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07-12-2017 | Manufacturing | News | Article

When Products Make Themselves

Dr. Hubert Pelc

RFIDs describe the technology of "transmitting miniature chips". These transmitter-receiver systems are often only a few square micrometres in size and can be glued to any kind of objects, making the objects intelligent, interoperable and capable of controlling their own production.

Products take control: they know their own production steps, instruct the machine and report any problems. The human just supervises. Worldwide, billions of objects have already been networked with each other in what is known as the "Internet of Things" (IoT). RFIDs make a significant contribution to the IoT. They are miniature mobile data media and consist of a printed antenna structure and a microscopic integrated circuit attached to a thin adhesive film. Relevant product data, such as production specifications, serial numbers, order details or specific processing requirements, can be stored on the chip. The antenna transmits this information to nearby machines using low-frequency radio waves. Special readers allow the machines to store and evaluate the information and carry out the appropriate production steps independently as required. This greatly streamlines these production steps.

RFIDs are based on adhesive technology

Adhesives are practically indispensable for RFID technology. They fix and connect the tiny chips to the antenna.
For example, the adhesive must reliably transmit the electrical signals, so that the information stored on the chip can be read. Since the surfaces for contacting and fixing can shrink, the adhesive has to be applied very precisely in minute quantities. Large-scale production also requires fast curing processes, which is why anisotropic conducting adhesives (ACAs) are used. ACAs are the ideal solution for making electrical contact with temperature-sensitive materials because their curing temperature is significantly lower than soldering temperatures and they cure within seconds, guaranteeing high production throughputs. ACAs can also be dispensed very precisely, with 0.02 mg of adhesive usually required per chip. Dispensers, screen printing or jet processing is used to apply the adhesive.

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