Prepress, Press, and Postpress Operations for Security Printing

from Warner, Richard D. and Richard M. Adams II, Introduction to Security Printing. (Pittsburge: PIA/GATF Press, 2005).

Prepress for security printing involves the use of fine-line patterns that are usually continuous-tone rather than bitmapped or half-toned. Colors are generally spot or trademarked colors that are spectrally or colorimetrically matched rather than being process color. The guilloche, a non-repeating spiral pattern, is one of the most effective devices to deter counterfeiting.”

During the pressing process, the printer must not only monitor print attributes such as image tone and color, but must also monitor and maintain the fidelity of printed continuous-tone fine lines. This is because many security printing devices are comprised of fine lines rather than halftone dots and will not work properly unless their line widths, line structure, and line weight (optical solid density) is faithfully maintained when transferred from the printing plate to uncoated paper.”

Tilt images: “tilt images change their appearance (color, brightness, or image content) when viewed at different angles. There are several ways to produce tilt images such as using different engraving depths at right angles to produce intaglio latent images, but for the offset printer using iridesccent inks or lenticular lens techniques may be more practical and feasible.”

For printers to engage in security printing, successfully converting general commercial products into basic SEPs, they must adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Risk management issues regarding the buyer/supplier, personnel, manufacturing, staging, storage and distribution of security end products must be addressed and dealt with and become part of the company’s work ethic and culture.
  2. In addition to using the same quality control devices and methods for producing acceptable halftone reproductions, the security printer must also be concerned with monitoring and producing acceptable continuous fine-line images, as most printing solutions and printing security devices rely on their faithful reproduction.
  3. Most generic commercial printers welcome plant tours, like to engage in “name dropping” especially when it is one of their most prestigious customers for promotional purposes, nad readily hand out samples to new and prospective clients. These types of marketing and sales techniques, which are traditional and expected in the general commercial printing world, are not acceptable in security printing. New and different methods for marketing and sales of SEPs are required and often involve market research into new market areas or partnering with already established security printers.
  4. Security printers must be able to produce security products that can be tracked, traced, and authenticated by themselves and/or their customers, especially in the case of disaster or failure. 
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