28.09.2023

TAGTEC consortium develops identity signature system for plastic products together with R-Cycle

Fake products, copied or altered data, recycled materials without identity - to avoid all of this in the future, the TAGTEC consortium, in collaboration with R-Cycle, has developed an identity signature system. Using this groundbreaking market-ready Taggant Technology, it will be possible to uniquely and securely identify data from plastic products as well as the materials used for their production in the future. The combination of TAGTEC with the Digital Product Passportby R-Cycle, based on GS1 standards, is the logical next step towards implementing a "secure future" within the closed plastic loop - addressing both manufacturing and supply chain data, as well as the material cycle.

The TAGTEC consortium, composed of Sensor Instruments, Leuchtstoffwerk Breitungen, and Gabriel-Chemie, has developed an optical method based on luminescent pigments. This method enables the coverage of various aspects of product security, material detection, and even component detection. With this system comprising TAGTEC markers, TAGTEC sensors, and application-specific masterbatch concentrates, it becomes possible to elevate the production of intelligent plastics and the resulting products to a new level.

It is important to note that two fundamentally distinct measurement methods have been developed:

  • The TAU measurement method measures the decay time and intensity of the response signals from the TAGTEC markers, making it particularly suitable for material detection and separation.
  • The STAR measurement method creates a code from the spatial arrangement of marker particles in an observed surface area, similar to a fingerprint, allowing arbitrary amounts of data to be stored in a database for individual products.

Of course, the two methods can also be combined to ensure both material detection and data generation at the component level. When combining with conventional product codes such as a QR code, selecting either of the two methods is sufficient. For the demonstrators discussed subsequently, the TAU measurement method has been chosen.

As previously mentioned, the main focus in the interplay of R-Cycle functionalities combined with TAGTEC capabilities (R-Cycle TAGTEC approach) is directed towards ensuring the authenticity of data linked with a code (e.g., QR code) and the authenticity of material composition, as well as demonstrating the detection of recyclates in real closed loops. The underlying concept is to illustrate that through this R-Cycle TAGTEC approach, various challenges related to future data, product, and material identification can be successfully addressed and integrated on the R-Cycle data platform:

  • Data and material traceability for all technical products regardless of the manufacturing method, and also in combination with existing product codes.
  • Value-added packaging solutions – specifically high-security packaging solutions coupled with secured data.
  • Data security for specialized and certified raw materials, recyclates, masterbatch concentrates, etc., ensuring traceability and traceable identification. 
  • Materials are no longer anonymous but defined within a closed loop through ID and digital product passports!

To present this conceptual approach in a simplified version, three categories of demonstration objects have been collaboratively defined:

  • A technical plastic product (SOLA water level)
  • A security packaging (B&K valve box bag, small)
  • A masterbatch marked with TAGTEC in a neutral bag

The basic functionality is that in the future, a unique product ID is queried by a TAGTEC sensor (defined marker response signal as the key), and upon correctness, "entry into the product database" is granted. The correct key can be variably defined in different ways, further enhancing the security of queries. Component detection is performed using a sensor. Depending on the application and situation (mobile or in production), a wide range of different sensors is available.

The following images depict the defined demonstration objects in the application of the R-Cycle TAGTEC approach. Each image shows the currently separate detection of the marker response signal and the QR code detection using a mobile phone, with a direct link to the R-Cycle product passport database.

The "Water Level" demonstrator was created in collaboration with our partners from WITTMANN and SOLA using TAGTEC marker technology during the K-Show 2022. It will also be produced and presented live on-site during the FAKUMA 2023 event.

The "Valve Box Bag in transparent and white" demonstrator (the transparent version is depicted below) serves as an example of the practical application of the technology in high-security packaging with simultaneous ID-secured data integration:

The "TAGTEC Masterbatch" demonstrator serves as an example for certified and/or specialized raw materials, as well as regrinds and various other materials that can acquire a specific identity through TAGTEC marker technology. The unmistakable ID-generating TAGTEC signal originates directly from the material (filling good) and is combined with the packaging's QR code. The material-specific data can be easily accessed from the R-Cycle product database using a mobile phone.

These and other new TAGTEC application possibilities will be presented by the "Sensor Instruments Gabriel-Chemie Team" together with their partners at FAKUMA 2023 and other upcoming trade shows, as well as through video conferences upon request.

Pictures: TAGTEC / © WITTMANN BATTENFELD

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