Securing Your Printing
The security printing market will grow to be a $36.6 billion industry by 2020 according to Smithers Pira. And while most in-plants likely won’t be tasked with printing passports, classified documents or other high-security pieces, there is a definite case to be made for bringing documents such as diplomas, event tickets, coupons or other general-security documents back in house, rather than seeing those dollars go to an outside source.
Many in-plants print bills, transcripts and other documents with personal information on them. Every one of those pieces is valuable, to both the organization and the person receiving it, so it should be protected, says Judy Wu, chief technology officer for Arcis Solutions.
“Any document you print that has a value to the end person holding it should be secure,” she notes. “Without it you’re inviting people to attempt to copy it, whether that is deliberate or casual. For example, a kid going to photocopy the textbook isn’t going to think about ‘maybe I shouldn’t do this.’ But if they photocopy it, and it comes out as ILLEGAL COPY, they will think twice about the second page.”
And while the in-plant might not be producing the textbook, the example can be applied to any type of document an organization produces. Event tickets that have “VOID” stamped across a photocopy, for example, could help deter illegal copying.
Wu offers another example. The owners of a parking lot knew their lot could hold 40,000 cars, but they were only selling 25,000 passes — and yet their lot was always full, she says. When they implemented security features to prevent copying and sharing passes, they were able to better gauge the traffic in their lots and increase their sales of passes according to actual demand. For any in-plant charged with producing parking passes for its parent organization, it is a compelling case study.
A Multi-Prong Approach
It is one thing to realize the value of having security printing options within the in-plant. It is another to know how to go about selecting them. Wu suggests that the best approaches use more than one type of security feature.
“We try to have three to four features on every page, so if any single one fails, another will always work,” she says. “You have to have layers of security — I liken it to securing your house. If you leave the door open, you invite people in to take things. Closing the door is your first layer, but you’re still vulnerable. So you lock the door, and that’s a bit better. Then you install an alarm system. That’s what we do with documents; we ensure there are multiple layers of security.”
With that in mind, here are a few different security printing features in-plants should consider adding to the range of services they offer.
- Watermarks. One of the older forms of security printing, watermarks are often pressed into the paper itself, either before or after the printing process. With modern technology, watermarks can also be achieved using white ink on the page, creating a virtual watermark effect.
- Void Pantographs. This is created using a type of ink that is invisible or nearly invisible to the naked eye on the original document. However, when an attempt is made to scan or photocopy the piece, text or images appear. Often, the term “void” is used, which gives the technique its name, but some companies, such as Arcis, have begun offering the technology on digital platforms, allowing the void pantograph to be as variable as the piece itself.
- Prismatic Coloration. Both offset and digital presses are capable of creating subtle, sophisticated blends of colors that look seamless to the eye when they come off the press. However, most copiers and scanners are less precise, resulting in the piece looking like it has banding or blotching if an attempt is made to reproduce it.
- Halo. For this technique, an image or text is carefully hidden in the background of the document, only visible with the aid of a lens that, when rotated, will reveal the image. In a photocopied version, the halo image would be lost, allowing, for example, someone verifying the authenticity of a coupon to know immediately if it was an original or a reproduced version.
- Fluorescent Dyes or Inks. Any words, patterns or images produced using fluorescent dyes are invisible to the naked eye, but show up under UV lights. This is another security feature that will not show up on a photocopy or scan, allowing it to be easily identified as real or fake.
- Thermochromatic Inks. These inks will either disappear or change color when the temperature changes. Often, they change at around 88 degrees, and are designed to reveal the change when rubbed with fingertips.
These are just a few of the options on the market today, and while most are traditionally done on offset or dedicated security presses, more are being developed for digital presses, opening up security printing to a wider range of in-plants.
It is important to note, Wu says, that no security feature is ever 100% fail-safe.
“Nothing is, not even money,” she notes. “However, if you don’t take the effort of doing anything, you’re inviting things to be done to you.”
Most in-plants aren’t going to require extreme measures to secure every document that leaves the building. However, having the option to offer security printing to in-house departments and customers adds another layer of value to your in-plant’s array of services. It gives the organization one more reason to continue printing in-house, rather than look for a reason to outsource.
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