RFID in Lightweight Design

At a glance

It has become possible to equip components made from composite materials with devices for storing manufacturing information. Working in a consortium of seven partners, Fraunhofer IIS has succeeded in developing RFID transponders that work reliably even when embedded in conductive parts that are exposed to harsh conditions. For instance, the transponders can be incorporated in aircraft components, as they are able to withstand temperatures up to 180 °C and pressures up to 10 bar during manufacturing processes. They can be embedded in glass-fiber- as well as carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic.

The project was carried out with funding from the Bavarian Research Foundation and in conjunction with partners such as ACC Technologies, EADS, Eurocopter, Schreiner LogiDATA, Tajima and TU Munich.

Technical description

As part of the project, innovative antenna design methodologies were used to create a novel RFID transponder. Significantly smaller than comparable products, the transponder requires no modification to manufacturing processes and could even be used in small components. We have developed transponders that can withstand high pressure (up to 10 bar) and temperatures (up to 180 °C). In addition, we have overcome the challenges associated with embedding antennas in conductive composites reinforced with glass or carbon fiber. The specific difficulties posed by these materials only marginally affect our newly developed, state-of-the-art transponders.


Being ideally suited for lightweight structures, fiber-reinforced plastics are increasingly used for technical products. To help improve manufacturing processes through efficient information management, Fraunhofer IIS has developed a UHF RFID transponder that can be adapted to specific types of FRP components and used inside them over their entire life cycle. In collaboration with our partners, we will implement, among other things, solutions for production and process control as well as component traceability. Our RFID approach represents a huge improvement on conventional, i.e. manual and paper-based methods.


RFID Integration in beliebigen Materialien für Identifizierung, Ortung, Lokalisierung, Positioning, Logistik, Produktion, Logistics, Production, Faserverbundwerkstoffe, Radio Frequency Identification
© Guido Vrola - Fotolia.com
Application in the Aviation Industry

During manufacturing and assembly, FRP components undergo complex processes that would place excessive stress on conventional transponders. This is particularly the case in the aviation industry, which served as the application scenario for the project. However, since the processes are crucial to the quality and usability of the components produced, demanding requirements need to be met in terms of process documentation. It is now feasible to incorporate RFID tags into aircraft components made from glass-fiber- or carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. The tags make it possible to store and retrieve information about production steps, thus greatly improving processes.


Over the past two decades, Fraunhofer IIS has acquired in-depth expertise through numerous R&D projects concerned with developing components and designing antennas, which are a key element of hardware modules. We have abundant resources at our disposal, such as specialized test sites and facilities – including the L.I.N.K. test center – as well as sophisticated measuring equipment, which guarantees reliable verification of results in both field and controlled conditions.

Our experience in RFID technology makes us a partner you can rely on. Working together with you, we will develop RFID transponders that can be embedded in fiber-reinforced plastic or other materials. The transponders will be tailored to your specific needs, allowing you to optimize your manufacturing processes.