Topic of your interest

Predictability of the service life of smart cards through further improvement of a practical, cyclical fatigue analysis

Short name: Bending analysis

Fogra no. 81.004
Project leader: A. Müller
Funding: BMWi (IGF) via AiF

Timescale: 01.10.2019 - 30.09.2021

Objective and relevance

Smart cards are often misunderstood in their complexity. As a user, you might think that you are using a simple piece of plastic, but this is not the case. A card consists of up to 16 layers, in which an antenna can also be integrated. Accordingly, determining the mechanical resistance over the lifetime of smart cards is an extremely complex task. The aim of this project is to improve a method for the cyclic bending stress of cards. This measurement technique should make it possible to quantify the resistance of cards using defined parameters.

The project results should assist the industry in improving its manufacturing process and ensuring the resilience of its smart card products in the required service life and under given application conditions.

By contributing the research results to the standardisation work, a qualitative comparison in tenders will also be possible.

Arne Müller

Head of Security Applications

+49 89 431 82 - 271

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Your contact

I would be pleased to answer your questions about the project and look forward to exchanging ideas with you.

Solution steps

A testing device is developed which can expose card test samples to defined bending loads, measure the corresponding recovery forces and vary both bending frequency and bending amplitude. Optical, acoustic and electronic analyses are also possible in this way. The aim of electronic monitoring is to detect impairments (e.g. of the electronic chip function) as early and reliably as possible depending on the number of bending cycles. The temporal force progression is clearly described in terms of a mathematical model with influencing variables from the optical and electronic indicators and, if necessary, other material parameters.

The load analyses are carried out using programmed algorithms. Correlations between the data collected in the progress of the project and conventional indicators are established and evaluated. Since the newly developed test and analysis method will provide much more information than conventional stress tests, it will also be investigated how this information can be used to evaluate the stress resistance of cards and applied in the form of new key parameters.

Targeted results

The conclusions of the research project should lead to an improved predictability of the lifetime of smart cards. Thus, the resilience of chip cards can be evaluated quickly and significant and a reliable test procedure can be made available to the industry, which can be integrated into the production monitoring. It is to be expected that existing devices – slightly modified – can continue to be used for the new test procedure. This should facilitate the industrial implementation after the end of the project.

The results obtained within the framework of this research project and the developed method for determining the lifetime of ID cards and travel documents will be transferred to the international standardisation work of Fogra.