Innovative RFID paper sandwich for active commercial printing

Sappi and ISBC bring together digital and paper sectors

The Sappi ISBC paper with RFID inlay sandwiches is good for active commercial printing of visiting cards, diplomas and tickets and passes to transport and events Image Sappi | RFID paper
The Sappi ISBC paper with RFID inlay sandwiches is good for active commercial printing of visiting cards, diplomas and tickets and passes to transport and events Image Sappi

Printed electronics are decidedly on the move. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is no longer a niche technology. It is already being used to great effect in many areas of everyday life – in our passports, ID cards and travel cards, clothes, library books, and much more. The vast scale and intricacy of the RFID market also offers new opportunities for the printing industry. With this in mind, ISBC has developed and presented on the market an innovative product – ISBC RFID Paper. The product is sheet-fed and made with 100% fibre-based Swiss Matt paper substrate from specialty paper manufacturer Sappi. A press release date 12 August 2021 reveals that RFID chips are embedded into the paper sheets causing no effect over the paper surface – it remains flat and smooth.

South Africa headquartered Sappi is a global provider of sustainable wood fibre products and solutions. With its proven expertise in speciality papers, Sappi came up on the ISBC radar. The smart RFID paper supplier was looking for an alternative to plastic for smart printing and Sappi’s Swiss Matt paper – used mostly as an inkjet paper for large-format printing – was an interesting choice due to its white surface, excellent print results, and outstanding scratch- and water-resistance. Furthermore, thanks to its exceptional surface quality and silky feel, the paper proved to be the perfect material, offering a first-class experience to consumers. “It was clear from the very beginning that we would greatly benefit from developing our customer projects in direct collaboration with Sappi. The speciality paper expert’s strong expertise has enabled us to take a big step forward,” says Nikita Kozhemyakin, Business Development director of the ISBC Group.

Thinking out of the box with ISBC RFID paper

With growing demand and potential applications, the printing market is facing the challenge of enhancing existing products and services in line with new technical possibilities. With the ground-breaking ISBC RFID paper, printing companies can now extend their portfolio to include printed electronics. ISBC RFID paper incorporates an RFID chip and is as easy to print as a regular sheet of paper, making it a cost-efficient solution for printing companies.

Another advantage of the ‘sandwich product’ is that it can be printed with various kinds of printing techniques and machines – therefore eliminating costly in-house development work and avoiding investments in new equipment, software and business processes. The desired information can simply be transferred to the paper-embedded RFID chip – for the encoding process ISBC has developed a special encoding machine and training materials. The ISBC RFID paper line made from Swiss Matt is used mainly for business cards, postcards, stickers, promotional flyers, POS materials, access and loyalty cards, brand protection labels, diplomas among many other applications.

Why paper makes a difference

In terms of resource conservation and environmental protection, RFID paper delivers significant advantages over conventional plastic tags. Ivan Demidov, ISBC founder and inventor says, “Our patented technology is unique on the market. It offers end-users a PVC-free, more sustainable and future-proof option.” Paper-based RFID tags reduce waste both during production and at the end of the product’s lifecycle. Printing processes also consume less energy and resources, which leads to a reduced carbon footprint for forward-looking, sustainability-conscious B2B and B2C companies.

For contactless tickets, keycards or secure documents

How is the world shaping up today in terms of RFID, which could play a major role for the paper industry? ISBC RFID paper is suitable for a wide range of applications in numerous industries. It adds digital value to simple products – reliably and at low cost. Specifically, it can be used for contactless tickets on buses, trains, trams and other means of transportation, as well as for prepaid cards and gift cards, business cards and access control, including key cards for hotel rooms, ski passes or admission wristbands for events and trade fairs. The paper-based sensors and labels can also be integrated into diplomas and other certificates to verify document authenticity. Conventional postcards can also be enhanced by integrating an RFID tag with interactive URLs.

ISBC is an international company based in Russia which recently moved its global headquarters to Singapore in April 2021. The company has 19 years experience in production of RFID-based products and manufacturing lines in microelectronics valley of Moscow, Russia. The company’s products are already used by more than 50 million people worldwide. ISBC continuously invests in the development of unique RFID and IoT products. Partnering with market leaders such as NXP, HP, Sappi and DuPont, ISBC develops products across different industries such as financial payment, security, transportation, brand protection, and logistics across the supply chain. The unique smart RFID paper is produced in one of ISBC’s production plants in the microelectronics valley of Moscow, Russia.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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