AIDCLabels™ Frequently Asked Questions
RFID Labels & Tags
1) What is the benefit of an RFID label versus a traditional linear bar code label?
With the memory capabilities of an RFID IC (internal chip), RFID labels have the ability to include both the traditional UPC (unique product code) of a bar code, plus a serial number, and more. Additionally, RFID is read via radio waves, so it does not need to be physically visible to be identifiable. Each of these capabilities is an enhancement over a traditional bar code. Together, the benefit of RFID becomes clear.
2) How does an RFID label work?
Let’s assume that you simply need to read pre-encoded RFID tag data. In short: (1) an RFID reader uses its antenna to send out a radio wave signal, (2) an RFID tag receives the signal and then transmits a signal back with its unique RFID data, (3) and the same antenna captures the return signal including RFID tag data and allows the RFID reader to decipher and process.
3) What technology does AIDCLabels™ use for its RFID labels?
AIDCLabels™ utilizes Passive and UHF RFID technology. Passive RFID labels get their power from the RFID reader at read time. Additionally, our RFID labels use UHF (Ultra High Frequency) radio frequency range, which is optimized for low cost and optimal performance.
4) What is the range of an RFID label?
AIDCLabels™ offers numerous RFID labels that vary in their respective performance range. Generally, a small item tag will have a read range of a couple inches, while an Alien Squiggle® (for example) has a documented capability up to 11m (33ft). Factors such as the reader(s) used, material labeled, length of read time, and many other factors effect range of readability.
5) How much information/data can be programmed into an RFID IC (internal chip)?
Common UHF Passive chips have data storage in the 100’s of bits. For reference, an alpha-numeric character (ASCII) is 8 bits. There are 4 Banks of memory: Reserved, EPC, TID, and a User Bank. The EPC and User banks are where programmable data resides. Below is an example illustration of an Alien Higgs® 3 memory options:
6) Why is the Tag Identifier (TID) Bank locked with permanent data?
The TID Bank is permanently encoded with (unique/serialized) manufacturer information to ensure each RFID tag is authentic and helps provide support, as required.
7) How do I encode the product information my products need into an RFID label?
There are a couple common ways to get your product information into the EPC or User bank of an RFID IC. (1) Have your RFID label supplier pre-encode your desired product information, or (2) use OTC (over the counter) RFID software to design, print and encode your labels on-demand. You may also encode labeled product with your reader/antenna infrastructure, but this process can be less efficient than other options.
8) Is there a difference is using Direct Thermal or Thermal Transfer for my RFID labels?
Direct thermal is utilized for short-term product labeling, as the readable information can fade and/or become unreadable relatively quickly. Thermal transfer uses a printing process that is far more robust to various environmental conditions. RFID is utilized in various scenarios that may or may not be directly affected by environmental conditions. However, RFID is most often used for supply chain tracking processes, with exposure to various environmental conditions. Ideally, RFID labels use Thermal Transfer printing technology for longevity of human readable product information (e.g. barcodes, text, & images.) All AIDCLabels™ RFID labels are Thermal Transfer.
9) What’s the best way to determine the RFID label size, chip, antenna combination that will work best for my application?
Testing is the best approach. There are numerous factors that directly affect radio frequency identification. Often, the best way to determine what RFID label will work for your application is to procure several samples of RFID labels, then test them in your live environment.
Sometimes you need to comply with a compliance mandate. In that scenario, you additionally need to consider what’s required by your client. That requirement may drive your decision making process.
10) What are the components I need to start testing RFID labels for my application?
If you are starting from scratch, you will need to gather the 5-W facts: who, what, when, where, why. If it’s confirmed that RFID will be needed and you understand the core fundamentals of RFID, then an ideal starting point will be to compile a starter kit that will allow you to facilitate testing. An ideal starter kit will have sample RFID labels (and ribbon), a printer/encoder, RFID software, and a device to read or verify. These components will enable you to print and encode RFID labels for application and validation with your products and processes.
For more information or questions about RFID labels, printer/encoders, software, etc., please feel free to contact AIDCLabels™ to discuss your application today.
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