Toppan’s new smart packages feature embedded NFC functions

Integrated NFC tags for security, design & streamlined manufacture

Toppan embedded NFC
Toppan’s new smart packages feature embedded NFC functions Photo Toppan Printing

Tokyo – June 22, 2021 – Toppan Printing, a global leader in communication, security, packaging, décor materials, and electronics solutions has integrated tamper-evident NFC(1) tag functions into the structure of paper-based packages to develop a new type of smart packaging that enhances security and helps streamline the manufacturing process while also preserving package design. Toppan has initially created four concept types for this packaging and will offer customization matched to client needs going forward.

RFID, NFC, and other ID technologies have been used for product management for some time. Labels for this purpose are commonly applied to the surfaces of product packages. This, however, can negatively impact printed graphics or appearance because packages are not necessarily designed to accommodate such a label, and the need to apply labels during packaging manufacture also increases the workload. Another disadvantage is that labels can be removed as well as reapplied to other items, giving rise to potential risks of counterfeiting, grey market diversion, and other fraudulent activities in the supply chain.

To combat these issues, Toppan has developed smart packaging whereby the ID label is embedded in the package itself. Integrating the NFC tag function as a part of the packaging structure ensures a higher level of security and helps to reduce the workload associated with applying conventional NFC labels to packages. With this new concept, Toppan will accelerate the creation of smart packages incorporating ID authentication technologies to cater to businesses looking to advance digital transformation (DX) in their manufacturing and sales processes.

Part of the NFC communication circuit built into packages employs a brittle structure. If an attempt is made to separate the NFC tag from the package, the circuit is destroyed and the NFC tag no longer functions, therefore reducing risks related to removal of the NFC tag, including counterfeiting and grey market diversion of labels, products, or packaging.

Toppan has devised four concept types of packaging with built-in NFC functionality. Clockwise from top left, one-piece tuck top box type, straight tuck box type, blister card type, and molded pulp type Images Toppan Printing
Toppan has devised four concept types of packaging with built-in NFC functionality. Clockwise from top left, one-piece tuck top box type, straight tuck box type, blister card type, and molded pulp type Images Toppan Printing

In addition to the NFC communication circuit, a circuit that detects disconnection can be positioned to detect opening of the package. NFC tag functions are maintained even if this additional circuit is broken, meaning that scanning with a smartphone or other NFC-enabled device is still possible after a product has been opened. As well as bolstering security, this opening detection function also has benefits for consumer engagement because brands can vary the content and information provided to consumers based on whether they have opened the product or not.

Embedding the NFC tag into the package during manufacture means that, in contrast to NFC labels, the graphic design on the package surface is not affected. The required NFC communication performance can also be ensured by selecting suitable packaging materials and circuits at the stage of package design, which assumes the presence of the NFC tag. Integration of the tag and package also eliminates the need for processes associated with affixing labels to packages, helping to streamline and reduce the workload of manufacturing.

Fusing our packaging and ID technologies makes it possible to create this kind of integrated solution that supports digital transformation and brings value in terms of security, efficiency and communication with consumers,” said Takamitsu Nakabayashi, senior R&D manager in Toppan’s Security business. “Toppan will continue to drive development of smart packaging as we target a broad range of applications for these new products in the near future.”

Toppan’s new integrated NFC smart packages will be on show in the Toppan booth at AIPIA Asia Summit 2021 (June 23), the international congress for smart packaging, and Luxe Pack Shanghai 2021 (July 7–8), the premier trade show for luxury packaging.

1. Near-field Communication (NFC) is a radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. It is a set of common protocols for wireless communication over short distances. NFC tags containing IC chips can be read and written using devices with NFC reader/writer functions.


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