ULTRASONICALLY WELDED LABEL SYSTEMS AND METHODS
1. A label, comprising:
- a first layer;
a second layer ultrasonically welded to the first layer; and
at least one radio frequency identification (“
) inlay disposed between the first layer and the second layer.
Systems and methods of using ultrasonic welding to form labels with RFID tags are disclosed. The methods can be useful for the production of a large volume of labels such as production with roll-to-roll processing. The labels can be useful for consumer products such as garments. The present invention discloses in one embodiment, a label having a first and second printed fabric label layer such that a radio frequency identification (RFID) inlay is disposed between the two printed fabric layers
- 1. A label, comprising:
a first layer; a second layer ultrasonically welded to the first layer; and at least one radio frequency identification (“
) inlay disposed between the first layer and the second layer.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
- 9. A roll-to-roll label processing apparatus, comprising:
a lamination roll configured to receive a first printed fabric label layer, an RFID inlay, and a second printed fabric label layer, and press the RFID inlay between the first printed fabric label layer and the second printed fabric label layer to form a joined label; and one or more ultrasonic welders configured to ultrasonically weld portions of the second printed fabric label layer to the first printed fabric layer against one or more corresponding rotary anvils to form an continuous web of labels.
- View Dependent Claims (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
- 18. A method, comprising:
receiving, by a lamination roll, a first printed fabric label layer, a plurality of RFID inlays, and a second printed fabric label layer; joining, by the lamination roll, the first printed fabric label layer, the plurality of RFID inlays, and the second printed fabric label layer; and ultrasonically welding, by an ultrasonic welder, portions of the second printed fabric layer to the first printed fabric label layer to seal one or more RFID inlays between the first printed fabric layer and the second printed fabric layer to form a continuous web of individual labels each including at least one RFID inlay.
- View Dependent Claims (19, 20)
The present application claims priority to and the benefit of Unites States provisional utility patent application No. 62/752,830 filed Oct. 30, 2018, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
The subject application generally relates to systems and methods for generating printed labels, and specifically to systems and methods of using ultrasonic welding to secure Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”) devices to printed labels.
Consumer products, such as, but not limited to, garments and textiles, include labels with indicia detailing information such as the garment size, the country of origin, brand information, and instructions on how to care for the product. Manufacturers, or intermediates, purchase labels in bulk for placement on products for easy identification and tracking of products in the marketplace. Labels are generated in batches, or runs, that can include thousands of labels and are often delivered in rolls from which individual labels can be cut and then secured to the products.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags may be remotely powerable transponders which can be useful for inventory management, supply chain monitoring, security, point of sale processes, and other applications.
According to certain embodiments, a label includes a first printed fabric layer, a second printed fabric layer ultrasonically welded to the first printed fabric layer, and a radio frequency identification (“RFID”) inlay disposed between the first printed fabric label layer and the second printed fabric layer. The label can include an adhesive configured to secure the RFID inlay to the first printed fabric layer. The label can include one or more waterproof layers disposed between the RFID inlay and one or both of the printed fabric layers.
In certain other embodiments, a roll-to-roll processing apparatus includes a lamination roll that is configured to receive a first printed fabric layer, an RFID inlay, and a second printed fabric layer and press the RFID inlay between the first printed fabric label layer and the second printed fabric label layer to form a joined label. The roll-to-roll processing apparatus includes one or more ultrasonic welders configured to weld portions of the second printed fabric label to the first printed fabric layers against corresponding rotary anvils to form a continuous web of individual labels. The roll-to-roll processing apparatus can include an edges slitting roller that trims the sides of the continuous web, and a sonic knife configured to separate individual labels from the continuous web.
According to yet other embodiments, a method includes receiving a first printed fabric label layer, a plurality of RFID inlays, and a second printed fabric label layer by a lamination roller. The method further includes joining the first printed fabric label layer, the plurality of RFID inlays, and the second printed fabric label layer by the lamination roller. The method further includes ultrasonically welding portions of the second printed fabric layer to the first printed fabric layer against a rotary anvil by an ultrasonic welder so as to seal one or more RFID inlays between the first printed fabric layer and the second printed fabric layer and form a continuous web of individual labels each containing at least one RFID inlay. The method can include trimming the edge of the continuous web by an edge slitting roller and separating individual labels from the continuous web by a sonic knife.
Various embodiments will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings.
Systems and methods are disclosed herein which describe ultrasonic welded labels including RFID tags. As can be appreciated, it can be advantageous for labels, such as garment and textile care labels, to include RFID tags to improve inventory management, supply chain monitoring, and security. Use of ultrasonic welding can facilitate the formation of labels with improved stiffness and improved durability compared to known labels incorporating RIFD tags. The methods described herein can be particularly useful for roll-to-roll processing.
The systems and methods are described in detail including by reference to
Generally, the systems and methods described herein detail the formation of RFID-containing labels using ultrasonic welding to bond one or more layers of the label together. Use of ultrasonic welding, as opposed to the use of an adhesive, can facilitate the formation of RFID-containing labels with desirable stiffness, durability, and ease of manufacturing as well as improved design. Ultrasonic welding can facilitate such improvements by offering variable adhesion strength to bonded surfaces in addition to being well suited for roll-to-roll manufacturing.
The labels described herein can generally include any labels with more than one layer, including labels with two or three layers. It is important to note that the present invention is not limited to any number of layers. Labels which can be formed using the techniques described herein can include multilayer printed fabric labels as well as multilayer labels formed of other materials such as wood, paper or carbon fiber which exhibit sufficient flexibility and softness.
In certain embodiments, the labels can be particularly advantageous for use as a fabric label which can be attached to a garment. As can be appreciated however, the methods described herein can be adapted to alternatively form labels for other applications as well.
Referring now to
At least one Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) inlay 104 is disposed between the top layer 102 and the bottom layer 108. If there are a plurality of inlays present, the inlays 104 are periodically spaced so as to substantially align with the artwork in the printed fabric layers 102, 108. In certain embodiments, the at least one RFID inlay 104 can be carried on a continuous length of substrate that includes RFID devices disposed periodically along the length of the substrate. As would be appreciated in the art, any suitable RFID device known in the art can be used for the RFID inlay 104. For example, an RFID inlay 104 can include at least one RFID chip that are each in electrical communication with a suitable RFID antenna of any particular size or shape such as a dipole antenna. The RFID inlay 104 can also use RFID straps in electrical communication with corresponding RFID antennas for attachment of the RFID chip to the antenna. In embodiments, multiple RFID inlays 104 can be disposed within each individual printed fabric label 100. For example, multiple RFID inlays 104 can be used for different applications and each can use a different frequency.
The RFID inlay 104 can include an adhesive layer 106 configured to secure the RFID inlay 104 to the bottom printed fabric layer 108. In certain configurations, the adhesive layer 106 can be configured to secure the RFID inlay 104 to the top printed fabric layer 102, or, additionally or alternatively, multiple adhesive layers can be used as would be understood in the art. The adhesive layer 106 can generally be formed of any known adhesive such as, for example, a pressure-sensitive adhesive (“PSA”), a reactive adhesive, or a hot-melt adhesive. The present invention contemplates that the adhesive layer 106 can be pattern or curtain coated. In one embodiment the adhesive layer 106 is in the shape of the RFID antenna
The adhesive layer 106 can advantageously prevent the RFID inlay 104 from moving once the top layer 102 and the bottom layer 108 are ultrasonically welded together as discussed in greater detail below. Advantageously, ultrasonically welding the layers 102, 108 allows the RFID inlay 104 to remain intact even after multiple laundry washing and drying cycles when the RFID tag is attached to an article of clothing. In certain embodiments, the label 100 which may also be referred throughout as a printed fabric label 100, can be configured to withstand different environments. For example, the strength and properties of the adhesive can be selected based on a desired chemical, thermal, and ultraviolet resistance profile.
Referring now to
In certain embodiments, the RFID inlay 206 can be carried on a substrate and the substrate can similarly function as a water barrier. For example, the substrate can include at least two portions that can be folded together about a centerline and welded together. In this example, the substrate can be configured to protect the RFID inlay 206 during the welding. The weld can be configured to seal the RFID inlay 206, or a separate material such as an epoxy can be placed over the RFID inlay 206 as waterproofing. An example of a suitable material for such substrates is Gore-tex® manufactured by W.L. Gore and Associates (Newark, Del.). As can be appreciated, in other variations, the substrate can include additional fold lines any of which can be folded together and ultrasonically welded.
Advantageously, ultrasonically welding the layers 202, 210 can form a waterproof seal around the RFID inlay that prevents water from reaching the RFID inlay 206. In certain embodiments, some or all of the layers can be welded in a configuration that secures the layers together, but which does not surround the RFID inlay 206. In various embodiments, the weld can be made at any suitable place on the printed fabric label 200 including at the edges, disposed inward a short distance from the edges, or in any desirable pattern or placement on the printed fabric label 200. In one embodiment, the label is welded around at least four edges. The present invention also contemplates that the label is not welded around its total perimeter but rather only select edges. The welds can be continuous or intermittent.
Referring now to
As can be appreciated, the printed fabric layers of
Generally, ultrasonic welds can be made as known in the art. For example, suitable ultrasonic welding machines to form the ultrasonic welds described herein include those described in U.S. Pat. No. 9,902,512 B2 and U.S. Patent App. Pub. No. 2017/0305068 A1 which are each incorporated herein by reference.
The methods described herein are particularly advantageous for volume production and can be made using, for example, a roll-to-roll processing system.
The joined label passes between ultrasonic welders 412 and rotary anvils 410. The ultrasonic welders 412 weld the top printed fabric label layer 402 to the bottom printed fabric label layer 406 to form a seal around one of the RFID chips and antennas of the RFID inlay 404. In embodiments, the ultrasonic weld extends through one or more other layers, for example the RFID inlay 404 and waterproofing layers if present. The weld can be in any suitable shape, for example a substantially rectangular weld. Any suitable number of ultrasonic welders 412 can be utilized. For example, in embodiments a first ultrasonic welder 412 seals the edges of the joined label and a second ultrasonic welder 412 seals the ends of the joined label. Once sealed, the labels exit the ultrasonic welders 412 and rotary anvils 410 as a continuous web 418. An edges slitting roller 414 trims the edges of the continuous web 418 and slit waste 416 is discard. The continuous web 418 of individually sealed labels can be rolled or otherwise suitably packaged for future use. For example, the continuous web 418 can be delivered to a garment manufacturer where individual labels can be cut from the continuous web 418 and attached to garments by the garment manufacturer.
Referring now to
Referring now to
The foregoing description of embodiments and examples has been presented for purposes of description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or limiting to the forms described. Numerous modifications are possible in light of the above teachings. Some of those modifications have been discussed and others will be understood by those skilled in the art. The embodiments were chosen and described for illustration of various embodiments. The scope is, of course, not limited to the examples or embodiments set forth herein, but can be employed in any number of applications and equivalent articles by those of ordinary skill in the art. Rather it is hereby intended the scope be defined by the claims appended hereto.