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RFID Printers

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The question, exactly as received, was...


"What do you know about RFID printers? OK, that's only part of my question ... I've done some digging but not found much about how they work. OK, I can live with a printed antenna but what about the chip itself? Again I can live with the whole PCB/IC technology but is technology really so advanced in this area that I can have a RFID printer on my desk and churn them out? Naaaa. What am I missing here? And what the heck are chipless RFID tags? Or is it that the label stock actually has a RFID tag embedded in each one and the print goes on at the same time as info is loaded onto the tag? THAT I could believe though it doesn't sound cheap."


A: Well, first of all, calm down... You are really addressing two different technologies here....

Q - What do you know about RFID printers?...

A - RFID printers are nothing more than a conventional barcode printer with an RFID write head mounted close to the barcode print head. As not all locations are configured for RFID, a package passing through the supply chain may pass points using different technologies. It is useful therefore, if a package can be read either way - with an RFID reader or a barcode reader. To accommodate this, you could put and RFID chip on a package, and a barcode label. It is easier and quicker to put on a single label that does both, plus it improves system integrity, the barcode and RFID information are less likely to be mismatched.

Q - OK, that's only part of my question ... I've done some digging but not found much about how they work....

A - The software that drives the print mechanism also writes to the RFID tag...

Q - ... OK, I can live with a printed antenna but what about the chip itself?...

A - Yes, some antenna are printed, but the chips are mostly conventional in this application.

Q - Again I can live with the whole PCB/IC technology but is technology really so advanced in this area that I can have a RFID printer on my desk and churn them out? Naaaa.

A - Yes, "Naaa" is the correct answer, the printer merely prints the barcode label, and writes to the RFID chip. So perhaps a slight liberty with the English language...

Q - What am I missing here? And what the heck are chipless RFID tags?...

A - There is work going on for printing the whole tag directly, but this is some way off from real world deployment, and likely to be for specialised applications, and razor blades is the application that comes to mind. I have been told that razor blades are "the most shoplifted item". Presumably the thieves are all clean shaven. Or perhaps not...

Q - Or is it that the label stock actually has a RFID tag embedded in each one and the print goes on at the same time as info is loaded onto the tag?

A - yes, I think you've got it. You didn't really need to send in your question, did you?

Q - THAT I could believe though it doesn't sound cheap.

A - yes, you are correct, but the price is not so bad. Pretty much the same price as an RFID tag and a barcode label...


Back to the FAQ page

SageData is based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

We design, supply and support systems built around RFID, Barcodes and Handheld computers.

For further information, or for advice and assistance with your application, contact Doreen Wallace or Keith Jackson.

Click here to reach SageData by email.

To reach us by phone:
from outside Ottawa, dial 1-888-838-1067
from Ottawa, dial 613 225 4404

Thank you for your interest in our products and services.

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SDSQAP - SDSREF6479


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