NFC in Print

Near Field Communication was created in 2002 by Sony and a company called NXP Semiconductors.  NFC is a close cousin (but a different animal) to RFID, a technology that was created in 1983.

Company Stationary – Direct Mail – Point of Sale – Advertising – Promotional items

What is NFC?

Near Field Communication is a wireless technology – a tiny microchip with a tiny coiled aerial that can store and transmit a tiny bit of data to NFC enabled smart devices.  They are used as a method of wireless data transfer that enable smart devices to automatically receive data. Phones need to be within 5cm / 2 inches range to engage.  NFC tags are battery free, getting their power from the host NFC device (such as a mobile phone).

You probably know that NFC has always worked really efficiently with Android phones. Just tap, and away you go (as long as the phones NFC is switched on).
But did you know that NFC tags now work with iPhones too. As of 2018, Apple announced that iPhones will also be able to scan third party NFC tags too, not just for proprietary Apple Pay.

Older model iPhones need an app to scan the NFC tag, but they latest iPhones you can just tap away. No need for an app.

NFC for creative Marketing Communications

Now that NFC is cross platform (works with Android and iPhone) it is a great solution for marketeers, brands and companies to get their audience from a piece of print or a physical item, straight to your online space quickly and easily. Just a simple ‘Tap’.

NFC applications:

  • Office Stationary
  • Direct Mail
  • Hand outs and Give aways
  • Point of Sale
  • Advertising locations


NFC tags can be fused into:


  • Compliment slips
  • Business cards
  • Letters
  • Envelopes


Marketing Materials:

  • Drink coasters
  • Stickers
  • Post cards
  • Inserts
  • Brochures
  • Magazines
  • Flyers


Advertising locations:

  • Point of Sale units
  • Billboards
  • Bus Stops
  • Tube Stations
  • Public Toilets
  • Menu’s


Promotional Items:

  • Wristbands
  • Key-fobs
  • Fridge magnets

How Does NFC Work?

An NFC tag is tiny controller chip semiconductor. It is not much bigger than the full stop at the end of this sentence. It has a tiny wire antenna attached so it is able to send its data wirelessly. The instruction to do what it does is pre-programmed and stored on this tiny little IC (Integrated Circuit) chip. There are no batteries powering this tiny little smart technology. Instead it receives its power just by being in close proximity to the Smartphone.

NFC tags are passive devices, which means that they operate without a power supply of their own and are reliant on an active device to come into range before they are activated. The trade-off here is that these devices can’t really do any processing of their own, instead they are simply used to transfer information.

In order to power these NFC tags, electromagnetic induction is used to create a current in the passive device. Coils of wire can be used to produce electromagnetic waves, which can then be picked up and turned back into current by another coil of wire. This is very similar to the techniques used for wireless charging technologies, albeit much less powerful.

The active device (such as your smartphone), is responsible for generating the magnetic field. This is done with a simple coil of wire, which produces magnetic fields perpendicular to the flow of the alternating current in the wire. The strength of the magnetic field can be adjusted by varying the number of turns in the wire coil, or increasing the current flowing through the wire. However, more current obviously requires more energy, and very high power requirements would not be desirable for use in battery powered mobile technologies. Hence why NFC operates over just a few inches, rather than the many meters that we’re used to with other types of wireless communication.

Different NFC chips have different memory configurations and also memory sizes. This limits how much information can be held on different chips but it also affects how the chip can be locked and other very important factors.

We use NXP Semiconductor chips for our NFC products as this is the market leading company.

NFC tags can be fused into a range of different branded / printed formats:

We can encode the NFC Tags to automatically carry out actions such as:

  • Launch a Web-page / online videos / App
  • Connect to Social Media
  • Deliver a Business card (with all your contact info) and web-links.
  • Create a text message or email ready to send
  • Connect to WiFi or Bluetooth device 
  • Send Geo Location
  • Execute a phone call
  • Create a vCalendar entry

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