Ann Arbor, MI (August 19, 2003) – Flint Ink has launched a separate business unit, PRECISIA, LLC , in conjunction with its multimillion-dollar commitment to be the leading provider of conductive and advanced printing inks, and printed electronics technology and processes. The new subsidiary will be responsible for building the company’s radio frequency identification (RFID) business, in addition to other printed electronics applications, including “smart” packaging, printed electronics, lighting and displays.
Flint Ink President Dave Frescoln notes that the widespread interest in printed electronics applications has validated and reinforced the company’s business strategy in launching PRECISIA. “The fact that PRECISIA has substantial dedicated resources, both financial and intellectual, and the potential to leverage Flint Ink’s existing relationships, positions the company at the forefront of providing leading-edge products and services to this emerging market,” he says.
Conductive inks, which contain particles of conductive silver and/or carbon, can serve as channels for the wireless flow of electronic signals. The most well-known application for conductive inks is in antennas for RFID, a next-generation coding technology. Conductive inks are also used in “smart” labeling and packaging applications.
The name “PRECISIA ” was derived by combining “precious metals,” which are used to manufacture conductive inks, and “precision,” which refers to the highly detailed and fine-line printing used in RFID and other electronics applications.
Earlier this year, Flint Ink announced a multi-million dollar commitment to support its initiatives in the printed electronics segment. This commitment, including staff expansion and development of a state-of-the-art printed electronics resource center, has positioned PRECISIA to capture a significant share of this emerging market.
Flint Ink has since named PRECISIA’s leadership team, formed numerous strategic alliances with businesses and organizations whose products and services complement or enhance PRECISIA’s offerings, and entered the final stage of work in completing the new PRECISIA Printed Electronics Resource Center.
At PRECISIA’s helm is President Jim Rohrkemper, who was previously vice president, Emerging Business Segments at Flint Ink. PRECISIA’s management team also includes Dan Lawrence, director of technology and commercialization, and Bob Thompson, director of the PRECISIA Resource Center. Mark Raymond, Jason Brewer, Tom Judge (Europe) and Rychee Parmann serve in sales and business development positions; and Matthew Newman and Sayantan Bose in technical applications roles. In addition, the team will be supported by staff at Flint Ink’s Research Center, including Cathy Ehehalt, Michael Fein, Dan Tonchev, and Technical Director Jim Rogers.
“The demand for RFID, intelligent packaging and other printed electronics applications has been intense since the announcement earlier this year of our decision to invest in conductive and advanced materials and markets,” says Rohrkemper. “Since then, we have started construction on our new facility, added management and staff, and solidified several joint development and partnering initiatives. We have a number of conductive products available today, and are looking forward to prototyping, researching and working with our customers on specific projects at our new PRECISIA Resource Center.”
The Resource Center will be located within ten miles of Flint Ink’s world headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is expected to open for business in the fourth quarter of 2003. It will house sophisticated laboratories, a state-of-the-art pressroom, and other advanced technologies. This centralization of assets will allow PRECISIA to rapidly assess and understand specific customer requirements, select appropriate ink technology, and develop application-specific solutions. According to Rohrkemper, being able to reduce cycle time – the time from concept to product delivery – is critical in such a high-tech environment. The center will provide the resources necessary to speed the process.
To help ensure the overall success of the venture, Flint Ink and PRECISIA have formed strategic business alliances with numerous companies and organizations whose products and services complement or enhance printed electronics applications.
PRECISIA’s business partners include R.T. Circuits (Scotland), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Boston), MIT’s Auto-ID Center (Boston), University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), and Advanced Conductive Materials (California).
RFID and “Smart” Labels
RFID tags are comprised of a silicon chip and an antenna. The chip carries identification data and a radio frequency signal that can be detected at a distance. The chip receives and transmits the data (such as a product identification number) using the antenna. The radio signal is picked up by another source, such as a computer or scanner, which then reads the information that is being transmitted. Conductive inks can be used in place of traditional coils for the antenna.
“Smart” labels are active RFID labels which can track, process and store data. Smart labels provide manufacturers and distributors with real-time visibility in inventory, and can help a manufacturer monitor conditions and location anywhere in a supply chain system. For example, they can be used to monitor packaged foods and pharmaceuticals that must be stored and shipped at precise temperatures. A smart label using a conductive ink antenna can potentially gauge the temperature in shipment and alert a supplier to harmful shifts in temperature.
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