Friday, 16 January 2015

What is ...Security paper?

Regular followers of this blog will know that in the middle of the month, I publish a "What is ....? post. The article covers various aspects of paper, printing and finishing in greater depth. However, many of these subjects are complex, so these posts are only intended to be a brief introduction to the topic.

What is ...Security Paper?
Security papers incorporate features that can identify or authenticate a document as original as opposed to a copy. One of the earliest and most common forms of security in paper is the watermark but since then, there are many features which have been incorporated in paper to prevent fraud or show if a document has been tampered with such as when amounts are altered on a cheque.

Banknotes are one of the most common use of the very highest type of security papers with all the latest technology added but security papers are commonly used for passports, certificates, government documents, academic and qualification certificates and other uses such as lottery tickets.
Example showing security with combination watermark
The design and manufacture of security papers is a complex and sensitive area, so there is relatively little information that is freely available - otherwise they wouldn't be very secure!

Security papers often incorporate the following characteristics:

Line watermarks - where the watermark is lighter than the surrounding paper
Shadow watermark - where the watermark is darker than the surrounding paper.
Combination watermark - a combination of both light and dark watermarks (as image above)
Combination watermark
Visible coloured fibres can be distributed throughout the sheet which give an immediate, visible form of security. Invisible fibres can also be incorporated. generally these react by fluorescing under ultra violet light.
These are cellulose (paper) dots around 1.25 in diameter which are put into the paper during the paper making process. They can be visible or invisible in daylight and are available in various colours. They can also be micro custom printed, thermocromic (they disappear momentarily if exposed to heat) or can contain reactive agents such as ammonia.

Chemical Reagents
Chemical reagents incorporated in a paper will produce characteristic stains when a solvent is applied. This is ideal for countering forgery for things such as cheques and certificates.

There are also two standard papers which are often described as security papers but which are made to a standard specification (Clearing Bank Standard - CBS) laid down by the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company.
As I mentioned earlier, the design and manufacture of security papers is a very complex and sensitive area, where the manufacturers are always trying to stay one step ahead of the criminal, therefore this is a constantly moving field of expertise..
For further reading, click on the following link:
Posted by Justin Hobson 16.01.2015

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