KBA technology powers banknote innovation

The production of modern, counterfeit-proof banknotes is experiencing a period of revolutionary advances, demanding highly specialised skills and expertise. KBA’s staff in Würzburg and Mödling, the two plants where the relevant equipment is made, collaborate closely with KBA-GIORI to create machinery at the cutting edge of technology and science.

Although KBA-GIORI played host to a stream of representatives from security printing plants, both private and state-run, on the KBA stand at drupa, the four-week Banknote Horizons event that took place concurrently drew more than 1100 distinguished visitors from 69 countries to Le Mont, near Lake Geneva, for an update on the current state of the art in pre-press, press, post-press, security features and quality assurance for a printed product whose popularity has remained unimpaired by the proliferation of credit cards, electronic banking and electronic cash: banknotes.

Visitors witnessed first hand the results of enhanced R&D activity at KBA-GIORI since its acquisition by KBA in 2001. For the first time ever an entire banknote production line, featuring ten main production machines, was erected in the Le Mont demonstration centre. The new production line is based on a completely modular architecture with a high degree of commonality among all the machines, most notably in the feeder, delivery and electronic components. This is in keeping with KBA-GIORI’s philosophy of reducing spare parts requirements and enhancing user flexibility.

A complex specimen banknote inspired by the works of the legendary French author, Jules Verne (1828 – 1905), was created especially for Banknote Horizons by Renato Manfredi, one of the world’s leading banknote designers. It incorporates over 90 security features, including some unusual ones like latent imaging on the back of the note.

From offset printing to finishing, the entire production line demonstrated in Le Mont featured new control systems, on-line process control tools and an integrated security and data management system called FlowSys, which monitored and controlled every sheet printed as it moved through the production process.

The centrepiece of the production line in Le Mont was a Super Simultan IV, the world’s first 10 colour sheet-fed offset press for banknotes, which has a wet and/or waterless capability and was put through its paces using the new Jules Verne specimen to highlight the design and print possibilities the press can offer.

A new screen-printing press, the NotaScreen II, was shown applying two separate optically variable inks (OVI) at speeds in excess of 10,000 sheets per hour.

One of the high points of the demonstration was the launch of a new cylinder system on the OptiNota-H, which supports much faster job changes when applying optically variable devices (OVDs) such as holograms or kinegrams.

A Super Orlof Intaglio fitted with a full set of Computer to Intaglio Plates (CTiP) applied a succession of new and advanced security features including continuous intaglio backgrounds, multi-depth engravings, dual and multi-tone features plus negative and positive microprint.

Checking the quality of the print on both sides of the banknote is a crucial aspect of production, and with the Notacheck III includes AFX (algorithmic flexibility) transillumination to inspect the watermarks and a system based on MRF (machine readable features) to check visible and invisible UV and magnetic inks. Faulty specimens are flagged using inkjet.

NotaProtector, a modified flexographic sheetfed press, applies a protective coating along with additional security features in one perfecting pass, giving banknotes a longer life without impairing their familiar haptic and optical qualities.

One of the areas where KBA-GIORI has made major advances is in banknote personalisation and finishing. The SuperNumerota III demonstrated in Le Mont featured four new numbering technologies. Direct Drive and Smart Skip numbering was used for letterpress printing along with two non-impact marking technologies – NotaMark and JetCode. The NotaMark laser system employs a solid-state laser to burn alphanumeric codes into metallic elements (OVDs or inks) on the banknote, and the JetCode inkjet system prints code or text using an invisible fluorescent ink.

Complementing the SuperNumerota, the NotaNumber III numbered and finished individual banknotes at speeds of 60,000 notes per hour. Faulty banknotes detected by the NotaCheck III were ejected.

Finally, visitors witnessed the global launch of an automated banknote finishing system, CutPak III, which cuts, bands and shrink-wraps the notes with no need for prior collation or human intervention.

Visitors to the pre-press demonstration centre in Sevelin embarked on a voyage of discovery and adventure, in the style of Jules Verne, following the step-by-step creation of the banknote design using ONE, a digital design and assembly system, in conjunction with CTiP. The skill of the master engraver, combined with the most advanced digital technology available, has driven the development of spectacular security elements embedded within a complete and integrated banknote design.

Olivier Beaumont, managing director of KBA-GIORI, affirms: “Our goal was to make Banknote Horizons 2004 the most sensational event our industry has ever seen and to provide all the machinery, information and personnel necessary for our clients to discover the future of banknote printing and our industry in general. We have achieved this, and much more. We have clearly communicated to our clients KBA-GIORI’s ongoing commitment and dedication to them.”

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