Creating Transparent Optical Tags

In addition to standard byte and identity tags, you can create transparent optical tags that you can laminate to one side of a clear, adhesive sheet, which allows you to attach the tags to most hand-held objects.

You will likely need to work with an outside company capable of printing transparent tags in accordance with the specifications described in the following sections. Many commercial printing and laminating businesses that work with similar adhesive materials can create the tags.

In general, to create the tags you need to:

  1. Source tag patterns.

  2. Source the required build materials.

  3. Print the tag patterns onto clear film.

  4. Laminate the film onto adhesive sheets.

Tag Printing Resources

To manufacture transparent tag adhesive sheets, you will need:

  • Infrared-reflecting clear film

  • Infrared-absorbing ink

  • Laminate

The following sections provide the specifications for all required materials.

Obtaining Tag Sources

You can download electronic versions of the byte tags here: Microsoft Surface Byte Tags download. You can create electronic versions of identity tags by using the Identity Tag Printing tool, which is included with the Microsoft Surface SDK.

For ordering additional byte and identity tags, visit the Microsoft Surface page on the GM Nameplate Web site.

Obtaining Infrared-Reflecting Film

You should print your transparent tags on a thin, infrared-reflective film that meets the following requirements.


Property Parameter


85% minimum in 450–700 nm wavelength range


R>70% and R<80% for 850 nm wavelength

Transmittance (plane)

x = 0.311 and y = 0.319


1000 mm × 500 mm with 10 mm uncoated area at the borders

Base film

PET (50 μm thickness)




Optically clear pressure-sensitive adhesive (20 μm thickness) with protective liner film


No protective liner film on the coating

The following table defines the number of defects allowed per zone, where a zone is defined as an area of approximately 167 mm × 167 mm.


Defect range Parameter

> 500 μm

Not allowed

200–500 μm

3 defects per zone with a total of 9 within 18 zones

<200 μm


Tigold Corporation creates a film (part number Type 7232) that meets these requirements. (There might be other manufacturers with similar films.) You can contact the Tigold Corporation at:

Tigold Corporation

2500 Hagisono, Chigasaki, Kanagawa, 253-8543, Japan

Phone: (81) 467-89-2198


Obtaining Infrared-Absorbing Ink

You should use infrared-absorbing ink to print the tags because it blocks near-infrared light (750–1100 nm) and transmits a high percentage of light in the visible spectrum (400–750 nm).

Epolin Incorporated creates an infrared-absorbing ink (part number DT2-74A) that you can use to print transparent tags. (There might be other manufacturers with similar inks.) You can contact Epolin Incorporated at:

Epolin Incorporated

358-364 Adams Street

Newark, New Jersey 07105, U.S.

Phone: (1) (973) 465-9495



Laminating the Film onto Adhesive Sheets

After you use the infrared-absorbing ink to print the tags onto the infrared-reflecting film, you need to laminate the tags onto an adhesive sheet so that you can attach the tags to objects. The laminate helps protect the tags from abrasion, humidity, and chemicals, all of which can affect how well Microsoft Surface can read the tags.

After you laminate the film to the adhesive sheet, each tag should have the following characteristics:

  • Final sheets are kiss cut (cut partway through).

  • Excess material will remain and not removed.

  • Final byte tags are 0.75 in. × 0.75 in. ± 0.5%.

  • Final identity tags are 1.25 in. × 1.25 in. ± 0.5%.

FLEXcon creates a laminate (0.1 mm clear polyester, over-laminating adhesive; part number 10092SL) that you can use to laminate the tags. (There might be other manufacturers with similar laminates.) You can contact FLEXcon at:


1 FLEXcon Industrial Park

Spencer, MA 01562-2642, U.S.

Phone: (1) (508) 885-8200


For general information about tags and tagged objects, see Creating Tagged Objects.

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