The company's new InstaCure formulations allow printing of RFID antennas and complex electronic circuitry, including flexible paper sensors (package security), sensor grids (pharmaceutical packaging monitors), keypads (disposable electronic paper diaries) and backplane components (flexible displays).
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a technology that hooks miniature antennas up to tiny computer chips smaller than a grain of sand to track items at a distance. This form packaging is increasingly being used in the food industry as a means of ensuring traceability along the supply-chain and achieving better counterfeit protection.
New EU legislation obliges food manufacturers to have complete control over their supply chain, and retailers such as Metro are pushing many of their suppliers to use RFID technology.
"By facilitating full interaction between the ink development and smart packaging electronics engineering teams we are providing a winning combination in driving efficiencies into the RFID and IAP development and commercialisation process," said Michael Petersen, chief operating officer of Information Mediary Corp, a firm co-located with Xink Laboratories.
"Originally we intended to develop robust inks for our IAP initiatives, such as the Med-ic Digital Package developed in cooperation with International Paper, but we realised Xink's InstaCure formulations can re-invigorate the printed RFID antenna efforts."
The current line of Xink InstaCure formulations includes a solvent-free high-conductive silver ink, and a "tunable" resistor ink. Xink's formulations can be applied in a single pass on standard printing presses, require no heat curing, and can be printed on a range of heatseal paper boards used in packaging as well as other flexible substrates which would not withstand high temperature heat curing.
"We are currently working on pilot printing projects with some of the world's leading development teams in the printing, packaging, ink, press, and RFID industries to provide immediate sampling availability of these inks, with industrial production scheduled to begin in early 2005," said Dan Tonchev, Xink Laboratories' chief scientist.
The company claims that a preview of the new ink formulations was extremely well received by global experts at the IMI Printable Electronics and Displays Conference in Las Vegas.
Unlike previous attempts at producing flexographic inks for RFID antenna production, XINK InstaCure. formulations provide optimal properties in the areas of conductivity, press handling, curing, and substrate compatibility on any standard flexographic press.
"Our water-based inks allow the manufacturing of printed antennas directly on most standard paper and label stock in a normal print-shop environment - a significant breakthrough from all previous attempts" said Tonchev.
The packaging ink sector has been under considerable cost pressure for some time. Print suppliers such as Flint claim to have been forced into making price increases for packaging ink products because of the rising costs of transportation, energy, and raw materials.
Limited raw material supply, an escalating issue worldwide, has exacerbated the problem.
Canada-based Xink Laboratories builds advanced conductive ink formulations to enable the industrial production of RFID antennas, conductive circuits, smart packaging, and printed sensors.