Industrial Electronics

Wirelessly Powered, Printed Electronic Label for Consumer Items

18 November 2018
Smart consumer packaging that lights up on a shelf such as the backside of a Straub beer label is an example of what ultra-thin, wirelessly powered printed electronics can be used for. Source: Powercast

The increased use and sophistication of printed electronics has led to numerous innovations in the market.

These innovations have led PPG and Powercast Corp. to work on next-generation smart labels that not only provide identification, but also wireless illumination to showcase products on a shelf. The agreement between PPG and Powercast is based on ultra-thin and wirelessly powered printed electronics using PPG’s Teslin substrate and conductive inks combined with Powercast’s Powerharvester receiver technology for over-the-air wireless power.

The companies will first create an LED-based wireless illumination solution for smart consumer packaging and identification cards. The printed electronics are sealed into packaging and cards via lamination and provide illumination without wires, batteries, charging ports or direct contact with a power source.

The illuminated smart labels are created by printing graphics or information on one side of the Teslin substrate using conventional or digital print technologies. The electronic circuitry is printed directly onto the opposite side of the substrate using PPG’s conductive ink. The wireless power receiver chip and other components are then attached using a conductive epoxy and the label is laminated to seal the electronic circuitry.

The consumer smart labels segment is showing substantial growth because these printed electronics carry product information, such as ingredients and manufacture date. They also add another layer of security through smart identification and traceability.

The PPG-Powercast smart label is flexible, water resistant and protects the circuitry from the handling and abuse common in credential and packaging applications.

The printed electronics could be used for applications outside of the retail or consumer space to include radio frequency identification (RFID) and mobile antennas, membrane switch and capacitive touch panels, flexible OPV solar panels, printed sensors and medical biosensors.

Different industries are beginning to use smart labels, such as manufacturing, food and beverage, healthcare, automotive, retail, security and many more. Market research firm Research and Markets forecasts the smart labels market to grow to an $11.7 billion business by 2023, up from $5.9 billion in 2017. During this forecast period, the smart labels market will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1%.

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