Government agencies, business and personal use of security printing options are growing, the need to keep certain documentation safe is increasing, as well as the security techniques are improving in quality and style. The added security offered by security printing gives comfort and reassurance to the Government agency, businesses or individual that their documents are safe and secure from reproduction, prevent forgery, tampering, or counterfeiting.
Common Security Printing Techniques
There are various printing techniques including specialty paper, watermarks, intaglio printing, color changing inks, holograms, security threads, magnetic ink, serial number, and anti-copy marks that are used in security printing. Each of these techniques offer government agencies, businesses, and individuals peace of mind in the knowledge that their documents are safe from reproduction, prevent forgery, tampering, or counterfeiting.
- Specialty paper is often a heavy paper made from cotton fibres that gives it added strength and durability. Linen or specialty coloured or forensic fibres are often added to the paper for individuality and protect against counterfeiting. Specialty papers such as this are often used in bank notes (the most common item requiring security printing).
- Watermarks are recognizable images or patterns incorporated into the paper. When a water coated metal stamp or dandy roll is impressed onto the paper during manufacturing the watermark is made.The paper density variations make the watermarks appear to be lighter or darker than the surrounding paper when viewed with a light from behind.
- Intaglio printing incises an image into the surface by using a copper or zinc plate. The image is initially etched or engraved into the plate, the surface is then covered in ink and rubbed vigorously with a tarlatan cloth or newspaper to remove any ink from the surface but leaving ink within the incisions. A damp paper is then placed on top of the plate and run through a printing press that transfers the ink to the paper through pressure. The images created through the intaglio process are very sharp, only visible when the document is viewed at a very shallow angle and difficult to imitate.
- Color changing inks containing pearlescent pigments that change color when viewed at a different angle. The color of the ink itself does not actually change, but the angle of the light changes the way the eye sees the color.
- Holograms can be embedded through a hot-stamping foil, through a thin layer the hologram is bonded into the paper or a plastic by sized coat, which is a hot-melt adhesive, or it can even be directly embossed as holographic paper or laminate card.
- Security threads are often embedded into security paper for banknotes or passports. There are two tpyes of security threads:
- Aluminum coated and partly demetalized polyester film thread with microprinting.
- Single or multicolor sewing thread made from cotton or synthetic fibers.
- Magnetic ink is used by many banks for checks because it can be read quickly by computer systems and reduces errors in automated reading.
- Serial numbers make legitimate documents easier to track and audit, however they are not very difficult to forge.
- Anti-copy marks
locks out the reproduction of any material. When paper with anti-copy marks is copied images such as “VOID” will appear.
Items Used in Security Printing Techniques
Typically security printing is used in items such as banknotes, passports, tamper-evident labels, product authentication, stock certificates, postage stamps, identity cards, transcripts, coupons and prescription pads . Each of these items require this added security to keep them safe.
Who Uses Security Printing?
High security documents are required by Government and Corporations to prevent tampering, alteration and to allow for easy recognition of the genuine item. Common items requiring this added security by the government and corporations include: tax documents, financial documents, government bonds, examination / company certificates, fiscal stamps and ballot papers for local and national elections.
Banks and other financial institutions require certain security printing techniques for items such as checks, financial documents and bank notes. Most commonly used item requiring security printing is bank notes. Produced by using a mix of intaglio printing, offset printing, screen printing and letterpress. Bank notes are printed security inks that range from simple colored inks to overt inks like Optically Variable Inks and covert inks. The covert inks include phosphor taggants, magnetic and similar invisible markers that are used by governments and banks to authenticate these bank notes.
Security Printing is also used in various ways for businesses throughout the nation looking to put added security on documents, identification cards and so on. Using security printing offers businesses the security they need to know that their business documents are safe from reproduction, prevent forgery, tampering, or counterfeiting.