Closed-Cell RFID Tag Encode/Print/Apply

Automation of RFID Closed-Cell Foam Tags for WIP

The Challenge


A systems integrator approached FOX IV with some challenges.  They needed to encode, print, and apply a closed cell foam RFID tag to metal cylinders then apply a paint mask label over the tag for a work-in-process tracking and warranty validation process.  The challenges were that the thickness of the tag was above the specifications of standard label printer engines and that the paint mask label needed to be accurately applied.  An additional challenge was the operational environment.


The systems integrator needed RFID tag print and apply equipment as well as a label applicator to integrate into a WIP tracking process for metal parts.  The Metalcraft  Onsite Printable Universal Mini RFID Tags specified were to be encoded, printed and applied to the metal cylinders.  The closed cell foam tag size was 2.75" x .75" with a thickness of 47 mils.

Following the tag application, a specialized two-ply paint mask, also from Metalcraft, needed to be accurately applied over the RFID tag. Following the tag and mask application, the integrator would check the tags and remove any with unreadable tags from the process. An average throughput rate of 2 per minute with periodic application rates up to three per minute was specified.

ENVIRONMENT/SPECIAL CONDITIONS: The temperature at the facility can reach 110°F and the atmosphere is oily, and dusty.


The Solution


FOX IV provided a modified 6984RF2 Print and Apply SATO-based RFID encode/print/apply system with PLC applicator control, Ethernet connectivity, a 203 dpi print engine, and a 14” label applicator assembly.  Optional accessories included a digital I/O package and warning/fault beacon. FOX IV's in-house engineering team was able to modify the print and apply system to feed and peel the thick RFID tags, which would not reliably feed through a standard print engine whose specified maximum thickness is 12.5 mils.  FOX IV also provided the FOX IV Model 1014R label applicator with a 14" cylinder assembly, digital I/O package and beacons to accurately apply the paint mask label over the RFID tag.  Placement accuracy was tested over 1000 labels an found to be within tolerances. 

The integrator provided "apply" signals to each labeling unit when the metal cylinder was in position.  FOX IV provided a "home" signal back to the integrator's control system when the labeling process was complete so that the part could then be moved. The maximum application rate of up to 3 per minute was easily achieved.
Additionally, both labeling units were housed in air-conditioned enclosures from FOX IV to protect them from excessive heat as well as environmental dust and oil.

  • Robotic Interface Package
  • Low-label Sensors
  • Light Tower
  • Stainless Steel Environmental Enclosure
  • Installation and Training


Let Us Solve Your Labeling Challenges

Let our experts help you to fulfill your labeling goals.  FOX IV's experienced team will evaluate your application and recommend the products that will best meet your requirements.

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