The current generation of RFID tags contain silicon chips and are mainly used for high-priced products because of the complex manufacturing processes involved. Printed electronic technology will reduce the cost of RFID tag production thanks to the development of new materials such as electrically conductive and semiconducting plastics that can be employed in high throughput printing processes. This will make printed radio frequency identification tags suitable for use in cheaper consumer goods so that they may even come to replace printed barcodes.
PolyIC leads the consortium engaged in the three-year joint project. The total investment sum amounts to some €15 million, with the BMBF contributing approximately €8 million. The project is funded as part of the BMBF’s 5th Framework Program “Key Technologies – Research for Innovations, Communications Technology Sector.”
The German Aerospace Center, DLR, is acting as project sponsor. With MaDriX, the companies involved in the alliance and the federal ministry will secure Germany’s current leadership as a research base in the printable electronics sector. Goods labeled with RFID tags can be identified by radiowaves and are used in applications from logistics through to supermarket checkouts. They also make products harder to fake.
The gradual launch of printed RFID tags within the next 10 years is a realistic prospect. The close cooperation between the companies involved is a key to the success of the MaDriX project. PolyIC engages with the issues of component characterization, process development and setting up demonstrators. BASF, Evonik Industries and Elantas Beck will supply new materials to produce semiconductors and insulators for use in electronic circuits. Siemens is developing new real-time visual print inspection processes for quality control in the printing process. A number of universities and research institutes are also involved in the MaDriX project.