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Practical Guide to RFID Label Quality

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(Archive News Story - Products mentioned in this Archive News Story may or may not be available from the manufacturer.)

IC-TAG Solutions, Inc
7657 W 100th Place
Bridgeview, IL, 60455
USA



Press release date: December 21, 2012

Introduction

Although skills and equipment are necessary for detailed analysis of the quality of RFID labels, simple equipment and common knowledge allows for almost anyone to process the RFID label test. Here is some basic information provided by a professional RFID testing lab.

Matching with the Encoder

The RFID labels should be matched with the printer protocol. Printer/encoders focus RF energy on a very small area to encode and verify inlays one at a time. In contrast, most RFID readers are configured to broadcast-cover a large area to identify as many tags as possible. The best way to ensure smart label/printer compatibility is to order smart labels converted for the inlay placement specification of the printer/encoder being used. Different printer brands do have distinct inlay locations. It's always good to check the RFID label box and packaging to make sure whether the labels are intended for the model concerned.

Read Range Test

When designing an RFID tag and reader, remember that optimizing for read range is a system issue; no single component determines the entire read range. A tagging IC has no read range; it can maximize or minimize its part of the system. Only a total system can have a read range. Keep in mind the different semiconductor devices, materials, and techniques available for use in RFID tags and systems. Careful selection by application is critical.

Flexure Test

When the label is applied to a soft or irregular surface, it is likely that the RFID labels will be sharp bending. The flexure durability is another significant quality for RFID labels. One way to test the flexure durability is to link a one-pound weight to one end of the label and repeatedly pull the label over a half inch diameter rod with about 90 degrees of the rod in contact with the label. As it turns out, high quality labels will tolerate 20 or more pulls before failure.

Adhesion Test

Staying affixed to the surface throughout the life of the good is another important function. To test the feature, apply a few RFID labels to the cartons' surface and wait about an hour, then try to remove them. If they are hard to tear down, the labels are of good quality. Additionally, if the goods are going to preserve in a hard environment, the labels should be tested under the same conditions.

ESD Test

Static charge can build up in a number of ways, but triboelectric charging is by far the dominant mechanism. The friction between two dissimilar materials generates a potential difference that can be many thousands of volts. The triboelectric series shown below ranks various materials according to their tendency to gain or lose electrons. Consider the case of the human hand and silicon placed on a polyethylene substrate-in other words, an RFID inlay. The nature of these materials, being positioned at the extremes of the triboelectric spectrum, is the first clue that special measures must be taken.

One way to test is to choose ten labels and cut them with the release liners still attached. Then test each one of the capability of proceeding the labeling. Next, rive off the liner from each label and check the range capability twice to see whether there are any labels which already have lost range, i.e. ESD damage occurs. In conclusion, quality labels never perform badly for range capability.

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