RFID Tag on Metal

At a glance

The RFID tags for applications on metal developed by Fraunhofer IIS allow data to be written to and read from chips in environments that are unfavorable for radio communication. The design and technology of the compact RFID transponders are particularly insensitive to radio interference resulting from scattering and reflection effects produced by metallic objects.

In principle, RFID offers a level of flexibility that cannot be guaranteed by other forms of labeling in logistics. Not only is it possible to detect several hundred transponders simultaneously without the need for visual contact, RFID tags are rewriteable, meaning they can remain on the object and be used continuously.

The antenna design of the RFID tags combines low size and weight, robustness and reliable range on metallic substrates. Manufacturing and distribution are handled by the company HARTING Electric GmbH & Co KG.

Technical description

RFID Tags on Metal are adapted for environments that are unfavorable for radio communication
RFID-Tag on metal

The RFID tag for applications on metal satisfies for the first time all requirements across the entire storage and transport chain to ensure reliable and, above all, economically feasible data transmission. At just 41 x 11 x 5 mm, the transponder can carry 512 bits of identification and additional information that is protected against chemical influences.

On metal, the passive UHF transponder permits communication ranges of 3 to 5 m in narrowband and up to 1 to 2 m in broadband applications. However, the usable frequency spectrum differs in Europe and the USA, and the respective ranges determine which and how many frequency bands the sensors are designed for. With broadband UHF tags the size of a type plate, ranges of over 2.5 m have been achieved both for European and American standards. Narrow-band transponders that are designed only for a single national standard can make achieve up to twice the range. Fraunhofer IIS therefore offers RFID transponders with the best range/volume ratio in the world.


There are many possible applications for RFID technology on or in metallic environments. For example, production processes can be documented on electronic labels, with updating of the transponders at every production step. This allows seamless tracking of goods in logistics, precise recording of the production path taken by parts and protection against knock-offs thanks to unique identification. Internationally applicable standards also ensure the long-term, manufacturer-independent and, above all, inexpensive availability of our technology.

A concrete application of the RFID technology has already been implemented by Lufthansa Technik Logistik in cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS on a project for permanent labeling of replacement parts. The goal was to establish Lufthansa Technik Logistik as an industry benchmark in the field of permanent parts marking and to advance the RFID technology such that logistics and maintenance processes at the global level could be supported. Working together with HARTING Technologie, the project group achieved a critical breakthrough in April 2010, when RFID tags satisfying the strict requirements of aviation were installed across the entire spectrum of aircraft replacement parts. These now deliver reliable data over the entire service life of the replacement parts.


RFID at Fraunhofer IIS

The distribution partner and manufacturer of the passive RFID transponders for applications on metal is HARTING Electric GmbH & Co KG. In addition to this already existing product, Fraunhofer IIS can develop a product based on your individual needs. Take advantage of our full offering or select individual services:

  • RFID evaluation: We offer you precise analysis of the technical feasibility in advance. Fraunhofer IIS evaluates existing RFID systems with regard to their reliability and performance or develops entirely new solutions, if desired.
  • Cost-benefit analyses: We determine which solution is not only technically but also economically right for you.
  • Risk analysis: In addition to the right technology and high efficiency, your ideal tag must offer absolute data security, which we can test for you.
  • RFID development: If the solution you need cannot be found on the market, we will assist you with individually coordinated development work.
  • System design: Together with our strong partners, we can also design a complete RFID-based information system for you.
  • Implementation support: We ensure that your implementation phase is concluded quickly and reliably.
  • Service engineering: We plan new, additional RFID services for your internal and external customers based on your implemented system.