12 Things to Know Before Purchasing RFID Tags

1) What is your application?

First thing’s first, what’s your application? What is your end goal and what are you trying to achieve with RFID?

Do you have any RFID readers or software currently in place? If you plan on using your current reader or software, or have a specific one in mind, it will affect certain criteria of your RFID tags including the frequency, read range and polarization (orientation). Check your reader or software’s specs to see if this applies. (If you have a reader in place, skip to question 3)

2) What frequency will you be reading the RFID tags at?

In the US the read frequency is 902-928 MHz and in the EU its 865-868 MHz. Depending what frequency you read in, it can change the read range of the RFID tag by inches and sometimes even feet. When researching tags, be sure the manufacturer’s optimal read range specs match the same frequency you will be reading the tags in.

3) What data do you want to encode on your RFID tags?

The amount of data you want to store on your RFID tag can change which RFID chip is needed. The RFID chip stores the memory of your data. You don’t want to purchase a tag with a chip that won’t hold all of the data you want.

4) Will you also be printing on your RFID tags?

Printing on tags (especially on site) can change the construction of the RFID tag. For example, if you want to print a barcode or human readable serial number, durable constructed tags won’t work. Printing onsite can also affect the size of your label depending on your printer.

If you choose to have a manufacturer print your tags, it is much easier to have them encode them as well. This saves you time and ensures the printed data matches what is encoded on the tag.

5) What’s your ideal read range?

Depending on the RFID tag, read ranges can vary from 0-100+ feet. The difference comes with the type of tag being used: UHF, NFC or dual frequency. For example, in a warehouse you might be reading a tag on the third shelf from the floor, 18 feet away (UHF); while applications like Apple Pay read the tag from just inches away (NFC).

6) What surface will you be applying the tags to?

The surface of your asset can drastically change which RFID tag is right for you. The construction of an RFID tag differs based on its application surface. If it is made of or near metal or liquids, a typical RFID tag won’t read as well (or at all) than one specifically constructed to do so. This is due to the waves from the metal or liquid interfering with the radio waves.

Secondly, depending on the surface, you may need a rounded or flexible tag to fit your asset.

7) What environmental factors will your asset be exposed to?

Some RFID tags are constructed to be outdoor durable or exposed to harsh environments. Their features may include UV, chemical, and abrasion resistance.

8) How long will you need the RFID tags to last?

This, like asset surface and environmental factors, can also affect the construction of the RFID tag. A tag can be made to last a lifetime depending on the materials and wear and tear of its application. For example, an RFID tag molded in hard plastic can outlast some RFID labels in harsh environments.

9) Do you have any size restrictions?

The size of an RFID tag can differ greatly. In some applications the size doesn’t matter; however, if you’re tagging a tool versus a manufacturing machine, size will matter.

10) How do you want to attach the RFID tag to your asset?

It’s important to know if you want to permanently attach an RFID tag to the asset or be able to remove and reuse it. Many tags have versatile attachment methods including nails, screws, zip tie or optional added adhesive, while others can only be affixed a certain way, like an RFID label by its adhesive.

11) How many RFID tags will you need?

The number of RFID tags can affect production time and price breaks. Knowing this upfront can help make the timeline and budgeting processes run smoother.

12) What’s your project scope?

Keep a budget in mind and make sure your RFID tags, especially custom tags, can be produced and implemented in your goal timeframe. When building your timeline, make sure to include time for receiving and testing samples as well as time to produce custom tags if needed. You don’t want to rush the process only to decide on a tag that doesn’t work for your application.

Whether you’re unsure where to start, ready to purchase, or somewhere in between, reach out to our RFID experts – they’re here to help answer any questions you may have and help find the best solution for you!

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