Inspired and supported by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Commission, 6 world leading companies from 4 different EU countries, Cartamundi, Van Genechten Packaging, PragmatIC, SMARTRAC, Holst Centre/TNO and imec, have launched PING (Printed Intelligent NFC Game cards and packaging), a consortium to bring flexible electronics from the lab to mainstream markets. The overall goal of the PING consortium is the creation of a platform that enables and facilitates the production of smart printed objects based on new technologies. Flexible thin-film electronics and printed materials, like cards, stickers and packaging, make a perfect combination to realise the Internet of Things.
The collaboration intends to establish, within 3 years, a standardized low cost and high volume manufacturing flow for embedding wireless identification and power transfer technology into printed objects (i.e. packaging, cards, stickers) and printable substrates (i.e. paper, cardboard, plastic). The process, based on innovative thin-film electronics, will enable the identification and interaction of printed objects through standard NFC and RFID reading devices (e.g. smartphones). Moreover, the project will also explore the integration of additional features such as sensors, displays and sound, ultimately paving the way to the realisation of the 'Internet of Things' and the 'Internet of Games'.
Imec and TNO will focus on the development of a flexible thin-film technology and chip design. PragmatIC will work with imec and TNO to align developed designs with its own mass manufacturing processes, transferring future generation NFC chips into commercial production. SMARTRAC will contribute its expertise in antenna design and printing technologies with a special focus on the connection interface between the printed antenna and TFT electronics. Cartamundi and Van Genechten Packaging will perform the last step of the supply chain: embedding the electronics in printed products.
Cartamundi, Holst Centre/TNO and imec already started working together to establish the knowledge platform for integrated circuit (IC) design in thin-film technologies, targeting NFC chip as a minimum viable product demonstrator. With this background and the help of the new consortium partners, all consortium members will be able to bring these first realisations to the next level and to establish a complete and reliable supply chain for volume manufacturing.