There are many brilliant ideas that light up one particular sector of our lives, reach maturity quickly and then either become stagnant or are superseded by the next brilliant idea. For one idea and the physical representation it created, to remain fresh and relevant for thirty years and to have the potential of being continually further developed and refined for years to come, is something quite rare and remarkable. One of these rare ideas is the KINEGRAM, which changed the look of our banknotes and security documents from being rather dull pieces of paper or plastic to technological marvels, with moving colour changes, realistic rendering and fine details. The KINEGRAM is today one of the most prominent security features both in the banknote and the security document world – and one of the most hated features for any aspiring counterfeiter.
The crucial word here is ‘moving’. The distinguishing characteristic of the KINEGRAM is movement – kinein in Greek means to move – movement of light, colour or shine (reflectiveness) across a given design. The effect is the application of optical science, married to advanced foil technology. It was the work of the development teams at the Swiss company Landis & Gyr in Zug that turned the scientific discovery into a security feature that is “easy to communicate, easy to verify but difficult to copy or imitate”.
The first great awakening of the banknote and security document industries came when in the early eighties the first colour copiers ap-peared. Suddenly anyone could copy a banknote without any effort. Central banks were alarmed. Landis & Gyr reacted to their concerns by developing an optical feature in the form of a silvery patch that could be hotstamped onto the paper substrate. The patch carried a design that showed movement when tilted. As the technology was totally new, Landis & Gyr had to develop not only the product itself, but the equipment to produce the first master and also that to manufacture the feature at an industrial scale. An optical feature of that kind also demands a physical support, a problem that was solved together with the German foil technology company Kurz. Although banknotes were the initiator of this development, it was a passport where the first KINEGRAM – as it became known in 1985 – was applied. In that year, Saudi Arabia was the first country that guaranteed the authenticity of its passport with a KINEGRAM PATCH and thus made history in the security document world.
The first application of the feature on a banknote came a few years later, when Austria’s national bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB), decided to add a note of 5000 Schilling to its lineup of denominations. This new, high value note needed the best protection available and the OeNB suggested using the new optical feature from Landis & Gyr, a company OeNB had already used for banknote testing equipment. As the design of the 5000 Schilling banknote prominently featured a portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mo-zart, it was only logical to have Mozart’s head on the octagonal, fully metallised patch.
In 1999, OVD Kinegram AG was acquired by the German foil technology company, Kurz Group in Fürth. This proved to be a very good fit, as OVD Kinegram and Kurz had cooperated for years in the development of carrier foils for the optical elements. Now the development of the optical features is done in Zug, as is the production of KINEGRAM features for security documents such as passports, ID cards and driving licenses, while the production of KINEGRAM security features for banknotes is carried out in Fürth.
Thirty years ago, most people who needed a visa to travel to another country received a rubber stamp into their passport. However, some countries wanted greater security. The nine member countries of the new Schengen group started to discuss the design of a common Schengen area visa sticker. As the purpose of the Schengen Agreement and later the Schengen Convention was to enable travel without border controls in the Schengen area, the necessary high degree of security was provided by the KINEGRAM PATCH, the Schengen countries agreed on.
The first version was a fully metallised silvery patch showing colour movement in the solid area and in the stars. The next version introduced a totally new idea: selective metallisation. Instead of being a solid area of aluminium deposit, which creates the silvery shine, the metal deposit had been removed in certain areas, leaving a pattern of fine metal lines.
In 1997, the Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, had a serious problem with counterfeit banknotes of the higher denominations. The bank approached Landis & Gyr for a strong, easily recognizable security feature that was exceedingly difficult to replicate. The banknote designer and the Kinegram development team came up with a solution for the 100 Deutsche Mark note that even today is considered one of the masterworks of the genre. It showed the outline form of a lyre – a historic Greek musical instrument – containing a complex number 100 and smaller line drawings of the lyre. Superimposed is half of a larger line drawing of the same lyre, with fine metallised lines, which link-up in perfect register with the continuing printed lines of the other half of the instrument. The solid shape is surrounded by metallised micro printing, repeating the value of the note. The feature was so successful that the DM 50 and DM 200 notes were upgraded with KINEGRAM elements as well.
Protecting an ID document, such as a passport, presents different challenges to protecting a banknote. A KINEGRAM PATCH signifies that the document is genuine, but the personal information and the photograph still remain vulnerable. To protect the whole area of a data page or an ID card, OVD Kinegram created a number of solutions with transparent KINEGRAM elements. The KINEGRAM TKO – Transparent Kinegram Overlay – was first used for ID documents in Bulgaria and it is now one of the most widely used technologies to protect ID documents. TKO is an ultrathin film containing optical-ly variable elements which can be laminated onto cards or passport data pages or sewn-in during passport production, making it suitable for centralized or decentralized issuance. The optically variable elements are fully transparent and can be lines or images, rainbow coloured or matt, changing to and from a variety of colours, or beseemingly threedimensional and can even be transparent replicas of the main portrait photograph. The possibilities for designers are virtually endless.
Embedding KINEGRAM elements into the cardbody of polycarbonate cards or data pages presented another challenge. Such cards are made up from various layers and the thin foil of the KINEGRAM PCI – Plastic Card Inlay – is one of them. The card layers are fused together with the application of pressure and heat and subsequently the cards are personalized by a laser. OVD Kinegram had to develop the technology of making the inlay survive both heat and pressure and enable laser personalisation, all of which presented formidable challenges for OVD Kinegram’s engineers.
Today it is impossible to imagine the document market without polycarbonate substrates. The material has enormous potential and thanks to innovative ideas, it enables ever-higher security standards. The KINEGRAM technology was already married to polycarbonate in the 90s and today, as a polycarbonate pioneer, OVD Kingram is leading the integration of security elements in plastic materials.
In the new millennium, the demand for improved integration of the security foil into the document or banknote design led to the probably most significant innovation in the industry to date. KINEGRAM ZERO.ZERO gives the designer complete freedom in placing the metallised areas of a KINEGRAM security feature. Ultra thin metallised lines or lines brilliantly glowing and solid areas in any shape can be designed without limits and thus offer optimal integration into the document as a whole. The fact that brilliantly coloured lines can be created in absolute register – with zero tolerance – with the metal is an insurmountable hurdle for counterfeiters.
The honour of being the pioneering, first application of KINEGRAM ZERO.ZERO belongs to the 2009 series of the Turkish Lira. However, the Canadian banknote series of 2012 is probably the showpiece of what the technology is capable of. KINEGRAM ZERO.ZERO’s triumph came with a new banknote using an unconventional substrate, polymer, but the feature is seen just as often on passports, ID cards or drivers’ licenses all over the world. And it is not only a technological ‘tour de force’ but, with a good design, an aesthetic pleasure to look at as well.
Thanks to the integration of OVD Kinegram AG into the KURZ Group, the KINEGRAM was able to benefit form continual developments in foil technology, leading to new, innovative security features and intelligent material combinations. Thus, in 2014, the close cooperation between the two companies enabled the Israeli 50 Sheqel note, as the first banknote worldwide, to be secured with the new KINEGRAM VOLUME technology. KINEGRAM VOLUME is a registered, transparent stripe with unique, mono-coloured, diffractive images. Several important banknote projects using the same technology will shortly be introduced.
In the ID document field, one of the latest additions to OVD Kinegram’s arsenal of security solutions for ID applications is KINEGRAM RFID. This is an antenna technology that uses the “metal-on-demand” process to deposit a copper track on both sides of a foil substrate to optimize the antenna inductance, capacitance and electrical resistance. The product offering includes complete passport covers containing the KINEGRAM RFID inlay as well as a hotstamped customized foil design on the cover surface. (Photo of Argentine ePassport cover). Other products include thin polycarbonate inlays for passport datapages and ID cards.
With traffic growing at a tremendous pace worldwide, governments not only have to maintain and build new roads and highways, but control traffic flows, regulate parking, and ensure roadworthiness of vehicles. Industry provides many appropriate tools for this but many solutions consist of or include documents, which can become targets of counterfeiters. At the request of its government customers, KINEGRAM developed a dedicated motor vehicle solution, KINEGRAM MOVE, which provides optimal security. The first country to use the new security solution for showing the roadworthiness of vehicles is Serbia. The KINEGRAM MOVE windshield label is a finished document which the vehicle inspection authorities personalise and affix behind the windshield, showing evidence to the police that the vehicle is in a fit state.
The journey of the KINEGRAM and of the company that created it, from the first silvery patch on a Saudi Arabian passport to today’s technological pinnacle on the new Israeli Sheqel, has been remarkable. But the journey is far from over. The KINEGRAM technology and the development team behind the technology are ready to bring many further surprises, for the benefit of the security and the looks of banknote and ID and travel documents.