Security Printing


SDI’s SpectraSure™ technology has a vast array of applications. Embed SpectraSure™ right into the ink, paper, plastic to create an impossible to coutnerfeit security paper solution. Authentication can be performed immediately wherever authenticity is questioned. With SpectraSure™, you can feel confident knowing your product is impossible to counterfeit.

The Problem


Counterfeiting of money is one of the oldest crimes in history. It was a serious problem during the 19th century when banks issued their own U.S. currency. At the time of the Civil War, it was estimated that one-third of all currency in circulation was counterfeit.

Currency Printing At that time, there were approximately 1,600 state banks designing and printing their own notes. Each note carried a different design, making it difficult to distinguish the 4,000 varieties of counterfeits from the 7,000 varieties of genuine notes.

It was anticipated that the adoption of a national currency in 1863 would solve the counterfeiting problem. However, the national currency was soon counterfeited so extensively it became necessary for the government to take enforcement measures. On July 5, 1865, the United States Secret Service was established to suppress counterfeiting.

Although counterfeiting has been substantially curtailed since the creation of the Secret Service, this crime continues to represent a potential danger to the nation's economy and its citizens. Production methods used in counterfeiting operations have evolved over the years from the traditional method of offset printing to color copiers and, more recently, to scanners, computers and inkjet printers.

The Secret Service has noted that many of today's counterfeiters have moved from the traditional method of offset printing, which has its own set of required skills, to computer-generated counterfeiting. Today's counterfeiter is able to produce counterfeit currency with basic computer training and skills afforded by trial and error, and public education. Counterfeit passing statistics are likely to increase because of several factors: these instruments of production are more readily available, the capabilities of these machines continue to improve and the techniques are more readily understood by an increasingly larger segment of the population, including those with criminal intent.

The United States Secret Service remains committed to zero tolerance and is determined to investigate each and every counterfeiting case. Each counterfeiting case, no matter how large or small, carries the serious consequences of incarceration and/or fines.


The Solution


On occasion, the banknote designers succumb to the Titanic effect, of believing too much in the latest technology, and place too much faith in some particular trick. An example comes from the forgery of British banknotes in the 1990s. These notes have a window thread—a metal strip through the paper about 1 mm wide that comes to the paper surface every 8 mm. When you look at the note in reflected light, it appears to have a dotted metallic line running across it, but when you hold it up and view it through transmitted light, the metal strip is dark and solid. Duplicating this was thought to be hard, but a criminal gang came up with a beautiful hack. They used acheap hot-stamping process to lay down a metal strip on the surface of the paper, and then printed a pattern of solid bars over it using white ink to leave the expected metal pattern visible. At their trial, they were found to have forged tens of millions of pounds’ worth of notes over a period of several years.


SpectraSure™ is a non-organic taggant, unique in that, even whilst using sophisticated mass-spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, counterfeiters cannot discern and duplicate the mark. Unlike many other taggants, SpectraSure™ can be incorporated into the component, applied to the component (and its packaging) and can be authenticated in real time, on-site, and on-demand. There is no need for long lead-time and costly laboratory analysis. The SpectraSure™ readers authenticate the mark in milliseconds.

The SpectraSure™ taggant does not decay over time, can be encoded for specific and targeted tracking activities, and can withstand environmental extremes far in excess of the item marked.

Currency PrintingImplementation

As central governments continue to combat the economy killing problem of counterfeiting, the proliferation of the methods and techniques in use (i.e. watermarks, geometric lathe work, micro printing, security threads) has led to an increasingly complex production process, leading to the Titanic effect, as mentioned previously. However, the SpectraSure™ system provides a relatively elegant solution in that integration can be introduced into:



  • The manufacturing process by directly incorporating the SpectraSure™ taggant into the product, marking, logo, or other marks;
  • The supply chain anywhere products are inspected and tested, including
    distributors and authorized sources;

    Integration of SpectraSure™ is performed without disruption or down-time to manufacturers or distributors.


    Whether you require complete operation and maintenance of your SpectraSure™ system, supply of SpectraSure™ taggant and readers, or a tailored approach, the SDI team can help. For more information and to initiate the SpectraSure™ process, contact us directly using any of our convenient methods.