NFC tags integrated into paper packaging

June 22, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
NFC tags integrated into paper packaging
Toppan Printing in Japan has integrated tamper-resistant NFC tag chips into the structure of paper-based packages to develop a new type of smart packaging.

Toppan has initially created four concept types for NFC-enabled paper packaging and will offer customization versions that help streamline the manufacturing process while also preserving package design options.

RFID, NFC, and other ID labels have been used for several years, but this can restrict how printed graphics are used and the need to apply labels during packaging manufacture also increases the workload. Another disadvantage is that labels can be removed as well as reapplied to other items, giving rise to potential risks of counterfeiting, grey market diversion, and other fraudulent activities in the supply chain.

The smart packaging developed by Toppan has the NFC chip embedded in the package itself. This gives a higher level of security and helps to reduce the workload associated with applying conventional NFC labels to packages.

To make the NFC element tamper resistant, Toppan used a brittle structure are part of the circuit. If an attempt is made to separate the NFC tag from the package, the circuit is destroyed and the NFC tag no longer functions, therefore reducing risks related to removal of the NFC tag, including counterfeiting and grey market diversion of labels, products, or packaging.

In addition to the NFC communication circuit, a circuit that detects disconnection can be positioned to detect opening of the package. NFC tag functions are maintained even if this additional circuit is broken, meaning that scanning with a smartphone or other NFC-enabled device is still possible after a product has been opened. As well as bolstering security, this opening detection function also has benefits for consumer engagement because brands can vary the content and information provided to consumers based on whether they have opened the product or not.

Embedding the NFC tag into the package also helps to optimise the performance by selecting suitable packaging materials and circuits at the stage of package design, which assumes the presence of the NFC tag. Integration of the tag and package also eliminates the need for processes for fixing labels to packages, helping to streamline and reduce the workload of manufacturing.

Toppan has devised four concept types of packaging with built-in NFC functionality, from a one-piece tuck top box type, straight tuck box type, blister card type, and molded pulp type.

“Fusing our packaging and ID technologies makes it possible to create this kind of integrated solution that supports digital transformation and brings value in terms of security, efficiency and communication with consumers,” said Takamitsu Nakabayashi, senior R&D manager in Toppan’s Security business. “Toppan will continue to drive development of smart packaging as we target a broad range of applications for these new products in the near future.”

www.toppan.com

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