Types of security ink used by security printing companies UK

Types of security ink used by security printing companies UK

What is Security Ink?

Security ink, also known as anti-counterfeit ink or authentication ink, is a type of ink used to prevent forgery and counterfeiting. These inks are utilised in printing secure documents such as banknotes, passports, certificates, and other items that require authentication.

What is Security Ink Used For?

Security inks are used as an added security measure to protect printed materials from fraud. There are several different types of security ink used, listed below are some of the most commonly used by security printing companies UK. All are highly effective protection against counterfeiting methods.

What Different Types of Security Ink Are There?

There are a whole host of different types of security ink out there which each have their own specific strengths and applications. We’ll go into the most well-known below!

1. Magnetic Ink

What is Magnetic Ink?

Magnetic ink is a specialised type of ink that contains minute magnetic flakes, making it detectable by machines. This ink is predominantly used for numbering and serialisation due to its magnetic properties. The flakes within the ink can be magnetised, allowing for encoded information to be read and processed by magnetic readers.

What is Magnetic Ink used for?

Magnetic ink is most commonly used in the printing of cheques. The account number, bank’s sort code, and cheque number are printed at the bottom of cheque paper using magnetic ink. This is known as Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) technology.

The MICR line at the bottom of a cheque includes critical information such as:

  1. Bank Routing Number: Identifies the financial institution.
  2. Account Number: Identifies the specific account at the bank.
  3. Cheque Number: Uniquely identifies the cheque.

Benefits of Using Magnetic Ink:

  1. Security: Magnetic ink helps prevent cheque fraud by making it difficult to alter the printed information without detection.
  2. Accuracy: The use of magnetic ink ensures that the information can be read accurately by machines, reducing errors in processing.
  3. Speed: Magnetic ink enables faster processing of cheques as machines can quickly and reliably read the information.

Other Applications of Magnetic Ink:

While its primary use is in cheque printing, magnetic ink can also be found in other security and authentication applications, such as:

  • Banknotes: To enhance security features.
  • Passports: For encoding critical information that can be machine-read.
  • Security Documents: Various legal and financial documents that require a high level of authentication.

Magnetic ink remains a vital component in financial security and document authentication, ensuring that sensitive information is processed accurately and securely.

2. Invisible Ink

What is Invisible Ink?

Invisible ink, often referred to as ultraviolet (UV) ink, is a type of security ink that is not visible to the naked eye under normal lighting conditions. It only becomes visible when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, revealing hidden information or markings. This property makes invisible ink a popular choice for security and anti-counterfeiting measures.

What is Invisible Ink used for?

Invisible ink is widely used across various industries for security purposes. Some of its primary applications include:

  1. Cheque Printing: Invisible ink is commonly applied to cheques to include hidden security features. When printing on cheques, it’s crucial to apply the ink to a UV dull substrate, which ensures that the ink will be visible when exposed to UV light. This helps prevent cheque fraud by adding an additional layer of verification.
  2. Currency: Invisible ink is often used on banknotes to add hidden security features that can be checked under UV light, helping to prevent counterfeiting.
  3. Passports and IDs: Governments use invisible ink on passports and identification documents to include hidden security marks that can be verified under UV light.
  4. Tickets and Event Passes: Concert tickets, event passes, and other entry documents often use invisible ink to prevent duplication and ensure authenticity.
  5. Packaging: High-value or sensitive products often have invisible ink markings on their packaging to verify authenticity and prevent tampering or counterfeiting.
  6. Brand Protection: Companies use invisible ink to mark their products, ensuring that they can verify genuine items and combat counterfeiting.

Benefits of Using Invisible Ink:

  1. Added Security: Invisible ink provides an additional layer of security, making it difficult for counterfeiters to detect and then replicate.
  2. Discreet Marking: The ink is invisible under normal light, allowing for discreet security features that do not alter the appearance of the document or product.
  3. Verification: Easy to verify authenticity using UV light, making it a reliable method for checking the legitimacy of items.
  4. Cost-effective: Adding invisible ink security features is relatively inexpensive compared to other advanced security technologies.

Invisible ink, particularly UV fluorescent ink, plays a crucial role in modern security printing, offering a discreet yet effective means of preventing fraud and ensuring the authenticity of important documents and products.

3. Thermochromic Ink

What is Thermochromic Ink?

Thermochromic ink is a type of temperature-sensitive ink that changes colour in response to temperature fluctuations. The ink contains special pigments or dyes that react to changes in temperature, either becoming visible or changing to a different colour. This unique property allows for various practical and novelty applications.

How Thermochromic Ink Works:

Thermochromic inks are typically composed of microcapsules containing thermochromic liquid crystals or leuco dyes. These materials undergo a reversible change in structure or chemical state when exposed to different temperatures, resulting in a visible colour change. The ink can be formulated to respond at specific temperature ranges, making it highly versatile for various uses.

Types of Thermochromic Ink:

  1. Reversible Thermochromic Ink: Changes colour when the temperature changes and reverts to its original colour once the temperature returns to its starting point.
  2. Irreversible Thermochromic Ink: Changes colour permanently when exposed to a certain temperature range, often used for indicating that a product has been exposed to high temperatures.

What is Thermochromic Ink Used For?

Thermochromic ink has a wide range of applications across various industries due to its unique properties. A few of the more popular applications which you may have come across include:

  1. Labels and Packaging: Used on labels and packaging to indicate temperature changes, ensuring that products have been stored correctly. For instance, a label might change colour to show that a refrigerated product has been exposed to room temperature.
  2. Promotional Items: Commonly used on novelty items such as mugs, pens, and toys. For example, a mug might change colour or reveal a hidden image when filled with a hot beverage.
  3. Security Printing: Utilised in security documents, tickets, and currency to add a layer of protection against counterfeiting. The colour change can be a security feature that verifies the document’s authenticity when rubbed or touched.

Benefits of Using Thermochromic Ink:

  1. Visual Appeal: Adds a dynamic and engaging visual element to products, making them more attractive to consumers.
  2. Functionality: Provides practical benefits such as temperature indication, enhancing product safety and usability.
  3. Security: Offers an additional layer of security for documents and products, again making counterfeiting more difficult.
  4. Customization: Can be tailored to respond at specific temperature ranges, making it suitable for a variety of applications.

Thermochromic ink’s ability to change colour in response to temperature changes makes it a versatile and valuable tool in both practical applications and novelty items, providing visual and functional benefits across multiple industries.

4. Optically variable ink

What is Optically Variable Ink (OVI)?

Optically Variable Ink (OVI) is a type of ink that changes colour when viewed from different angles. This unique property is achieved by incorporating minuscule flakes of special film, such as thin-layer interference pigments, into the ink. These flakes create a colour-shifting effect due to the interference of light waves, resulting in a dynamic visual appearance that changes based on the angle of light and the observer’s viewpoint.

How Optically Variable Ink Works:

The colour-shifting effect in OVI is due to the optical properties of the embedded pigments. These pigments are structured in such a way that they reflect light differently depending on the angle of incidence and observation. This effect is similar to that seen in certain natural phenomena, such as the iridescent colours on butterfly wings or peacock feathers, where the microscopic structure causes varying colours to be seen from different perspectives.

What is OVI Used For?

Due to its unique and visually striking properties, Optically Variable Ink is used primarily for security and anti-counterfeiting purposes. Some of the main applications include:

  1. Currency: OVI is commonly used on banknotes to enhance security features. It is typically applied in small areas, such as denomination numbers or security patches, making it difficult for counterfeiters to replicate. When the banknote is tilted, the ink changes colour, providing a quick and easy method for authentication.
  2. Passports and Identification Documents: Governments use OVI in passports, ID cards, and other critical documents to prevent forgery. The ink’s colour-shifting property serves as a security feature that is easy to verify but hard to counterfeit.
  3. High-Value Certificates and Legal Documents: OVI is used on various high-value documents, such as stock certificates, bonds, and important legal papers, to add an additional layer of security and authenticity.
  4. Brand Protection: Companies use OVI on product packaging and labels to protect against counterfeiting. This is particularly common in industries where brand protection is crucial, such as pharmaceuticals, electronics, and luxury goods. The use of OVI helps ensure that consumers can verify the authenticity of products.

Printing Techniques for OVI:

Because Optically Variable Ink is expensive, it is generally used sparingly and applied to small areas. The silk screen printing process is often employed for OVI application due to its ability to handle the thick, viscous nature of the ink and to precisely control the amount and placement of the ink. Silk screen printing also allows for the creation of sharp, high-quality images with the desired optical effects.

Benefits of Using OVI:

  1. Enhanced Security: OVI provides a highly effective anti-counterfeiting measure, making it difficult for counterfeiters to replicate the colour-shifting effect.
  2. Easy Verification: The colour change can be quickly and easily verified by tilting the document or product, making it a practical security feature for both consumers and authorities.
  3. Durability: OVI is durable and resistant to wear, ensuring that the security feature remains intact throughout the lifespan of the document or product.

Optically Variable Ink is a powerful tool in the fight against counterfeiting, providing a visually distinct and easily verifiable security feature that is difficult to replicate, thereby enhancing the security and authenticity of valuable documents and products.

Here at Hague, every year we supply billions of security labels that help protect the products and reputations of our clients in different industries. Our range includes tamper-evident seals, asset management labels, integrated security labels and custom-made label solutions. We use highly secure designs and can include measures such as security inks and holograms.

Enquire now to find out more about our security printing solutions and the measures we can take to protect your products.

Last Updated: 6th June 2024, 12:19