Tyco Electronics provides Unique, RFID-inlay assembly system

By Control Engineering Staff May 5, 2006

Burr Ridge, IL— Tyco Electronics’ Global Application Tooling Division (GATD) announced that it has collaborated with 21-year-old Graphic Solutions International LLC (GSI) to provide a unique RFID Inlay assembly system. It will assemble semiconductor chips, surface mount devices and printed batteries onto a continuous web of printed antennas, adding radio frequency identification (RFID) capability to tags and labels.

To meet the customer’s exacting specifications, Tyco Electronics provided a reel-to-reel system that allows GSI to mount flip chips, surface mount devices (SMDs), and printed batteries on a continuous web of printed antennas and conductive traces. The system is capable of high-speed mounting of electronic components on a 6,000-ft-plus (1,800-m-plus) roll of 20-in. (500 mm) wide material. After conductive printing, the roll is fed into the Tyco machine where components are added along with one or two printed batteries. Upon completion, the roll can be slit into individual streams and rolled, or supplied in production web width rolls for delivery. A typical circuit is inlaid with batteries, an RFID chip, and a printed antenna. The machine’s speed allows the production of up to 26 million inlays annually.

“There currently is no other machine like this available in the marketplace,” said Jim Parker, director of Engineering for GSI.

The continuous web assembly system reportedly produces inlays that offer performance improvements over conventional printed circuit boards. The system allows mounting flip chips for almost any purpose, as well as the ability to mount most standard SMDs along with GSI’s printed batteries. The line has the ability to mount on paper, PET, or other flexible substrates, and features a variable width capability up to 20-in (500 mm) wide. It can accommodate printed substrates from 0.002-in. (50 mm) to 0.005-in. (125 mm) thick, mount on continuous rolls with a repeat pitch of 0.8-in. (20 mm), and position chips to micron accuracy. Benefits of this assembly line include high speed, high accuracy, and reliability of mounting.

“GSI’s market positioning and interest in battery assisted RFID tags, and Tyco Electronics’ flexible modular approach coupled with IP specifically developed for RFID and other flex film applications, has been a perfect match,” said George Szekely, general manager of GATD’s Automation Technology Center.

— Richard Phelps, senior editor, Control Engineering