The integration of thin and flexible electronics opens up new possibilities for classically printed products. Light, sound, displays, power or sensors can be integrated into traditional print products like journals, brochures or packaging, thereby enhancing their functionality. Interactive print products provide additional functionality and new opportunities for entire industries, such as advertising.
In order to illustrate new possibilities, the OE-A brochure features an interactive cover page that lets you experience the next generation of electronics: Enabling new applications that are thin, lightweight, flexible and produced at low cost.
10,000 NFC tags have been produced, and one is integrated into each OE-A Brochure – a clear example of printed electronics already being produced en masse. The demonstrator illustrates the versatility that organic and printed electronics can offer in terms of scalability, miniaturization, adaptability, manufacturability, integration, complexity and high technical yield.
Tapping the NFC tag with your smart device automatically takes you to www.oe-a.vdma-verlag.com, where you will find a number of OE-A members and partners that have embraced this technology and are using it as a marketing tool. However this page illustrates only one possibility. Imagine all that this NFC tag could be integrated into! Serving as an information indicator or smart label on medicine packaging, sharing your curriculum vitae with your business card, or unlocking and starting your car with a digital key saved on your smart device are just a few application examples.
Technology and Process
The card itself is printed on Powercoat(R) Alive paper, developed and manufactured by OE-A member Arjowiggins. This “intelligent” paper with embedded NFC technology makes it possible to print connected objects using traditional printing methods. This material combines the multiple award-winning specialty paper – adapted for printing electronics by using a patented technology – with printed circuits and an embedded, unpackaged silicon chip on which data is stored. The printed circuits are produced via screen printing process, dried and rendered conductive via a high-temperature sintering process. The paper is then laminated with an aqueous glue between two sheets of fine paper, making for a seamlessly integrated chip. This NFC tag is therefore a perfect example of a hybrid system.
Placing an NFC-enabled device in close proximity (within a few centimeters) of the printed RFID circuit containing the chip enables small amounts of data to be transferred between the devices. Passive RFID tags are powered by the electromagnetic energy transmitted from the NFC-enabled device/reader. Consequently, it needs to be held close to the substrate to ensure that the radio waves are strong enough to power the tags. The card itself can be recycled because it contains no plastics. The ink and tiny silicon chip can easily be extracted before recycling. Furthermore, these Powercoat paper inlays provide the perfect way to integrate printed electronic functions into plastics and other laminates, opening up a world of opportunities for new intelligent objects.