New banknotes: design & production

This video from the Reserve Bank of Australia provides insights into the design and production of the new $5 banknote issued in 2016. 

Video source: RBAinfo / YouTube.

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So we started the research and development process for the upgrade with an extensive list of nearly 200 features that we gathered from all sources around the world: industry, research institutes, suppliers to the industry and started with that, and then cut back we can not put 200 features on the note, we don’t want to so we cut it back, to a very short list that we took forward into design. In the design process we have two distinct parts: there is the concept design and the banknotisation design. The concept design is where we look at the artwork, how we want to look more general aspects, that banknotisation design is where we actually integrate all the features into that and get the note to level where it is functional, has security and durability.

So the process starts with the plastic film, which is essentially some polypropylene that we melt, stretch, blow into a big bubble and then squash it back down to get a film. On top of that clear film we apply white coatings on both sides, obviously leaving out the bits where want to have a window, and that produces for us a banknote substrate sheet we can then put into the rest of the printing processes. So on top of that the white layers on the bank note sheet we apply strong colors on both sides of the note, and this is done a very fine detailed print, it gives it the bold vivid colors but it has built-in security in terms of the fine detail and micro-print that goes within that.

So within the top to bottom window which is new on the series for us, we integrate a number of features in there, and particularly stuff that goes in the foil that's transferred across. It is a very complicated process that involves applying transferring that foil across with heat and pressure, somewhat akin to ironing it on, and that transfers those across to the bank note and and you have them in the top to bottom window.

So the next process that we apply the role in color effect against it done partly across the window and across some of the colored areas where we apply a thick layer of a colored ink and then we structure the way the pigments sit within that link to get the color effects that you see from both sides of the note. The way we structure the pigments within that role-in color effect to give the the artwork is we apply a series of magnets on to the ink wallet still wet, and that magnetic field rotates the pigments within the ink, and then we lock it in place with the UV lamp to secure that and then we get the rolling color effect in the design that we were after.

Yes, the intaglio print becomes after that a very traditional process used for many many years all around the world in banknotes, applied on both sides of the note, gives the note texture, gives the note body, something that really helps with the way people authenticate the note.They will often feel the difference of a note with or without intaglio.

On the new $5 note, space was really a constraint, we were after a lot of security, and one of the things that had to go with the second serial number. So we’ve still got one consistent with the same number formats have used in the past so you can still see the year of print that comes out of that, and we've also match that against invisible year of print which you can see when you hold that note under UV lamp.

One of the last printing processes is to apply an overcoat over the whole note, this adds both durability and it helps with the slip characteristics of the note, so how it feels when you're counting it, the way the notes can slide against each other.

One of the final processes then is the tactile feature, the tactile dot. We're not printing anything in this case we're just actually hitting the film with embossing stamp, it actually deforms it and pushes it out and you get the tactile dote then you can feel on the note for the vision impaired.

So in finishing, we take everything up to this stage is banking note sheets then we have to cut it into the individual banknotes and making sure that's done consistently to get the right height the right length and the image in the right position and then it's put through a high speed machine inspection system that does quality checking on all the banknotes.

Once the notes have been through processing they get bundled into bundles of a hundred, and bigger bundles of a thousand, and they all get packed into containers with the sort of automated robotic system so they then those containers have some hundred thousand notes that get sent out to banks. To replace all the notes in circulation we needed to print around a hundred and seventy million of the five dollar note. Normally would not print that many in one year but it’s the volume that we need to replace everything. Coming to the end of the process we’ve got to the stage now where we've incorporated a large number of new security features, some of the most advanced in the world, onto this new design and you know we once lead the world in polymer banknotes our view is with this new design with inbuilt features the way we've designed it together certainly puts us back at the forefront of polymer technology in the world.

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