Hassle Free Tips On Printing RFID Tags
Radio Frequency identification is the latest system of identification to be applied to businesses and products. RFID tags are printed with special labels printers and encoders.
While there are many designs, standards and protocol that may be adopted for printing these tags, a set of hassle free tips can be delineated that would encompass the best practices in the field. Smart label printers and encoders use a media system with an RFID inlay, which is a combination of a chip and an antenna. This is generally implanted inside the material of the label. The use of radio frequency transmission by the printer enables the RFID encoder inside it to write the data on the tag. The transmission focuses only on the location of the tag inside the label, while the graphics, text and the barcodes get printed in the customary manner.
Some of the tips to make printing of tags hassle free include:
Selection of Media is important since it must fit in with the printer and application. This is imperative for RFID tags since they characterize minimal interference, have a large reading range, and provide data integrity. These characteristics are possible only with smart labels of the best quality. The smart label has to be able to transfer data precisely and accurately while protecting the inlay and avoiding interference of any kind.
Chip position must match the Printer and Encoder: Businesses needing smart labels need to be aware of their inlay requirements, designs and frequency of their applications. The media they select must be aligned to the model of the encoder and printer so that the encoding process is smooth. The media provider has to keep in mind the specifications of the printer while designing smart labels and printers carry a list of the designs they support.
Smart labels must not use foil or metal-based labels since they interfere directly with RFID. They limit its range of operation and also impede the encoding process.
Liquids also interfere with the functioning of the RFID system. They tend to absorb RF signals and prevent them from being read. The adhesives put on label media are a liquid source, attracting water, which again leads to problems of performance efficiency. Hence synthetic media and laminates are preferred since they do not absorb water.
Smart media labels work within a wide temperature range and this must preferably be kept between –51 and +95 degrees centigrade.
Electro static discharges must also be restricted and their risk increases at higher altitudes with low humidity levels. ESD tends to adversely affect smart label performance, and therefore protection must be provided from it.
The choice of a printer must be made after considering their deliverables and preference must be given to printers having flexible error settings so that external intervention is not always necessary each time a problem arises and can be resolved by adjusting the settings.
Printer placement at a reasonable distance from other RF products also helps to increase efficiency of the printer.
Success of the encoding process would be higher if the printer could perform tag quality checks at two levels, once before receiving the data and next after the data has been written on the chip to ensure its accuracy. The purpose behind this is to guarantee proper alignment of the label edges so that the tag can be perfectly encoded.
Printers must be programmed to retry encoding after a failed attempt because often a second attempt is successful. If on the other hand, the printer issues a warning after a failed attempt, this may lead to wastage and reduce the yield rates.
Damaged labels must not get printed and must instead be stamped with a “void” message and segregated from the ones ready to be printed.
RFID systems must adopt powerful printers, which can be programmed to issue warnings about persisting problems rather than have to be switched off. A shut down can trigger a different set of problems.
Optimum placement of the label is important, and this must be away from liquid and metal.
If all these steps are followed and checks carried out before the system becomes functional, printing RFID smart labels would indeed become hassle free for a long, long time.
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