Is RFID Printing Worth Providing? Part 1

RFID technology has made leaps and bounds since it was first introduced in a 1983 patent for a device that used radio frequencies to remotely identify an object and allowed data communication without any physical contact.

Today, numerous companies are utilizing RFID technology – whether it’s for tracking fish in an aquarium, monitoring toll both users, opening car doors, checking out purchases or installing RFID chips on printed product to protect against fraud or track use, they’re on the rise.

But, is RFID a pervasive enough technology to start providing as an option for your printing jobs? Will the demand reach high enough levels to justify adding RFID label printing services?

The Costs are High
Compared to a simple barcode, an RFID tag is expensive. Until the price drops, most clients will prefer to opt for a standard UPC on their packaging.

Technology Still Has a Way to Go
Did you know that metal containers or any products with liquid inside can pose a problem for many UHF RFID readers? That means labels for these products will most likely remain RFID-free, at least for now.

In addition, the technology can be disabled quite easily. For example, if a store wanted to use RFID scanners to read a customer’s cart, a less-than-honest customer could simply hold their hand over a tag or remove it to exit the store without paying for it. Until these technology issues are resolved, you’ll most likely see clients holding back from RFID technology.

In fact, last year Wal-Mart softened their mandate that all suppliers must include RFID chips because of these same technology and cost issues. They’re still promoting the adoption of RFID and it’s still mandatory, but it’s not a requirement for every single product.

RFID is Fragile
RFID chips or inlays don’t tend to hold up well to excessive twisting or bending. However, new technology is being developed to weave RFID information into fibers and embed the technology into flexible products. This could mean major changes in the paper and packaging business.

Implementation is Expensive
Probably the biggest factor holding your clients back from RFID labels is the cost of implementation. If you’re printing packaging for a product and that product is only sold in stores that use UPCs because the stores can’t afford RFID readers, then there’s no need for RFID.

Despite the drawbacks, RFID labels are still on the rise. It may be a slow rise, but it’s definitely rising. So, how do you start providing the service? How do you write up a quote that includes RFID tag printing?

To learn how, stay tuned for RFIDs Part Two: How to Implement and Sell RFID Tags.

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