Printed Electronics: The Opportunities for Smart Packaging

In the close future, more and more products will have packaging that includes printed electronics. Several do already and provide lots of benefits compared to conventional packaging. These being authenticity checks, tracking, or games.

With Printed Electronics (PE) emerging throughout the world of printing, smart packaging is becoming the new standard for point of sale packaging solutions in the foreseeable future. Being one of the fastest growing industry branches it ensures the packaging industry to remain the financially strongest party in printing.

With Printed Electronics (PE) emerging throughout the world of printing, smart packaging is becoming the new standard for point of sale packaging solutions in the foreseeable future. Being one of the fastest growing industry branches it ensures the packaging industry to remain the financially strongest party in printing.

Printed Electronics to Fuel Individualization for Future Packaging

Since cell phones became smartphones, watches turning into smartwatches, and TVs into smart TVs, it was only a matter of time until smart technology was affordable enough to turn packaging into smart packaging.

From attracting the customers’ attention to providing information about the product’s heritage, smart packaging has a lot of benefits to its conventional pendant. Using printed electronics, producers can interactively communicate their message to the customer and give them much-needed information.

NFC Helps Ensuring the Authenticity of Products

The technology behind these advancements is called Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC enables two transmitters to communicate with each other and it can easily be printed on labels at a low cost. Holding a smart phone next to (about 1 to 4 cm distance) to the NFC transmitter, the device is able to read the information provided by the label. Many businesses which are victims to counterfeits use NFC transmitters printed on their labels in order to prove the authenticity of their products. The Italian olive oil industry, for instance, has recently suffered from fraudulent products claimed to be “extra virgin” while they actually are a cheaper, inferior sort.

So Pietro Barachini, founder of iOlive, now use NFC technology to provide authentication information that’s basically impossible to fake: “Initially, I owned a small nursery plant of olive trees,” he noted. “Today, we produce 250,000 certified plants. All of our olive trees are produced from mother plants in the nursery. Italy’s olive oil industry has had many fraud scandals, including many top brands passing off inferior oil as extra virgin. The damage caused by the deceit has been significant, not only to the industry and brands but to consumer trust. Using NFC technology, in conjunction with the iOlive app, has helped to authenticate the Tuscany region’s legitimately produced olive oil.”

Printed Electronics Provide Added Benefits to Consumers

Besides uses that ensure future financial viability for the company, printed Electronics can also be used to directly communicate with the customer and build a strong connection with the respective brand. Using NFC, products can not only provide information on their heritage but they might be used for further information like nutritional facts, coupons, games, and other programs that include the shopper more into the brand world.

Sun Chemical’s Global Commercial and Strategic Initiatives Director, Electronic Materials, Roy Bjorlin says: “We are now more connected digitally across the globe than we have ever been before through social media, mobile devices, wearables and more. It is therefore not surprising to see a growing desire from our brand owner and converter partners to utilize smart packaging to connect to mobile devices.”

The printing and packaging industry has definitely done their homework on the marketing principle “mobile first”. Using NFC tags in packaging provides them with a new way of interacting with their customers and helps to set themselves apart from their competition in creative ways.

We are excited to see in which way printed electronics will improve in the next couple of years and are looking forward to seeing lots of them here at drupa 2020.

Have you ever interacted with a product that has an NFC tag? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section!