CUSTOM TAG DEVELOPMENT
There are many reasons why organisations require customer made tags or tags printed with their company logo. This may be for an event or some project specific branding. Some customers require completely customised housing for their tags or need data added before they can be used.
We work with clients on a wide range of projects needing printed tags or completely customised tags, delivering exactly what is required, on time and to a pre-agreed cost.
You can read about one example of an application where we developed a custom tag for a user in this case study.
Who uses custom tags?
Some of our clients of over-printed tags include primary care trusts, universities, marketing and advertising agencies, event management companies and museums.
Applications for over-printed and customised RFID tags include loyalty schemes, safety applications, research programmes, product promotions and corporate branding. Everything in fact from music festivals to theme parks, from health spas to exhibitions and customer hospitality events.
Is there a need for custom tag development?
Although most common uses of RFID tags can be supported by one of the many standard tags, some applications may require something special. In the past CoreRFID has been asked to provide tags for demanding industrial environments with high magnetic and electrical fields, for attachment to small birds where the weight of the tag is critical, and for tags in rubberized waterproof housings able to withstand the shocks of a runner’s shoes. In each case CoreRFID has worked with the customer to design, specify, source, test and supply the solution. CoreRFID typically provides custom developments in two main areas; housing and attachment and chip and antenna. In addition CoreRFID has developed custom compressed data formats allowing the limited data capacity of tags to be used to best effect, providing the customer with the necessary encoding and decoding algorithms needed to make use of the format within software applications developed by themselves or by CoreRFID.
1. Specialised Tag Housing & Attachment
RFID tags are made up of a chip and its antenna. These are held in some form of housing. While the chip is of course important, the housing is vital too. The housing has the main purpose of protecting the chip against its environment but it also often provides the means by which the tag can be attached.
Specific environments that might require custom tag housings include those where the tag is to be immersed in water or corrosive chemicals, high temperature environments, environments requiring impact resistance, and areas of high magnetic fields or high emf. Custom tag housings also need to take account of the reception qualities of the medium, ensuring that the tag housing does not interfere with the transmission / reception capabilities of the chip.
As well as the physical nature of the housing custom tags can be engraved or overprinted with identifying information or customer logos, allowing the tag to carry visual information as well as electronic data.
Tags can be attached in a number of ways, most commonly by adhesives or by physical attachment (screw or rivet). The selection of adhesives depends on the surface that the tag will attach to, the requirement for durability of attachment, whether the tag needs to be removed and re-attached. Screw or rivet fixing may also place requirements on tag design so that the tag is not damaged during the attachment process. For some tags (for example those used for research on small animals or birds) a strap style fixing may be appropriate. CoreRFID is happy to advise on alternative fixing approaches for different requirements.
CoreRFID also offers custom tag printing and or engraving. Work carried out for CoreRFID customers in the past includes logo printing, tag printing with individual serial numbers and logo embossing on a customised housing.
2. Chip & Antenna
As well as the three common frequency bands (LF, HF & UHF) used for passive tags, RFID systems can also be developed using active tags based on chips which have their own on-board battery. The selection of a particular chip / antenna combination for a particular business application requires an understanding of material physics, electromagnetic performance and the requirements of the application. As an experienced implementer of RFID based solutions over a wide range of technologies and business areas, CoreRFID is ideally placed to work with customers on the selection of the best components for their applications. CoreRFID has worked on projects to determine the optimum antenna configuration for tags where the chip is intended to be used in environments of high magnetic fields and high electrical noise, delivering the data in an optimum way for read reliability.
3. Custom Tag Coding
RFID tags have relatively small data capacities. Most RFID applications simply use the tag to carry an identifying number which then allows data about the tagged object to be retrieved from a database. In this circumstance the data capacity of the tag is unlikely to be a problem. However, in some RFID systems there may be a requirement to encode more data onto the tag. In this case the capacity of the tag may be a limiting factor.
By using data coding and compressing techniques it can become possible to use the tag’s data capacity in a way that allows it to store more than might at first be thought possible.
CoreRFID’s capabilities in software development allow it to design tag coding systems and to create encoding and decoding routines. These allow the customer’s software to supply data in its usual format, the CoreRFID encoding routine takes care of reformatting and encoding the data before writing to the tag. Equally the decoding routine collects data from a tag, unpacks it and places it into field areas ready for the recipient application to deal with.