Sun Chemical announced at Drupa that its Coates Screen business unit is working closely with QinetiQ, one of Europe’s largest science and technology solutions companies, on the development of RFID systems such as low-cost, high volume RFID security/tracking tags, along with a host of other applications where a fine metal pattern is needed, such as labels, smart cards, antenna, frequency selective surfaces).
Sun Chemical and QinetiQ will work together to bring QinetiQ’s environmentally friendly, patented Metal Printing process to commercial realization.
Coates Screen, a leader in the specialist inks used to produce credit cards and security documents, will manufacture bespoke base inks for QinetiQ’s patented conductive printing processes.
The QinetiQ process is based on printing a desired pattern on either a flexible or rigid substrate using industry standard printing processes, and then “growing” pure fully densified metal only where required by immersion in chemical baths. With significantly fewer production stages than current techniques, the process produces negligible waste, is exceptionally cost effective as it requires substantially less metal and is more flexible.
“The diverse range of applications for QinetiQ’s Metal Printing process just grows by the day,” said Christopher Bishop, commercial director of QinetiQ Metal Printing. “Because of the relatively low production costs and the ease of manufacture, we not only address existing applications but are opening up totally new markets and opportunities almost every week, each of which could have a significant impact on our daily lives. We have already delivered several turnkey commercial solutions based on this process and are now close to fulfilling a number of substantial product tracking and security orders for international blue chip companies.”
This process is suitable for a diverse range of applications that include security tags and labels, smart cards, antenna, frequency selective surfaces or anything that needs a metallic pattern. Virtually any water-resistant material is suitable as the substrate. These include synthetic paper, polyester, polypropylene, ceramic or ABS plastics. QinetiQ has already perfected processes for using copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, tin, silver, gold and alloys of these, as single and multiple layers along with the ability to provide perfect connectivity and conductivity between chips and batteries.
“We believe this technology will be widely and rapidly adopted across both new and emerging sectors,” said Andy Parkinson, global marketing manager for Coates Screen. “We already supply many of the global leaders of security passes and credit cards, so with the growing trend to add more sophisticated technologies onto these media, this was a logical move for us.”