Applications in high-security printing industry

High-security printing applications refer to the printing of banknotes, postage stamps, cheques, passports, identity cards, seals and any other document where security is a main concern. Naturally, the objective of security printing is to prevent criminals from counterfeiting or tampering with important documents and at the same time improve the aesthetics of those.

Unique documents such as government IDs or currencies require multiple security printing techniques to ensure their security and effectiveness.

There are many different technologies used to protect valuable documents for example special intaglio printing, security threads, holograms, microprinting, and a wide range of security inks! 

As Luminochem focuses on developing high-end security pigments, its products are used in many different high-security printing applications around the world. Obviously, discretion is very important for our clients, so we cannot name the specific currencies that use our products in their security features, but we can say that the pigments used provide an exclusive special-effect for making the notes more easily verifiable and to guarantee anti-counterfeiting security.

 In general, products with exceptional qualities (light fastness, chemical stability etc.) are the most used in high-security printing applications. 

Special effect inks using Luminochem pigments can be incorporated into hidden texts, marks and images and, whilst not visible under normal white light, can be easily verified using ultra-violet light (UV‑A, 365 nm or UV‑C, 254 nm) or a special luminescence detector.

As we can produce pigments of high fluorescent intensity with a very fine particle size Luminochem pigments are suitable for use in offset, flexo, gravure, screen and intaglio printing techniques. The vividness of our proprietary water soluble fluorescent dyes means they are suitable for use in inkjet printing applications at around 1% concentration. We produce three types of NIR absorbing materials: solvent soluble, water soluble and insoluble.

  1. Hidden imprints on labels, packaging or a product surface.
  2. Tamper evident seals and security labels
  3. Product authentication
  4. Special applications

Mineral water brand uses security pigment to avoid counterfeiting

NIR absorbing pigments and dyes LUNIR5

LUNIR5 See product

In Brazil, local authorities have noticed a trend. Some companies sell mineral water without paying taxes. They needed a technology that would allow them to verify the 500ml PET bottles mineral water is typically sold in on the shelves of supermarkets and check if taxes have been paid properly after them. 

A large Brazilian system integrator designed a custom solution. Bottle coding or printing date codes such as ‘expiration date’ and ‘best before’ onto plastic bottles have been a industry parctise to ensure that companies meet the required taste, consistency, and nutritional value of their product upon consumption. The idea was to integrate a security pigment in the ink used for printing the bottles. Besides the ink, the information was encoded in a DataMatrix.Inspectors would be able to verify the authenticity of the ink and decode the content in the DataMatrix using a special camera attached to their cellphones. Since the print contains a NIR pigment, it could only be seen by humans. If looked at the print via a NIR camera the print shows up on the screen, that means it is authentic. If the print does not show up, it means it does not have any security markers in it – it is a counterfeit!

Luminochem developed a unique NIR pigment for the project. Near-infrared” (NIR) is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum directly adjacent to the visible range; therefore it cannot be perceived with the human eye. In cooperation with the ink supplier, we have optimized the security ink so that the overall result met all requirements: the marker should be unique, easily identifiable, but the total cost associated with the solution should be reasonable to justify the investment.

Fast automatic detectability was extremely important as bottling plants produce nearly 30.000 bottles per day. They had to be able to verify if the print contains the marker automatically right on the production line, before products are sent to clients (mostly supermarkets). Figuring out the right quantity of pigment was quite a challenge. Just like stabilizing the pigment in the inks, and making sure they work well in high capacity industrial printers.

Once we have developed the marker optimized for mass production, we had to develop a detector. The request was to create one that can be attached to a smartphone, so there is no need to buy expensive handheld devices. We designed a plug-on NIR camera that can be attached to the smartphone’ camera and provide NIR features.

Smart governments prefer to focus on making sure they collect all existing taxes instead of levying more taxes! Brand protection solutions can be effectively used in such applications.