US-based Appleton has begun beta testing its SmartStrate label stock which it says is the first label stock specifically engineered for RFID smart labels.

The company says the new product overcomes chip inlay failures associated with mechanical damage and electrostatic discharge, as well as issues related to printing on an uneven label face stock.

“Substrates play a critical role in the viability of RFID systems,” said Vince Reese, business development manager. “As an electronic component, how an RFID inlay is packaged dramatically impacts its overall performance. SmartStrate reduces, or in some cases, eliminates the issues that lead to RFID system failure.”

The SmartStrate under test is a thermal transfer label stock that features special coatings that dissipate static electricity. Appleton says common electrostatic discharges can corrupt information stored on an RFID chip or even render the chip non-readable.

In laboratory tests RFID chips on SmartStrate functioned normally after receiving discharge voltages three times higher than those that damaged or destroyed chips on conventional label stock.

SmartStrate uses a proprietary cushioning material that protects the inlay (chip, antenna and lead) against physical damage.

In addition to providing mechanical protection, the cushioning layer provides a uniform surface for printing, making it possible to print over the entire label surface.