Instant authentication is the trump card

Banknotes are miniature works of art. The attractive design of the security features draws the observer's attention to them, encouraging users to check the authenticity of the note in an intuitive way. The same applies to security threads, though of course these offer literally little room for design.

Window threads must therefore be especially eye-catching in order to attract attention. Striking colors or color shifts and surprising effects are critical here since a distinctive appearance or optically variable shift helps the security feature stay in the memory. A successful security feature is therefore one that allows simple and rapid banknote authentication.

In developing ColourShift, Louisenthal has produced a security thread that combines attractive design with distinctiveness, individuality and counterfeit protection. In recent years, demand for optically variable security threads has increased exponentially around the world and Louisenthal has since incorporated this security feature into the currencies of 20 countries and more than 40 denominations.

Instant Authenticity Check

The thread embedded in the banknote features high color brilliance and a pronounced color shift that appears when the note is tilted in different directions: an essential part of the authenticity check. Louisenthal offers a total of six different color shifts. This means that the security thread can be integrated perfectly into the design of the banknote, in accordance with its color scheme. Alternatively, a strong contrast between the color of the thread and the color of the banknote is also possible. Both concepts are ideal when an existing banknote series is to be upgraded since the notes retain their existing appearance but have an additional security component that makes them more difficult to counterfeit. The threads are individualized with transparent demetallization technology creating Cleartext, enabling for example the banknote value, the initials of the central bank or other characters such as the national coat of arms to be incorporated.

Threads with integrated color reference

ColourShift/ColourFix threads are a further development of the ColourShift thread concept. A unique feature of the thread is that its surface is divided into two parts: the ColourShift area shows a clear color shift when tilted but the adjacent ColourFix area does not change color. The viewer sees a comparison color, with the color shift making verification that much easier.

ColourShift/ColourFix at a glance

  • Rapid authenticity check through built-in color reference

  • Brilliant colors, additional design options

  • Precise, unequivocal color shift when tilted

  • Clearly visible, transparent demetallization

  • Scalable security

Functionality and Technology

High-tech combined with brilliance

To create the optically variable effect of the threads, special technical processes are required. Together with many years of experience and specially trained personnel, these processes are the prerequisites for manufacturing this proven, counterfeit-resistant feature.

ColourShift thin film technology requires the precise deposition of metallic and non-metallic layers in structured order. They form a structure which leads to an interference effect of the visible light, resulting in an angle-dependent color variation of the reflected light. It is crucial to control the depth of the layers precisely in order to achieve a defined and significant color change. The measures are in nanometres, requiring specialized equipment and application, making it an extremely difficult technology to counterfeit. This formula leads to more brilliant and dynamic colour change compared to liquid crystal, and provides a far greater degree of color options than liquid crystal applications.

Scalable security

An additional anti-counterfeit measure for the threads is the individual combination of hidden security features which can be adapted to suit customer requirements. These security features include machine-readable attributes ranging from the magnetic coding of simple YES / NO recognition through to complex codes (MultiCode™), which may contain information on the value of the banknote. Elements can also be integrated that are visible under UV or polarized light.

Attributes of a ColourShift thread:

  • Brilliant colors, multiple color options

  • Precise, unequivocal color shift when tilted

  • Clearly visible, transparent demetallization

  • Scalable security

Interview with Dr. Wolfram Seidemann

Dr. Wolfram Seidemann, CEO Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology, reveals more about both the history and the future development of the ColourShift threads.

What brought about the development of the security threads?

Foils were first incorporated into banknotes back in the 1990s, in response to the increasing use of color copiers. They provided effective protection against coarse attempts to reproduce them. Due to their distinctive appearance which allowed a straightforward authenticity check, embedded windowed security threads proved to be very effective with the public. They have been a major obstacle to counterfeiters ever since. As the manufacturing process involves extremely complex technology, the prospect of counterfeiting these optically variable threads is a great deal less attractive. Indeed they cannot be reproduced using photocopiers or scanners.

What new developments have arisen at G+D Currency Technology in recent years?

It stands to reason that we must always be one step ahead of the counterfeiter and therefore we must continue to develop and improve our security features on an ongoing basis. Since 1999 we have been manufacturing our own foil elements at G+D Currency Technology and an important milestone came in 2000 with our own origination. The latest product in the family is the " RollingStar® " thread which combines dynamism with color shift.

We must stay one step ahead

Dr. Wolfram Seidemann, CEO G+D Currency Technology

What is the significance of ColourShift threads compared to other security features?

Security threads are completely integrated into the paper and are therefore very much at the top of the hierarchy of different security features. Demand for ColourShift threads is strong and we are now equipping the currencies of no fewer than 20 countries and more than 40 denominations with this security feature. To continue to meet this strong demand in future, we have already increased our capacities.

Where is development heading in the next few years?

The future trend will continue towards dynamic effects. RollingStar® is the first time we have combined the ColourShift thread with micro-mirrors and achieved completely new effects. These have since been established under the name "Dynamic ColourShift Reflection." The possibilities offered by RollingStar® are however far from exhausted and we are already working on new intuitive and counter-intuitive designs and further variations of dynamic color change.


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Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology GmbH

+49 89 4119-0

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