Scientists at Infineon Technologies AG have successfully integrated plastic electronic circuits on commercially-available packaging film, the company said Tuesday.

Such integration was previously possible only with high-quality plastic materials, the Munich chip maker said in a statement.

Similar to the newspaper printing process, the technique developed by Infineon runs packaging film through several coating and surfacing phases at high speed, with the active and most sensitive layer of the thin-film transistor applied not as the first of the individual chip layers to the plastic substrate but as the last layer.

Applications for the integrated plastic chips include flexible RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, which could someday replace barcodes.

Infineon projects demand for more than 500 billion tags annually if every newly-produced item carried one.

The company envisions several ways to market the new technology. Semiconductor companies, for instance, could manufacture plastic chips that retailers and other companies could glue as labels to packaged goods, or supply packaging film with integrated electronic components for further processing.