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Ask the Experts: Can an RFID Tag Be Embedded in My Product So It Can Be Identified Without an External Label?

The short answer is, “Yes,” but here’s a longer explanation on why, exactly, a company might want to embed RFID tags rather than mount them externally.

RFID scanners use radio frequency energy rather than visible light to read the RFID tag, so they can read tags through a wide variety of opaque materials like plastic, cardboard, composites or laminates. This comes in handy when you need to quickly scan a roomful of items to identify a certain subset. For example, if there happens to be a manufacturer’s recall, encapsulated RFID helps you to quickly identify all the affected units without taking the time to match serial numbers.

So, yes, embedded RFID is not only possible, but often preferred in a number of situations. Here are a few reasons someone might choose embedded RFID:

Cost & Durability

Tags that are engineered for optimum performance in the device environment will provide more consistent and durable tag performance over the life of the device. Additionally, tags are easier and less expensive to install as part of the manufacturing process.

Applying tags in the field requires more effort and will yield less consistent RF performance, resulting in more data association errors. Additionally, tags that are applied superficially are much more likely to be knocked off or damaged than an embedded tag.

Asset Recovery

Embedded RFID tags are also a solid anti-theft or asset recovery measure. For example, solar batteries used in remote locations or developing countries have a high theft rate. By embedding RFID tags in the batteries themselves, the stolen assets can be easily identified, but would-be thieves wouldn’t be able to remove the tags without destroying the batteries and rendering them unsaleable.

One customer in the medical field was frequently losing expensive cords that were attached to monitors because they’d get accidentally mixed into the bedclothes when laundry was collected. The washing – and therefore destruction – of each device cost the client $200 every time it happened. Embedded RFID tags offer an easy solution. A reader could be installed in the laundry area and alert the staff when a cord is detected.

Passive RFID tags are relatively inexpensive to install (especially during the manufacturing phase of the product), require no maintenance, and last a lifetime. In terms of keeping your item secure and identifiable, they are truly a comprehensive solution.

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