Researchers have developed a new non destructive process to equip metallic components with rfid chips during the operating process. Previously this has not been possible due to the extreme production temperatures.
Developers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing and Advanced Materials are utilising the 'rapid manufacturing method'. This involves a machine producing a component based on a 3D CAD model and building it layer by layer directly from a computer. The laser melts off areas of each metal powder layer that are intended to be solid. The building platform is then lowered and the process restarts until the component is completed. Fraunhofer scientists claim that they can control this process in a manner that allows the rfid to be installed and completely encased by the material. The researchers say that this new process allows critical information in radio tags to be encased within the metal component, making it tamper proof and resistant to fraud – if someone tries to remove the chip, they will destroy it in the attempt. In the future, the development team think that it may be possible to do more than just reading the identification code – it may be possible to store information during the period of usage. With the aid of temperature or expansion sensors, it may even be possible to record data on thermal or mechanical stresses on the components.