Ultra-small, robust ceramic UHF RFID tags suitable for sterilisation

25th June 2018
Alex Lynn

The ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID transponders from Kyocera are applicable on metal and suitable for the sterilisation processes of surgical instruments in hospitals involving high temperatures, humidity and chemical exposure.

Kyocera offers small and robust UHF RFID tags consisting of ceramic packages with a proprietary multilayer structure including a built-in RFID antenna that can increase the read range up to two times compared with conventional tags of the same size. In addition, Kyocera has developed an ultra-small tag with a size of 5x2x1.5mm.

The new product offers a robust package made of Low Temperature Co-fired Ceramic (LTCC) with embedded antenna that withstands high temperatures up to 300°C (depending on RFID tag structure) and humidity levels up to 85%. Additionally, the ceramic package is designed with a special cavity structure to protect the IC chip against mechanical stress and chemical exposure.

Additionally, Kyocera’s UHF RFID tag has a unique antenna design which differentiates itself from conventional tags. The proprietary multilayer structure of the antenna results in an increased read range in combination with a miniaturised ultra-small tag size. The RFID tags offer a reading distance of 0.4m can be achieved with a tag of the size of 5x2x1.5mm (when applied on metal).

Kyocera offers four different sizes of the robust UHF RFID tag; the smallest UHF RFID tag offering an ultra-small design of only 5x2x1.5mm:

Dimensions: 5x2x1.5mm, 6x3x1.7mm, 10x5x1.7mm, 15x5x1.7mm
Read Range: 250mW: 10cm, 10cm, 25cm, 35cm
                         1W: 40cm, 60cm, 120cm, 18cm
IC type: Monza R6-P, Monza 4QT
Connection: Flip-Chip, Wire-Bonding
EPC memory: 128-bits
User memory: 32-bits, 512-bits
Note: Possible to use on metal

With the new European Medical Device Regulation (MDR) coming into force, a new law regarding consistent traceability of surgical tools is being introduced to Europe. The related worldwide system to assign a unique identifier to medical devices, called Unique Device Identification (UDI), will take effect from beginning of May 2021 for high risk products. In case of direct marking on the product, UDI will take effect from May 2023.

The new EU legislation fosters new ways of marking surgical instruments in the medical area, as well as traceability of surgical instruments gaining more and more importance. In an operation theatre, every surgical instrument has to be counted before and after an operation, in order to prevent those surgical instruments being left behind in the body of a patient after treatment.

Kyocera’s robust ceramic UHF RFID tags are suitable for identification and tracking of instruments. RFID tags will be attached to surgical instruments in order to stay on the instrument for the entire instrument lifetime. The attached tag will withstand operations and the sterilisation processes without negative impact on the reading performance due to the robust ceramic package of the RFID tag.

Additionally, RFID technology does not require line-of-sight scanning in contrast to barcode labels or direct marking technology. Through RFID tagging, multiple surgical instruments will be identified at a once through bulk reading, so that surgical instruments do not have to be counted manually anymore.

The surgical instrument check in an operation theatre can be done faster and hospitals can save time and costs by automatically identify surgical instruments. Due to the fact that no line-of-sight scanning of RFID is required, it is also possible to read RFID tags regardless of an instrument’s condition.

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