Design and performance of a flexible metal mountable UHF RFID tag

The large number of requirements and opportunities for automatic identification in manufacturing domains such as automotive and electronics has accelerated the demand for item-level tracking using Radio Frequency IDentification technology (RFID). End-users are interested in solutions that enable a range of objects to be identified without changing the structure of the objects. Designing an RFID tag, which can be mounted successfully on metallic objects and meets the end-user requirement is a major research challenge. The aim of the research outlined in this paper is to determine the effects of the harsh manufacturing environments in which RFID tags are used and compare the performance of a range of RFID tag substrates that can be used to isolate the RFID tag antenna from metallic objects. The goal is to determine which substrates allow RFID tags to operate efficiently when attached to metallic, lossy or dielectric objects whilst being low cost, high performance, flexible and in some cases reusable solutions. A flexible RFID tag with a substrate consisting of an elastomer / polymer has been investigated as a part of this research. Additionally, paper and PET substrates integrated with a number of different conductive inks, have also been investigated as potential optimal solutions for the high volume manufacture of UHF RFID tags suitable for metal objects. The research details the design and evaluation of performance of number of RFID tags when applied to tracking of automotive assets and components such as stillages throughout their manufacturing, assembly and the supply chain.