Label printer supports wide RFID range

By George Reynolds

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Rfid Rfid tags

A new label printer supports the widest range of radio frequency
identification (RFID) tags in the industry, claims its

Printronix claims its new SL4M printer supports the widest selection of ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID tags in the industry. This allows a single platform to support the various applications and requirements for RFID labeling in the logistics supply chain. RFID is seen as the next breakthrough in supply chain management, allowing the food industry to track and trace products at an individual level. Retailers are pushing for proliferation of the technology, while manufacturers' enthusiasm is slow due to the high cost of the technology compared to the value of the goods it is designed to identify. Supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Metro have set mandates, forcing their suppliers to upgrade to RFID systems. Others are sure to follow, therefore RFID is inevitable. Today's problem facing manufacturers and retailers alike, is how can a standard be found that enables those embracing the technology to work with those slow on its uptake. Incorporating RFID tags into labels is one answer. While the data stored on tags can be detected using advanced equipment, a denominator of the RFID information, such as a barcode, can be displayed on a label that can be easily read with existing equipment. A further problem affecting a standard approach is the variety of RFID tags available. RFID technology, even down to shape and size of tags, is not standardized. Before RFID becomes widely used in the future, solutions are being sought to find not only a way of allowing the whole supply chain to communicate whether or not they detect tags or read labels, but also how to find a standard between labels and the vast array of RFID on the market at present. The SL4M is the first midrange, industrial-grade metal printer/encoder designed for global Class 1 Gen 2 ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID applications, the manufacturer claims. Gen 2 RFID is an attempt to create a global standard, simplifying the multiple system variances currently in use. Robert Kleist, president and chief executive officer of Printronix said that feedback from installations of demonstated the industries highest read-and-encode performance as well as the widest breath of tag support. "For major retailers, manufacturers and distribution centers around the world, the SL4M offers the most cost-effective RFID solution with its patented MP2 encoding technology," he said. The SL4M can integrate into most bar code printing lines with support for six printer languages and direct XML printing for either 203 or 305 dpi resolution, the company claims. Configuration and installation is made simply by the icon-driven graphic interface, claims the manufacturer. The 32MB RAM and 8MB Flash memory provided with the SL4M is twice as much as other products in its class and performs faster, storing more information, claims Printronix. The advanced tag calibration and wide breadth of Class 1 Gen 2 UHF tag support, allows users to experiment with new tags and inlays and deplete existing media inventory of non-standard tag positions, the manufacturer claims. Jose Basa, senior business specialist for RFID at Printronix said that the launch of the industry's first commercially available multi-protocol UHF RFID printer/encoder removed some major barriers. "Today, Printronix becomes the first to offer certified Gen 2 hardware compliance with label interoperability throughout the entire family of thermal barcode printer/encoders and automated encoder printer/applicators." Global standard certified hardware encoders ensure performance is reliable and predictable, claims Printronix. A multi-position coupler isolates and links directly with individual tags while moving into the best position for Gen 2 tags that do not emit an evenly distributed RF field. The firmware included, which allows upgrades without hardware changes, ties the thermal printer, coupler and encoder together ensuring synchronized performance with the widest Class 1 Gen 2 tag support. Internal 10/100 Base-T Ethernet connectivity and PrintNet remote management and control comes as standard with the printer. Worldwide compliance requirements as well as local printing needs can be met using Unicode with TrueType font support. The SL4M is available in a field-upgradeable, RFID-ready thermal printer model. The SL4M is available from Printronix through its network of partners across the world. The base price is US $3,695, however regional pricing may vary with currency fluctuations. US-based Printronix provides printing solutions, including thermal bar-code and fanfold laser printing, for numerous industries and supply chain.

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