Startup OrganicID is working on creating a plastic RFID tag that it expects will bring down the price to sub one cent. Silicon chips are created through a subtractive process - elements are added, then removed. The cost of silicon wafers means it is unliekly that sub one cent tags based on a silicon chip can ever be made, even in the highest volumes.
The plastic chip employs a much cheaper additive process: Special inks containing organic semiconductors, dielectrics, and conductors are printed onto plastic. Refining the process and making it commercially viable (moving from a lab to a print house), which must be extremely precise, remains the major challenge. CEO Klaus Dimmler hopes to market the plastic tags, which will operate in the 13.56-MHz range, within 2 to 2.5 years.
Others are also exploring the possibilities, as well, including PolyIC GmbH, a joint venture between Siemens AG and Kurz GmbH KG, Motorla and others. Some 35 companies are globally developing plastic electronics - but not all prioritise RFID.