Nano Brick Co., a small- and mid-size enterprise in South Korea involved in nanotechnology, is drawing the attention of many global firms with its simple but innovative technology that identifies counterfeited goods with a thin sticker called M-Tag. The new technology is an outcome of eight years of intensive research and development.
According to Nano Brick, the company has started to supply M-Tags, a security solution that help sort out counterfeited goods, to local and foreign companies this year including Shandong Jingzhi Liquor Co., the producer of China’s well-known Jing Yang Chun liquor, SAEC Co., Japan’s electronic components manufacturer, as well as Jayjun Cosmetic and The Oozoo, Korea’s two leading mask pack manufacturers. Nano Brick has also begun the supply of M-Tags to the licensing company of Walt Disney in Southeast Asia. The company received orders of the thin, squared shaped sticker (1.5x1.5cm) after going through a long period of evaluation.
The development and supply of the new technology comes at a time when an increasing number of manufacturers and consumers have become victims to forged items due to active online trade and open information environment. Fake products circulate in both online and offline market spaces, threatening consumers wishing to buy genuine cosmetics, groceries, alcohol, clothes, medicine, electronic devices and luxury goods. In a bid to block counterfeiters, there has been the development of many anti-counterfeiting solutions using holograms, fluorescent ink, quick response (QR) code and radio frequency identification (RFID). These solutions have been proved effective in the past but with improved counterfeiting techniques based on the advancement of technology, there have been calls for the need to develop a more precise and innovative technology that easily distinguish forged products from genuine ones, like the M-Tag.
According to Nano Brick, the M-Tag is the world’s first anti-counterfeiting solution that applies nanoparticle manufacturing technology that changes colors and patterns through magnetic field. For example, when a consumer places a rubber magnet commonly found on a refrigerator or a magnet attached to the speaker of a mobile device near the M-Tag, stripes appear on the surface of the sticker, which is a phenomenon that appears when spread nanoparticles line up like a brick. The change in the color and pattern of the M-Tag shows consumers with a naked eye to check whether or not a product is an imitation or authentic.
Nano Brick’s M-Tag is gaining spotlight among manufacturers that worry about their products being copied and sold in the market. A sheet of M-Tag does not cost manufacturers a fortune as the unit price is estimated to be only dozens of won. Also, with the current technology, M-Tags cannot be counterfeited by others yet, according to the company. The theory of applying color tunable materials on the external magnetic field was introduced 30 years ago, but Nano Brick is the first and only company in the world to commercialize the theory into a new material source.
In recent years, Nano Brick has been recognized for its innovative developments. In 2012, the company received Grand Prize in information technology and electronics at Tokyo-Nanotech, the world’s largest nanotechnology exhibition, in Japan. It was also awarded a Prime Minister’s Prize at Nano Korea 2012 based on the creative achievements and impact in the industry. Currently, Nano Brick has applied for about 160 patents and 30 trademarks, allowing it to hold exclusive rights to its technology and products.
M-Tags are produced at Nano Brick’s Pyeongtaek facility in Gyeonggi after going through 100 different procedures to process new ink-type nanoparticles that contain iron elements to film-type ones. Nano Brick also prints the clients’ specific brand or product name on the final M-Tag sheet.
Joo Jae-hyun, chief executive of Nano Brick, said that a considerable amount of time and investment will be required to develop a technology that counterfeits the M-Tag, which means that for a while, the company will be able to prevent any attempts by others to produce similar products. Joo added that the fundamental technology required to produce the M-Tag is similar to how the skin color of chameleons change by nature.