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Printed Electronics World
Posted on April 29, 2013 by  & 

Collaboration for developing flexible RFID antenna printing technology

Mühlbauer and NovaCentrix are pleased to announce the establishment of a formal collaboration to bring to market advanced new RFID antenna manufacturing technology. Under the agreement, Mühlbauer will develop, produce and market scalable antenna production systems "APS" for RFID inlay/label manufacturers incorporating NovaCentrix' state-of-the-art PulseForge photonic curing tools and optimized for use of NovaCentrix' low-cost, high-performance Metalon ICI copper oxide reduction inks.
With this step Mühlbauer is finally completing its long-term strategy to provide a complete turn-key solution for realizing the most flexible, fully integrated and cost efficient RFID factory including antenna production, inlay assembly, label converting and personalization.
"We are committed to providing our customers the most suitable technologies for all production steps to be successful in RFID inlay and label manufacturing," said Thomas Betz, Member of the Management Board for Mühlbauer. "Based on our careful evaluation of the PulseForge tools and Metalon ICI inks, we believe partnering with the NovaCentrix team is in the
long-term best interests of Mühlbauer and our customers for realizing the most efficient RFID antenna manufacturing - directly before attaching the chip. "
The first version of the reel to reel antenna manufacturing line, "APS 20000", will be designed to provide a capacity of 100 million antennas per year. Bigger versions will be available upon market request. The system consists of modules for printing, drying, photonic curing, and quality control.
Other processes can be integrated on request. The goal of this highly flexible and scalable concept is to further increase the competitive advantages of the RFID inlay and label manufacturers by enabling them to produce their antennas in house with very short reaction times and to achieve further cost reduction by a significantly improved cost of ownership, especially for antennas on paper substrates.
The PulseForge® family of tools uses the patented photonic curing process to heat functional inks and thin films in milliseconds without heating underlying or adjacent substrates. The tools are used to dry, sinter, or anneal thin-film materials on substrate materials such as polymers and paper.
Unlike traditional oven technologies, the transient nature of the process heats thin films to a high temperature on low-temperature substrates without causing damage. The low-cost Metalon ICI series of inks are formulated with copper-oxide nanoparticles along with a reduction agent, in water. After the ink is printed, a PulseForge tool is used to drive a reduction reaction thereby converting the copper oxide into a thin film of highly conductive copper. Importantly, this process is performed in ambient air on low temperature substrates at speeds exceeding 30 meters/minute. Engineering teams from each company have already begun work and beta customers for early product trials are expected later this year.
Source: Novacentrix
Top image: GTS
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