Xerox has introduced a new printing security technology that substantially reduces the costs normally associated with printing secure documents.
It uses standard dry inks on standard paper, prints variable text and can only be read under infrared light. The text becomes illegible under infrared light if it's copied or altered.
"This technology means that companies no longer need to reserve document printing security for only high-value documents and print them in lengthy runs," says Rob Abraham, MD of Bytes Document Solutions.
"Because of the standard papers and inks it uses companies can print authentic tickets, coupons, certificates, licences, identification papers and other-high value documents on demand."
The new technology is called InfraredMark Specialty Imaging Font, and it slots into Xerox's existing specialty imaging effects such as MicroText and Glossmark, which also provide cost-effective document security.
Raja Bala, a principal scientist in the Xerox research centre, Webster, and a co-inventor of the process, says protecting sensitive documents from unauthorised duplication or alteration is an ongoing challenge.
Traditional security printing is costly and reserved for documents of very high value, such as passports, or for documents with very long run lengths, such as currency. However, digital printing and specialty imaging effects make security printing easy and affordable for run lengths of one to many.
The new technology takes advantage of the way Xerox's xerographic colour systems work. Every colour is made by mixing four different colour toners: cyan, magenta, yellow and black, known by the initials CMYK.
"There are multiple ways to mix these toners to create a single colour, like teal blue. But since each of the individual toner colours reacts differently to infrared light, some combinations are detectable under infrared light and others are not," says Bala. "Xerox uses that effect to create infrared text that is invisible to the human eye, but visible to an infrared camera.
"Another way to describe the process, is that we can develop a pair of cyan, magenta, yellow and black toner mixtures, one with very little infrared absorption and the other with a lot of infrared absorption. They appear very similar to the eye under normal light, but very different under IR light. If one CMYK mixture is used as
the background, and the other mixture as the text, then the result is a text message that is invisible or at least illegible under normal light, and easily detectable under IR light."
Xerox has incorporated the new technology into its FreeFlow Variable Information Suite 6.0, which was announced in September. The software streamlines the customised document production process, and its specialty fonts can be used to help thwart counterfeiting. With variable printing, these security features can be personalised for each document, making it easier to authenticate and reducing the incentive for forgery.