Qinetiq and Crown Holdings have launched a joint development programme to adapt Qinetiq’s Omni-ID Pak integrated Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for use on metal packaging. This would enable suppliers to integrate ultra high frequency (UHF) RFID tags into metal packaging for a wide variety of applications at the single item level.
The technology is designed to mitigate issues such as signal reflection, detuning and grounding which reduce or negate RFID’s effectiveness on metal packaging or with water-based products. It uses several of metal’s inherent properties that would usually be problematic and uses them to its advantage.
Qinetiq’s standalone Omni-ID Tag and integrated Omni-ID Pak technology allow a UHF tag to be mounted directly onto the metal substrate. Measuring less than 1mm in thickness, the Omni-ID structure collects and focuses RF energy and enables highly efficient coupling to the chip. Another advantage of the system is that RFID chips require only a short coupling antenna rather than the large dipole usually incorporated in UHF tags, significantly reducing manufacturing costs.
Crown and Qinetiq are continuing development of the technology for metal packaging to further optimise design. In the near future, they expect that the metal substrate itself will have an integral role in the way the technology functions. Using a drink or food can as an example, the can itself would serve as the antenna, simplifying production of the RFID tag and further reducing costs. Existing Gen 1 and Gen 2 RFID tags would complete the available solution.
Initially, the technology is being targeted at higher end applications such as perfumes, spirits, confectionery, and ink cartridges. In the longer term, the firms anticipate that the technology will be economically feasible at the unit product level for all applications and will be made available for licensing across metal packaging and water-based product applications.