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Xerox demonstrates printed memory

June 9, 2016

The OEM’s printed memory, aimed at helping fight counterfeiting, was shown at the drupa event.sheetnfcbarcodechips

The Recycler reported last August on the printed memory, which has been produced in a partnership between Norwegian company Thinfilm and the OEM, and which will be applied to inkjet cartridges as smart memory tags so consumers would know exactly when to replace the cartridge. At the time, Thinfilm noted that each tag costs “less than one dollar” to produce, with the company signing a deal to print 1.3 billion units, working out at around “a penny or a few pennies per cartridge”.

Thinfilm is capable of printing, roll-to-roll, around one kilometre of memory, with each square centimetre including around 20 bits of memory. The roll-to-roll method allows electronic labels to be printed “that offer a cost-per-function untouchable by any other technology”, with electronic labels featuring “memory, sensing, display” and wireless communications able to be created by the company “for tens of cents”.

Other areas in which the technology will be used in future include “temperature sensing”, “data storage” and “display”, with some “stand-alone” but “an even greater number” to be “readable via close-proximity wireless communications”, such as near-field communication (NFC) devices. Thinfilm has also reportedly signed deals with Diageo, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and a range of companies in the “spirits, tobacco and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries”.

At the drupa event in Dusseldorf, Germany, which ran from 31 May to 10 June, the OEM showcased the printed memory, with Thinfilm noting that the show served as a “global showcase” for the technology, and adding that the memory “adds low-cost intelligence to objects or packaging by printing thin circuitry on a flexible substrate”. Up to 36 bits of information can be stored, adding up to 68 billion “distinct data combinations”, including lot codes, serial numbers and expiration dates.

The data is preserved for up to 10 years, and can be overwritten, with Thinfilm reiterating the “ideal solution” when used in “grey market sales, counterfeiting and supply chain integrity” for “one of the most tamper-proof, anti-counterfeit solutions on the market”. Another interesting addition is that they can address “smart consumable” space to “protect and increase the revenue of product refills”.

This is because the labels “can interact with [a] dispensing device”, so OEMs could “count, record time, calibrate, and provide other usage information associated with a refill cartridge or unit”. The technology was licensed by Xerox in January 2015, and all technology was transferred to Xerox from Thinfilm in the first quarter, with Xerox “modifying a production line in one of its existing facilities” in Webster, New York.

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