RFID this, RFID that! All we hear about today when it comes to logistics is Radio Frequency Identification technology. Due to their huge advantages and vast applications, RF systems have become the foundation of asset identification & tracking for many industries. One type of RFID tag that is very popular, is the mount on- metal tag. These tags provide a special function and the solution to one of the very few weaknesses that this technology suffers from.
So, let’s discuss the basics of Mount On-Metal Tags.
What is a Mount On-Metal Tag?
As the name suggests, these tags are specially designed to be mounted on objects with a metal surface. This is done, due to the fact that normal RFID tags do not perform well or at all on metals.
Mount on-metal tags come in a wide variety and are usually capable of multiple methods of mounting. They are robust and allow users to easily maintain asset identification & tracking operations.
So, let’s have an in-depth discussion about the metal issue and how these small items deal with it.
Issues Metal Surfaces Pose on RFID Technology
To know how metals affect an RF system, first, we need to learn a few basics about the technology. RFID stands for radio frequency identification; a class of AIDC technology that operates using the propagation of Radio Signals. The issue arises when you introduce metal into the equation. Unlike most substances, metals have a unique property.
Metals don’t just allow electromagnetic radiation, more accurately, radio waves pass through them. Depending on the type of metal, it may completely absorb or scatter and reflect the radio signal. This causes problems when using RFID. As most tags are meant to be small with a thin or even no layer between the antenna and the item surface.
So, when users apply normal tags/inlays on a metal surface, the surface just absorbs or reflects the signals from the readers, stopping them from reaching the RFID. In addition to this, if the antenna of the tag is in direct contact with the surface, then they both form a connection. Meaning now the entire surface will act like an antenna. We know that the basic principle of antenna design is the length of an antenna, is inversely proportional to its frequency. Meaning, that as the length of an antenna increases, its operational frequency decreases.
So, the antenna touching the surface will change its frequency, meaning that it will never connect with the signals coming from the readers. This is known as detuning.
How Do Mont On-Metal Tags Work?
Now that you know the exact cause of the issues that RF systems face due to metals. Let’s see how the solution to this problem works.
As mentioned above, On-Metal tags are specifically designed to work with metal surfaces without causing any issues. We know that metals cause detuning and signal degradation due to their ability to absorb and backscatter electromagnetic signals. So, mounting on-metal tags work by avoiding just that.
In a typical on-metal tag, the inlay is covered by a hard and sealed-out shell. This shell can be made of plastic, ABS, or even ceramic. The benefit of these materials is that they are not conductors of electricity, therefore will cause any interference of their own while providing a tough outer shell. The first benefit of this is the additional protection it provides that tags against physical impacts and harsh environments.
These shells also create a distance between the metal surface and the inlay, this allows the inlay antennas to receive the radio signals before they can come in contact with the surface. In addition, these tags are also attuned carefully to absorb the signal reflected by the metal surface. In normal tag applications, the signals that do not come in contact with the inlay’s antenna keep traveling and fade away. However, with metal’s unique property to reflect these signals, the on-metal tag can absorb these signals too, increasing the power it receives.
As a result, it performs even better than a normal tag by increasing the communication range ever so slightly.
Some Popular On-Metal Tags Available at EnCStore.
Now you know what and how mount on- metal tags work. So, before moving to some common queries, let us tell you about some popular tags that you can get with our help.
(A). UHF PCB On-Metal Tag
These are perhaps one of the smallest tags you will ever see in use. They are square shaped, 6x6 mm in width and height, and 3mm in thickness. These tags have an effective communication range of up to 7 meters. And these come with multiple mounting methods – Adhesive, Rivets, and Magnetic Mounts.
(B). Micro Ceramic Tag
As the name suggests, these on-metal tags have an outer shell made of ceramic. Now you probably know that ceramics usually tend to be very hard and strong against physical impacts. Making these tags perfect for application in a rugged environment. They are also very small in size, shaped like a cuboid with dimensions – 4mm X 4mm X 3 mm, making them easy to embed inside products.
These have an effective communication range of 1.7 meters and can be mounted using epoxy and embedment.
(C). Ironside Slim On-Metal
Unlike the previous two, these tags are a little bit bigger, they are cuboid-shaped with dimensions of – 85mm X 21mm X 10mm. Their outer shell is made of high-quality ABS plastic, that is very durable to physical stresses, water resistant, and dust resistant, making them perfect for outdoor use. They have a remarkable communication range of 10 meters when mounted on metal, and 4 to 5 meters when mounted on a non-metallic surface.
These tags are compatible with two types of mounting methods, namely – Rivets and Screws.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Does RFID work on metal?
Normal RFID tags have difficulty functioning on metal surfaces, especially ultra-high frequency tags. However, there are specialized tags known as the mount on-metal tags, that are specifically made to work alongside metals.
Q2. What is RFID hang tag?
An Rf hang tag is a normal RF inlay or label that has a holder or zip-like extension on one side, this allows the tag to be hung from an item, rather than mounted on it firmly. Hang tags are very popular in environments with a lot of metal surfaces, as they prevent the tag from touching the metal surfaces, thus, reducing the chances of signal degradation or tag detuning severely.
Q3. Are RFID tags safe?
Yes, RF technology works by using radio waves, which are a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. Therefore, posing no harm to one’s health.