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Printed Electronics World
Posted on April 7, 2008 by  & 

3M advances in RFID on a broad front

The giant corporation 3M is advancing in RFID on a broad front. It is one of the leading RFID system integrators in libraries, where it has tended to use Texas Instruments HF inlays that are not yet printed, and its balls with self levelling RFID tags in them for location and identity are buried along the length of gas and other pipelines in the USA and are starting to perform a similar function in China - see our article China repositions in RFID and prints more Part 2.

RFID tape and printed RFID

The 3M project to provide location for snow plows and other vehicles by RFID tape alongside freeways was abandoned some years ago but 3M has a major program to print RFID labels using reel to reel printed transistors and antennas. In this division, the printed electronics activities encompass:
  • Logic organic
  • Memory
  • Other components
  • Printing inkjet
  • RFID
  • Production machinery

Many patents on printed electronics

An example of one of its many patents on organic transistors is one covering an organic thin film transistor comprising a self-assembled monolayer interposed between a gate dielectric and an organic semiconductor layer. The monolayer is a product of a reaction between the gate dielectric and a precursor to the self-assembled monolayer. Another patent concerns an organic Schottky diode which includes a polycrystalline organic semiconductor layer with a rectifying contact on one side of the layer. An amorphous doped semiconductor layer is placed on the other side of the polycrystalline organic semiconductor layer, and it acts as a buffer between the semiconductor layer and an ohmic contact layer. Another patent says "Inkjet printable compositions containing styrenic polymers, typically cyano-functional styrenic polymers, with relatively high dielectric constants k, along with additional optional ingredients, such as inorganic particles are disclosed."

3M's Traffic Safety Systems Division

Now yet another division of 3M has entered the fray. Sirit Inc. ("Sirit") (TSX: SI), a leading provider of radio frequency identification ("RFID") technology, has just announced that it has signed a cooperative marketing agreement ("CMA") with 3M's Traffic Safety Systems Division. The CMA is a global distribution agreement to offer RFID reader and tag technology based on open architecture protocols to support comprehensive solutions developed for the transportation market.
3M, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based company, is a leading supplier of materials and systems to departments of motor vehicles and ministries of transportation around the world. The partnership immediately facilitates Sirit's efforts to penetrate the transportation marketplace and makes the IDentity 5100 reader and transponder solution easily accessible to transportation agencies who look to 3M for trusted traffic technology solutions.
"We are extremely excited to partner with 3M to meet the needs of transportation agencies around the world and particularly to address the rapidly emerging EVR marketplace," said John Freund, Vice President AVI Solutions, Sirit Inc. "As a trusted and premier global traffic solutions provider, 3M offers customers the opportunity to purchase products which have been rigorously tested and approved to the highest quality standards."
Freund adds that, "this partnership exposes Sirit and our IDentity brand to 3M's elite global audience. Customers who have enjoyed a long-standing and supportive relationship with 3M can now rely on them for an expanded suite of transportation solutions including electronic tolling, vehicle emissions testing and proof of insurance compliance as well as EVR."
The companies anticipate jointly targeting transportation markets in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe where the addressable registered vehicle opportunities are in excess of half a billion.
According to Terry Griffith, 3M's International Marketing Manager, Traffic Safety Systems Division, Vehicle Registration Systems Business, the CMA is another example of 3M's continued focus on delivering the latest, most innovative technology solutions and products to its traffic and transportation customer base. The relationship enables 3M's 70 plus subsidiaries to offer their customers attractive solutions that solve a variety of critical challenges facing these agencies.
"After extensively testing other available RFID products, we are very pleased to add Sirit's innovative products to our portfolio," Terry Griffith added. "We believe this partnership will benefit our customers by offering RFID solutions that are based on open standard technology, as well as bringing additional RFID expertise to our projects through Sirit's highly experienced technical team."
"While our initial focus will be targeted at worldwide EVR opportunities, Sirit's IDentity 5100 is a versatile solution which can be applied to many transportation applications," continued Freund. "Industry estimates suggest that a significant number of vehicles are not properly maintained or insured, impacting the environment, public safety and agency revenue. Applying the IDentity 5100 solution, agencies can implement compliance programs which can combat these issues in a meaningful way."
SIRIT, a spinoff from Texas Instruments, makes HF and UHF tags and readers and it is involved in both passive and active RFID. If the 3M printed electronics activity described above is successful, it could be used to replace the Texas Instruments and SIRIT products mentioned above, that 3M currently uses, with something thinner, more flexible and lower in cost. After all, much of the 3M business revolves around expertise in tapes, laminates, patches and labels. The world of electronics is coming to its door.

About 3M Traffic Safety Systems Division

The 3M Traffic Safety Systems Division has been a world leader in transportation safety products and systems for nearly 70 years. The division employs advanced technologies to enhance roadway safety, efficiency and traffic management through signing, pavement marking and vehicle registration solutions. Information on the full line of 3M transportation safety products and systems is available at

About 3M - A global, diversified technology company

Every day, 3M people find new ways to make amazing things happen. Wherever they are, whatever they do, the company's customers know they can rely on 3M to help make their lives better. 3M's brands include Scotch, Post-it, Scotchgard, Thinsulate, Scotch-Brite, Filtrete, Command and Vikuiti. Serving customers in more than 200 countries around the world, the people of 3M use their expertise, technologies and global strength to lead in major markets including consumer and office; display and graphics; electronics and telecommunications; safety, security and protection services; health care; industrial and transportation. For more information, including the latest product and technology news, visit External Link.

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Posted on: April 7, 2008

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