surfaces. The demonstrator has been designed for security badge applications, but could find use in smart packaging, wearables and interactive games.
The access badge combines a credit-card size printed antenna and an RFID chip, integrated on a flexible plastic substrate. The RFID tag is manufactured using imec’s metal-oxide TFT technology, said to allow for inexpensive production in large quantities. The 12bit RFID developed for this demonstration contains 438 TFTs.
The read-out system contains innovative printed functionality at different levels. Firstly, an RFID read-out antenna is screen-printed on a plastic film, allowing optimal integration on flat, curved or 3D shaped reader surfaces. A fully printed touchscreen interface with numerical keypad has been added between the cover lens and the display to allow users without a badge to access the building by entering a numerical code. The printed touchscreen was printed using highly transparent screen-printed inks.
Wim Christiaens, R&D director for Quad Industries, said: “The antenna is printed at the same level as the printed touch screen, resulting in more cost effective integration of the printed antenna and the customised touch screen in the reader device.”
“This demonstration is a noteworthy example of hybrid flexible electronics, combining the advantages of plastic electronics with metal-oxide TFT technology developed by imec and TNO,” said Kris Myny, principal member of the technical staff at imec. “The technology allows for low-cost screen-printing manufacturing, is easily customisable and eco-friendly, and enables direct chip integration on various substrates, including plastics and paper. The technology promises applications in smart packaging, smart gaming and smart PCB.”