In a world that seems less safe and less certain by the day, security issues are impossible to overlook. Security goes far beyond the police and military personnel seen patrolling the bridges, tunnels and terminals of major cities. Equally important is the security of documents. Bank notes, checks, passports, lottery tickets and other important documents must be kept safe from fraud and forgery, and that means that features in those documents must be devised to prove authenticity.
According to Ashraf Farag, president of International Ink Company, often times it is the ink that proves to be decisive in preventing fraud. International Ink has spent the past 25 years working to devise ink formulations that can protect the sensitive documents of the world from being compromised. “Mostly we make inks for bank note printing and lottery tickets,” said Dr. Farag. “About 85 percent of our business is in security ink. We sell our inks all over the world.”
According to Dr. Farag, most of International Ink’s business deals are with government agencies and government-appointed printers.
Started in Canada in 1978, International Ink, initially made scratch inks for lottery tickets. The company began doing business in the U.S. in 1995, and in 1997 became a U.S. entity. Since then, the company has been moving into other security areas, making inks for checks, bonds, passports and a variety of other purposes that require security inks. International Ink Company currently produces more than 3,700 different types of inks, including intaglio and flexographic inks, inks for silk screen, rotogravure and letterpress, and producesUV, solventborne and waterborne formulations.
“We use both overt and covert security features,” said Dr. Farag. “There are features you can see with the naked eye and those you can’t without a tool. We also make high security inks that require a special laboratory to determine if it’s the right ink or not.”
The company’s newest ink is a taggant ink that contains forensic evidence to prove authenticity. According to Dr. Farag, small, invisible particles are embedded in the ink that may or may not show a color under a laser. The material can be detected by a hand-held scanner that will emit an audible sound if the ink is present. The ink also has a unique forensic fingerprint that can be detected by special equipment.
Every company that wants to use this ink has their own version of it, said Dr. Farag. “A taggant for a customer belongs only to them,” he said. “Anyone else wanting to use that ink gets one with a completely different forensic print to it, so that it can be identified.”
Because of this, he said, “individual needs drive R&D. We go to each company and try to develop an ink for that customer. We make custom-made security inks specific to each customer. We can cover a lot of bases for customers. We try to meet every need they have need. We have standard inks that we adapt to their needs and will also develop something entirely new for them if need be.”
So much emphasis is put on the individual needs of the customer that International Ink puts a great deal of emphasis on customer service, said Dr. Farag.
“We have a 24-hour hotline available to customers,” he said. There are no sales people, just chemists and press people so we always have people talking to you who know what they are talking about.”
It is this focus on customer service-driven R&D that should keep International Ink Company on the cutting edge of new security ink development in the coming years.