Toppan launches eco-friendly, tamper-resistant NFC tag

Toppan has launched a new, paper-based near-field communication (NFC) tag for customers who want to use the technology but are concerned about the environmental impact of current tags based on plastics.

There's another feature of the new tags that could also appeal to users, particularly those concerned about the security of the technology. As they are made of paper, the tags can be designed to break when removed, making communication impossible and thereby preventing fraudulent use due to reattachment of labels.

NFC is used for a wide range of industrial applications, such as contactless payments, supply chain management, ticketing, and identification and access control, as well as in some cases as an authentication technology that can protect goods from counterfeiting and open a communication channel with the purchaser via their smartphone.

For example, Toppan NFC tags have been used to fight counterfeiting of a range of goods, ranging from collectible Be@rBrick figures to alcoholic beverages and Chinese tea.

Toppan said that the global value of NFC target is estimated around $3.8bn in 2020, but is growing at a phenomenal rate and expected to hit $15.5bn by the start of the next decade, according to figures from Allied Market Research.

It expects the new eco-friendly tag to find a ready market in Europe "due to the high level of environmental consciousness" in that region.

NFC tag labels are predominantly produced by using metal foil to form an antenna on a plastic substrate, such as PET film. As governments and businesses advance activities to move away from the use of plastic, the market for NFC tags is seeing growing demand for replacing plastic with paper materials that have lower environmental impact.

However, achieving sufficient communication performance has been challenging because the electrical resistance of circuits increases when printing methods employing conductive inks, such as widely-used silver nanoparticles, are used to form antennas on paper.

The paper tags are around 30 per cent thinner than their PET counterparts, but are expected to have a similar price per unit, depending on whether they need to be colour printed.

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