90% of the world’s banknotes are Swiss

Just like the special inks produced by SICPA, the sophisticated printing presses and all related solutions are developed in Lausanne by Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions.

The vast majority of banknotes worldwide are created using Swiss technology. Just like the special inks produced by SICPA, the sophisticated printing machines, the famous “coin printing presses”, as well as all related solutions (production of printing plates, design, quality control, etc.), are also developed in Lausanne. by Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions (K&B Banknote Solutions), then made available to central banks and private printers for the production of their banknotes. The house celebrates its 70th anniversary of existence and presence in Lausanne this year.

Making a banknote requires at least four printing processes, eight for the safest denominations. The goal is obviously to make the ticket non-falsifiable or very complicated to reproduce, while being easy to print thanks to these machines.

8 steps and infinitely more

For a banknote like the Swiss franc, eight printing stages mark the production. A first offset printing gives color thanks to the only machine in the world able to work front and back simultaneously (Simultan Offset). This is followed by a screen printing of the desired motifs, then the application of a sheet and a process of micro-perforation, all for greater safety. The fifth step consists in producing the relief of the banknote which is also a security element (Intaglio), the sixth numbers the banknotes while the seventh affixes a varnish. Finally, the last one cuts and packs the completed packages.

But before these processes it is necessary to elaborate the design of the banknote and produce the plates without which the printing machines could not print anything. Furthermore, during or after each processing, the plates are inspected to ensure impeccable quality at the end of the chain.

Safety first

It is obvious that the security of a ticket depends on the elements, visible or not, it contains. From the watermark to the security thread, from the quality of the paper to that of the ink, elements hidden or detectable only from a certain angle, the numerous combined possibilities offer an almost infinite palette of customization of the coin. In collaboration with SICPA, K&B Banknote Solutions has developed a printing process and magnetic inks now widely used all over the world, which allow to fight counterfeiting.

Security also involves software. They allow you to manage the engraving, the origin, that is the design of the banknotes is composed only of lines, and to prepare the files for the production of the printing plates.

Everything is done in Europe

Lausanne is at the heart of K&B Banknote Solutions’ business. The company building houses, among other things, sales, product development and management (product management), banknote design and printing plate production, as well as logistics and marketing. In Germany, the buildings in Würzburg and Bielefeld deal with engineering and services. The assembly of the machines is carried out in Mödling in Austria.

Not all countries in the world have their own machines and some subcontract to private partners.

The living banknote

To the surprise of many and despite the digitization of bank accounts and other Internet transactions, the banknote is making headway around the world. Every year there is an increase in production of 2 to 3%. There are multiple reasons. The banknote offers maximum independence and freedom to its user. 1.6 billion people have no bank accounts around the world. The currency also offers unprecedented security regarding the protection of data collected by digital actors and their sometimes dubious use. Even the banknote does not involve any charge. Worldwide, 75% of person-to-person payments are made in cash.

In addition to the production of machines, the Lausanne-based company is developing new safety applications. One of them allows you to check the validity of a cut using your smartphone in less than a second, another to read a digital message on a ticket from the owner.

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