A special project called MaDriX, which brings together five German companies to develop a new generation of printable radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, has been launched under the sponsorship of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; Berlin). The current generation of RFID tags contain silicon chips and are mainly used for high-priced products because of the complexity of RFID manufacturing. The alliance foresees printed-electronic technology being able to reduce the cost of RFID tag production thanks to new materials such as electrically conductive and semi-conductive plastics that can be produced in high-throughput print processes. These could eventually replace barcodes used today.
The consortium in the three-year joint project is led by PolyIC (Fürth), a 51:49 joint venture between hot stamping and coating specialist Leonhard Kurz and electronics giant Siemens. Others in the alliance are polymer and additives supplier BASF (Ludwigshafen), chemical and energy company Evonik Industries (formerly Degussa; Essen), electrical insulation provider Elantas Beck (Hamburg), and Siemens (Berlin and Munich).
Total R&D investment is expected to be euro 15 million, of which the BMBF will contribute euro 8 million from taxpayers money. The German Aerospace Center (Wessling) is acting as a project sponsor. Products labeled with such RFID tags can be identified by radio waves, help fight counterfeiting, and be used in applications from logistics to supermarket checkouts. The alliance says it expects to see a gradual launch of printed RFID tags within the next 10 years.[email protected]