SICPA Securink may not be a household name, but we’re most likely carrying the Washington, D.C.-based company’s product in our wallets and purses everyday. “Our primary business model is banknote inks [used to print currency], and we have an overwhelming global market share in that field,” explained SICPA Vice President of Sales and Marketing Thomas L. Jay. “We also have a value document inks (VDI) division, which is responsible for the security inks used to print checks, prescription pads, ID cards, passports and visas.”
Interestingly, some of the company’s more sophisticated security ink products—such as the 3-D color-shifting ink with magnetic properties, the ink used to create the rolling color bar and the SPARK product that makes an image highlighted on one side and dark on the other when it’s tilted—are not capable of running offset, which is the printing method used in check manufacturing.
Color shifting inks, for example, contain larger particles of pigment and will not flow easily through offset press rollers, particularly if the printer has them set too tight, causing the inks to back up on the rollers and destroying the effect. Similarly, a water fugitive ink can only be printed in dry offset, and not wet offset, since it will react on the press.
“Many of the new [ink] technologies have not followed into the offset area, but can run flexo,” observed Jay. SICPA’s formulations that are applicable for offset, however, include solvent reactive inks, thermochromatic inks, invisible fluorescents, coin reactive artificial watermark inks and magnetic inks for MICR lines. “We sometimes work with printers who adapt a flexo coater unit to run a flexo-type security ink, but essentially, the offset process is a bit limiting,” he said.
Another issue for check printers, and the marketplace in general, is the fact that larger-scale counterfeiting operations have some of the same equipment the manufacturers use. “We do have ink systems of a very high proprietary nature which the bad guys have yet to figure out, but, lets face it, except for the people doing things on digital scanners and copiers for a one-time-use document, these are not casual counterfeiters out there,” Jay continued.
Related story: Into the Future of Check Security