Like every technology solution, you have many choices for hardware. With radio frequency identification (RFID), you’ll need a printer that’s specifically engineered to imprint data on RFID tags, as well as an RFID reader to capture the data (similar to a barcode scanner that reads a barcode label). To zero in on the right choice for you, Avalon Integration wants you to know what to look for in an RFID printer and reader. In our last article, we explained the difference between active and passive RFID tags. Once you’ve made the choice of tags, you need to decide on the RFID printer and reader.

Choose an RFID Printer

ZT410 RFID Printer printing a barcode in a Warehouse

Are you producing a high volume of RFID tags on a daily basis? If so, you need a printer that doesn’t slow you down. Make sure the print speed meets your needs. 

Look for an RFID printer that is compatible with the type of RFID tags you’re producing, like UHF EPC Gen2 or Silverline. Silverline labels are engineered for use on metal surfaces and liquid-filled containers, two materials that can be challenging for RFID, so if you’re labeling these types of products, you must choose an RFID printer that can produce these labels, like the Zebra ZT410 RFID printer customized for Silverline. If mobility is key to working efficiently, you also have the option of a mobile RFID printer. Zebra has developed the ZQ520 RFID printer, a rugged yet compact mobile printer with a military-grade design. With UHF RFID printing and encoding, the ZQ520 can produce RFID labels on-demand, anywhere—ideal for labeling products, cases, and pallets on the go.

Get the right RFID Reader

Worker Scanning Warehouse Barcode Label using an RFID Reader

The RFID reader tunes into the radio frequency—low frequency, high frequency, and ultra-high frequency (UHF)—and grabs the data encoded on an RFID tag within its read zone. RFID readers are available in handheld and fixed styles. A handheld reader allows for mobility, so it’s good for anything from cycle counts to shipping and receiving. Another option is an RFID sled,  which attaches to a mobile device and adds the RFID reader function, an economical way to incorporate RFID for tasks like inventory. A fixed reader is mounted to a wall, pole, or other surfaces. It reads RFID tags that pass within its range. Fixed readers are commonly used in environments that track high volumes of RFID tags, such as warehouses, distribution centers, and yards.

Pick the right RFID Partner

Warehouse Worker using an RFID Reader to Scan a Box Label on a Conveyor Belt

Avalon Integration can guide you to the total RFID solution that fits your business processes and applications. You can count on our experienced, knowledgeable professionals to understand the way you work and identify the factors that lead to making the best choices. Contact us to get more performance and ROI from your RFID technology.

Radiofrequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic technology to transmit information from an encoded tag to an antenna and then an RFID reader. With RFID, you don’t need a line of sight to read a barcode, so this technology presents a valuable asset tracking solution. But once you choose this automated data collection method, you need to decide between the options of passive and active RFID tags. Which tagging do you need? Here’s some insight to help you pick the right RFID tags for your applications.

RFID Tag Differences

Active and Passive Tag Differences

Active RFID tags have an internal battery that “pushes” the signal to an antenna within its read zone.

Passive RFID tags have no battery or internal power source. They are activated by the electromagnetic energy that is transmitted from a reader to an antenna, which signals the passive tag.

Here are the factors you should consider when deciding between passive or active.

Radiofrequency and the read zone

RFID - Radio Frequency and Read Zone

Active tags transmit across a longer read range than a passive tag, which is designed for short-range reading. An active tag could be read from hundreds of feet away, while a passive tag might only send a signal across a distance of 20 to 30 feet.

The frequency band contributes to the read range, with ultra-high-frequency (UHF) providing the longest distance. A lower frequency—defined as low frequency (LF) and high frequency (HF), in comparison—transmits more slowly but is also less susceptible to radio wave interference, which can be caused by metals and liquids.


RFID - Lifespan

The battery embedded in an active tag has a lifespan. Depending on how often the tag transmits data, the battery can last five to ten years. Passive tags have no battery, so there is no such shelf life to the tag.


Active RFID tags are more expensive than passive tags, because of the battery inactive tags.


RFID - Uses

Passive tags are commonly used for tracking livestock, materials, and products along with a supply chain. Inbound and outbound shipments can use passive RFID because of the short-range requirement for reading the barcodes.

Active tags are a good choice for access control, equipment monitoring (e.g., status), and logistics. The longer read range is also a preferable option for hospitals and industries that need to track costly equipment throughout the facility.

To make sure you’re getting the best value from your thermal printing supplies, schedule a free assessment with Avalon Integration. We can determine opportunities for improved productivity, efficiency, and cost savings.

Avalon Integration has been working with RFID technology for many years and across a wide range of industries and use cases. As a Zebra partner, Avalon Integration has a powerful resource for the most innovative RFID technology. Talk to us to determine the right RFID solution for your needs.