The most important parts of the NFC medium are the NFC chip and the antenna. Depending on the applications, the two are built in different kinds of housing. If the chip is between thin paper or plastic layers, we refer to it as a ‘NFC sticker’ or ‘NFC label.
’ If the NFC chip is inside die-cut plastic, it is thicker and more rigid and we refer to it as a ‘NFC tag
.’ If the tag is the same dimensions as a credit card, it is easier to call it a ‘NFC card
There are many ways to print on NFC tags. The best way is to do the print with offset technology during the production of the NFC tags. There is also the possibility to print on the finished tags, but is usually more expensive than the first option.
Printed NFC tags or stickers with offset printing technology
Our printed NFC tags are usually made from PVC and are printed with color logos or background. They can also contain variable data like serial numbers, chip ID numbers, etc. For a color print, we usually use offset digital printing with CMYK colors and combine it with silk screen printing when there is a need for Pantone colors, metallic effects (golden colors, silver, glitter, etc.).
The production process is the following:
The artwork of the front side is printed on a thin plastic layer, which has to be perfectly white and the highest quality as possible. When printed, we combine the multiple plastic layers into a sheet. The sheet and all its layers are then heat-treated (laminated) so that the layers stick together and act as a whole. In the next step, we print or laser engrave variable data like QR codes, barcodes, serial numbers, etc. Later on, we add additional layers like the on-metal layer, the adhesive, and we cut out the NFC tags to their final size and shape. In the end, we do a thorough quality check and pack the tags for shipping.
The typical printed NFC tag contains the following layers:
1. A clear protective layer,
2. A layer with color artwork,
3. A layer with NFC chip and antenna,
4. A layer with on-metal protection,
5. A layer with adhesive.
The quality of these layers defines the quality of the print and the lifespan of the NFC tag.
When selecting the best NFC chip, the client should consider the following factors:
- the supported protocols
- the amount of memory
- reading distance
- additional security features
- and other functionalities if needed.
NTAG NFC chips
The most commonly used NFC chip is NTAG213
which supports the protocol ISO/IEC 14443 Type A, has a seven bytes long UID (the Unique ID encoded by the chip manufacturer) and a EEPROM memory in which a user can store up to 144 bytes of data that equals to a 136 character-long URL address. If the user needs to encode more data, then there are other NTAG chips available, the NTAG215
with 504 byes of EEPROM memory and the NTAG216
with 888 bytes of EEPROM memory, which is enough to store the information of electronic business cards. The data retention time for these chips is 10 years.
The NTAG chips are typically used for:
- Marketing applications (URL records, video links, navigation to destination address, etc.)
- Person or product identification
- Product presentation
- Bluetooth pairing, Wi-Fi configuration, and more.
Mifare Desfire® NFC chips
For an application which requires even more EEPROM memory and additional layers of security, we suggest using the chips Mifare Desfire® with EEPROM size 2k, 4k, or 8k bytes.
Desfire chips use a 3DES or AES hardware cryptographic engine for confidentiality and integrity protection of the transmission data. They have a 7 byte-long UID, and the data retention time for these chips is 25 years.
Mifare Desfire® chips are typically used for:
- Secure access control
- Public transportation
- Cashless vending
ICODE® NFC chips
The third kind of NFC chips we often use are ICODE® chips which support the protocol ISO/IEC 15693 (NFC Forum Tag Type 5, ISO 18000-3M1) which supports bigger reading distances (up to 1.5 m with the right equipment), it has an 8 byte-long UID and a data retention time of 50 years.
We usually use the chip ICODE® SLIX or SLIX 2, but there are also ICODE DNA and other ICODE chips available.
ICODE® chips are typically used for:
- Asset Identification
- Consumable and accessory identification
NFC tags with On-metal protection
If you place a NFC tag on a metallic surface, the magnetic fluxes of the reader will induce eddy currents within the conductor and they will cause the NFC chip to not work.
If the printed NFC tag is to be used on a metallic surface, we have to add the special layer made from ferritic material called the ‘on-metal or anti-metal layer’ which redirects the magnetic fluxes and the chips are working. You have to be aware that the metal is affecting the reader as well, and so some readers work better in this condition than others.
Adhesive for NFC tags
We can even customize the adhesive which is used for attaching NFC tags to the desired surface. For long term use, we suggest using high quality 3M adhesives, for short-term projects it is usually good enough to use chapter inorganic adhesives. 3M adhesive is highly viscous, resistant to high temperature and humidity, can maintain high viscosity for a long time, and at higher temperatures. If a project requires tags with a strong adhesive, we use the 3M 467MP 200MP, whose specifications are well defined by the manufacturer.
Special NFC tags
NFC COB tag
The simplest NFC tag is a ‘COB’ (Chip On Board), where there is only a small rectangular tie containing the NFC chip and the copper winding. This product is usually built-in other products from plastics, wood, or other non-metallic materials.
NFC Laundry tags
Laundry tags are made from PPS material (Polyphenylene sulfide) and designed to withstand heat, pressure, and chemicals. It is ideal to track the laundry, warehouse assets, for tracking production objects, pallets, tools, etc. It is not designed for on-metal application. These tags can be printed as well, but the printing requires special printing technology and the options are limited.
NFC Key fobs
NFC Key fobs are another type of NFC tag. The Key fobs come with a number of standard housings. Some of them can be personalized with serial numbers or printed, but it requires special printing technology. If you need printed NFC key fobs, we usually use laser engraving technology.
Another kind of NFC medium are NFC wristbands.
They are usually made of a silicone material which is very comfortable to wear, and they are available in various shapes. NFC wristbands are especially useful where we do not carry a wallet (swimming pools, saunas, etc.) or where we must always have it on hand (waiters to enter the cash register, open the door, etc.).
We can print on NFC Wristbands as well, but it requires special printing technology or laser engraving.
If you need larger quantities send an email to email@example.com or call +38641 884 124 and we will be happy to help you.
If you are an integrator or reseller, we offer special discounts.