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RFID Encoders

RFID tags begin blank and so need to be electronically encoded with a product number or other designation before the tag is useful as an inventory tracking aid. Devices to perform this electronic encoding are called "encoders" and are available as:

  • standalone units - standalone (or single purpose) encoders have simple utility functions for encoding labels without the need for external software or a computer hookup. This might be sufficient if you are manufacturing a single item, need to mark the RFID tags with the same number, and are not concerned about capturing and storing information separately from the tags.
  • simple encoders - these units hook up to computers, are about the size of a small label printer, and connect using either the RS-232 or USB ports. The encoding software allows basic tag or card initialization and puts the same number or sequential numbers onto the tags or cards.
  • special purpose computer hardware peripherals - these more complex units work with encoding software to "burn in" the desired data into the tag. These allow you to rapidly create unique tags as well as transfer to the tags information such as a customer address from your order system.

You may also want to consider a combination encoder/barcode printer. By encoding an RFID tag underneath a printed barcode label (a "smart label"), inventory tracking can be done electronically as well as visually. Smart label printers use special

paper which includes the thin RF chip or metallic bars. These printers can be small (about the size as a label printer without RFID encoding capability) with basic functionality, or large, supporting high volume, remote control, and automated label adhesion to packages.
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