Ecologically benign technology for joining polymeric products
Simtrona is a micro-company specialised in the development and production of RFID tags for wood marking. These labels are gradually replacing standard barcode identifiers, and the global demand is estimated to several billion annually. The company invented RFID nails, called Smart Nails, which are designed and constructed for marking both trees and round timber, as well as all kinds of wood products and semi-products. Marking means that each wooden object gets a unique code in order to monitor timber flow, control the wood economy, and prevent misuse.
The key problem was the use of ecologically inappropriate technology for the treatment of polymeric components before bonding because it included brushing and activation with hazardous chemicals. So far, it was believed that each type of material should be glued or printed using a special glue or printable dye, as prescribed by the producer of the material. However, it is now known that most materials can be glued with a broad range of glues, provided that the products are treated by gaseous plasma. The implementation of the KET4CleanProduction pilot project enabled the production of top-quality Smart Nails.
KET Technology Centers involved
Jožef Stefan Institute | Slovenia
International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory | Portugal
Due to the Project, a product with more than 40 years of warranty has been developed. Furthermore, the production technology is ecologically benign, since there are no chemicals used during the production or further surface treatment of Smart Nails. For this reason, Smart Nails are reasonably priced.
The company is very satisfied with the Project’s results because marking the trees in the early stage ensures optimal monitoring of the trees' growth and other parameters. The quality of the products is pretty much perfect: all the tests performed so far indicate that it is not possible to degrade the joint between the two components of the Smart Nail. Therefore, the chip, antenna and other Smart Nail components are well-protected from the environment.
The project has helped us to produce a superior quality prototype and to understand the basics of plasma technologies, as well as different possible applications of this technology.
The key success factor was the opportunity to interact and cooperate with technological centres with a great amount of experience.
A company like Simtrona cannot invest in services provided by world-class scientists due to the unstable market situation and poor assurance that the investment would actually lead to something profitable for the company. According to ageing tests performed by the KET Technological centre, the innovative technology for the production of Smart Nails allows for a warranty four times longer than before. Since they are always exposed to a harsh environment, this is a key achievement in the field of wood and timber.