With Innosec Fusion, Bundesdruckerei GmbH (the Federal German Printing Office) has developed a technology that makes it possible to color-personalize high-security cards made of the polycarbonate films Makrofol ID with a photo and signature of the holder, for example.
The color print image is created inside the card and cannot be altered without damaging the laminated film structure.
What makes this process so innovative is the fact that the color print image is created inside the card and cannot be tampered with without destroying the laminated film structure. As a result, cards produced using this process - such as ID cards and passports - are particularly difficult to counterfeit. Until now, it has only been possible to apply black-and-white "print images" to the inside of polycarbonate cards using laser engraving.
Innosec Fusion was developed using raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience AG, starting with the polycarbonate film Makrofol ID and special inks also derived from polycarbonate. "In this development partnership, we have benefited from the fact that Bayer MaterialScience offers customized material solutions and is also able to bring to the table its comprehensive know-how about all stages of the card manufacturing process," explains Dr. Manfred Paeschke, Vice President Innovations at Bundesdruckerei in Berlin.
Innosec Fusion uses a digital printing process that yields particularly high color brilliance. The color motifs are applied to a core film. As the ink is also based on polycarbonate, a strong bond is created between the print image and the surface of the film. The core film is then laminated with overlays without the use of adhesive. The individual layers of film thus form what to all intents and purposes is a single piece of polycarbonate. The layers cannot be separated from one another without destroying the entire card. This in turn means that counterfeiters are unable to access the inner layer where all the information is stored. "As an added bonus, the new technology can also be combined with laser engraving. This adds an extra dimension of protection against counterfeiting," says Cengiz Yesildag, head of Sales for the Europe/Latin America region in the Films Unit of Bayer MaterialScience.
The mechanical and thermal properties of the polycarbonate films used ensure the cards have good resistance to general wear and tear. "In particular, they remain very tough even when exposed to low temperatures, and have excellent stiffness. This means the cards have very good long-term flexural strength and return to their original form even after being repeatedly bent severely out of shape," says Dirk Pophusen, head of Business Development for the Europe/Latin America region in the Films Unit.
Chips and antennae - such as those used for contact-free ID cards - can also be integrated into the film structure and cannot be removed without damage. Due to the use of polycarbonate, the cards display high heat resistance and do not bend or warp when exposed to high temperatures for an extended period. This range of properties means polycarbonate cards generally last for ten or more years.