Toppan has initially created four concept types for this packaging and will offer customization matched to client needs going forward.
RFID, NFC, and other ID technologies have been used for product management for some time. Labels for this purpose are commonly applied to the surfaces of product packages. This, however, can negatively impact printed graphics or appearance because packages are not necessarily designed to accommodate such a label, and the need to apply labels during packaging manufacture also increases the workload. Another disadvantage is that labels can be removed as well as reapplied to other items, giving rise to potential risks of counterfeiting, grey market diversion, and other fraudulent activities in the supply chain.
To combat these issues, Toppan has developed smart packaging whereby the ID label is embedded in the package itself. Integrating the NFC tag function as a part of the packaging structure ensures a higher level of security and helps to reduce the workload associated with applying conventional NFC labels to packages. With this new concept, Toppan will accelerate the creation of smart packages incorporating ID authentication technologies to cater to businesses looking to advance digital transformation (DX) in their manufacturing and sales processes.
Part of the NFC communication circuit built into packages employs a brittle structure. If an attempt is made to separate the NFC tag from the package, the circuit is destroyed and the NFC tag no longer functions, therefore reducing risks related to removal of the NFC tag, including counterfeiting and grey market diversion of labels, products, or packaging.
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In addition to the NFC communication circuit, a circuit that detects disconnection can be positioned to detect opening of the package. NFC tag functions are maintained even if this additional circuit is broken, meaning that scanning with a smartphone or other NFC-enabled device is still possible after a product has been opened. As well as bolstering security, this opening detection function also has benefits for consumer engagement because brands can vary the content and information provided to consumers based on whether they have opened the product or not.
Embedding the NFC tag into the package during manufacture means that, in contrast to NFC labels, the graphic design on the package surface is not affected. The required NFC communication performance can also be ensured by selecting suitable packaging materials and circuits at the stage of package design, which assumes the presence of the NFC tag. Integration of the tag and package also eliminates the need for processes associated with affixing labels to packages, helping to streamline and reduce the workload of manufacturing.
“Fusing our packaging and ID technologies makes it possible to create this kind of integrated solution that supports digital transformation and brings value in terms of security, efficiency and communication with consumers,” said Takamitsu Nakabayashi, senior R&D manager in Toppan’s Security business. “Toppan will continue to drive development of smart packaging as we target a broad range of applications for these new products in the near future.”