RR Donnelley Invests in Print’s Future

Lithium batteries have long set limits on the design of small electronics. Printed electronics technology, however, allows the production of customizable, thin-film green batteries. These flexible alternatives may have a bright future in wearable electronic clothing and medical implants—or they might make possible a mobile phone as thin as a credit card. Several companies are now designing such batteries using printing methods much like those employed to make silk-screened t-shirts, but they lay down layers of electrochemical inks made of zinc, metal oxide, and electrolytes rather than fluorescent dyes.

RR Donnelley sees the potential. In 2011 it claimed an equity position in Solicore, an embedded power solutions, wherein the partners commercially agreed to develop printed batteries. This past April, Donnelley introduced RFID and NFC production capabilities as part of its printed electronics strategy. These capabilities enable the company to provide customers with printed NFC and RFID tags that can be embedded in a range of other products.

“Our Digital Solutions offering is positioned to help our customers create and execute extended consumer experiences,” explains Ken O’Brien, RR Donnelley’s Chief Information Officer.

CEO Thomas Quinlan adds, “Now we offer customers single-source convenience and control as we produce their RFID and NFC tags and integrate them with other materials that we create. We can develop and host the mobile consumer experience initiated and even provide response analytics about the programs’ effectiveness.”

Ronnie Sarkar, Donnelley Senior VP of Technology Innovations, states, “The printed electronics solutions that we develop boost production flexibility. We can change the production line to accommodate different specifications, reducing the cycle time associated with bringing RFID and NFC tags to market.”

Donnelley’s manufacturing process allows customers to take advantage of flexible antenna design and production capabilities that tune the performance of their tags to specific applications for enhanced performance. The firm’s offering includes a complete suite of antenna design, testing, and proof-of-concept services to help customers identify optimal designs.