01 December 2013 Commercial

Security printer adopts printed electronic chips in future bid

Andrews & Wykeham sees tremendous potential in the plastic electronics developed by PragmatIC in Cambridge.

SECURITY PRINT SPECIALIST Andrews & Wykeham is teaming up with PragmatIC Printing to create a range of track and trace and other security products that use PragmatIC’s flexible electronic circuits, printed by CPI in Sedgefield.

Andrews & Wykeham will commission a roll to roll integration and conversion line which will allow the Basingstoke business to create a new generation of security foils and labels that combine the ultra thin integrated circuits with RFID antennae so that they can be activated by hand held readers and smart phones.

THE APPLICATIONS COULD INCLUDE product identification or personal verification, anti counterfeiting and track and trace as part of the Theseus track and trace system. The technology would allow products marked with the PragmatIC labels to be checked with a line of sight view. However, as the corporate ethos is about strict confidentiality and security at all stages of production of its labels and foils, it is unlikely to publicise where the integrated circuitry is being used.

From Andrews & Wykeham, managing director Jamie Willis says: “PragmatIC Printing have a unique platform technology for embedding electronic intelligence into labels and foils, which we will leverage to offer a range of totally unique security products to our customers.”

PRAGMATIC HAS A SIMILAR problem in that its customers insist on confidentiality and non disclosure agreements. The Cambridge company has developed ways to produce electronic circuits on ultra thin plastic films, in quantity and at the sort of low cost and reliability that makes it feasible for them to be used in components of packaging, cards and other print media. “It’s the equivalent of the silicon chip, but in plastic,” says PragmatIC managing director Scott White. “And there’s a significant cost advantage over silicon, but more important are the film factor benefits, where the products need to be thin and flexible and silicon is always rigid.”

PragmatIC has also released its 7400 series which can be compiled for a range of purposes and which will be produced in quantity next year. More complex structures will be possible, including full microprocessors in the foreseeable future says White. “We have a lot of patents on how to make circuits on plastic films. We can make features down to 50 nanometers with extremely high accuracy on material layers that are 10 nanometers. “It’s not a technology that is close to the core competence of most commercial printers, but we end up with is something that can be integrated into print media and we have customers that are already involved with consumer packaging and labels.”