Sustainable way of producing RFID antennas

Paul Boughton
The manufacturing of RFID antennas through the process of etching is now being challenged by a new, patented technology: Walki-4E, a new way of producing flexible circuit boards efficiently and sustainably.

This is possible through a dry production process, involving no liquid chemicals and using paper as the substrate. It also allows for computer to antenna production and extremely accurate laser cutting of the circuit board patterns.
The traditional way of producing RFID antennas by etching has for a long period undergone only modest development. Walki, a leading producer of technical laminates, looked for ways to simplify the manufacturing process, while making use of their knowledge in lamination.

“We think that Walki-4E technology is the first feasible alternative to etching and that it will bring new dimensions of cost efficiency and sustainability to the industry,” says Sami Liponkoski, Business Line Manager at Walki.

In brief, the idea is to make a special laminate of aluminium and paper substrate, where the aluminium foil is cut in patterns using a laser.
The technology can be used for any production of flexible circuits boards, ranging from RFID antennas to boards for radiators and flexible displays. The first product to be launched using Walki-4E technology is Walki-Pantenna, a UHF RFID antenna.
The precision of the laser cutting of the patterns allows for smaller chips, greater repeatability in the production process and higher accuracy of the antenna.

Digitalisation of the production process, ie computer to antenna production, brings efficiency and allows for an endless number of variations in the patterns.

Fig. 1. Walki-4E technology is a new way of producing flexible circuit boards using a dry process and paper as the substrate, the first real alternative to the wet, chemical based process of etching.
Fig. 2. Computer to antenna production and laser cutting of the flexible board patterns allow for a speedy production process and extremely high accuracy. An example: the laser cuts with an accuracy of 20 microns while a human hair has the thickness of 100-120 microns.

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