Get Increased Label Security With These Methods

A hallmark of consumer fraud is counterfeiting, a practice which costs the UK well over a billion pounds per year. Increased label security is assisting to curb the many negative effects of product counterfeiting and protect businesses and their brands.

What can be counterfeited?

Criminals attempt to pass off fake products as genuine in many ways, and by focusing on more than one aspect of a product. They may use the actual original product package and fill it with fraudulent goods. They may also take expired goods and re-package them in their own false packaging. Counterfeiting can also extend to the production of false documents of ownership. Indeed, these individuals have carefully constructed their own businesses.

Ending the practice of counterfeiting begins with not underestimating the criminals. They will not be stopped by light efforts and easily-duplicated technology; the only way to thwart them is to seek the advice of professionals and find the right measures to incorporate into your security labels.

Intricate Designs

One popular security feature in the printing world is the Guilloche, a complex and intricate mathematical design. Much like the Spirograph toys of old, the Guilloche is a shape developed when a circle’s fixed point is rolled inside a larger circle.

Although this is used extensively on many types of currency, the Guilloche is now a very popular means of securing products, as it is very difficult to copy without the exact formula used for the image. The formula itself has many changeable parts, meaning that potentially millions of patterns can be created.

Micro Text

Micro text is printed in such a small size that it is not visible unless magnified. However, even then, individual characters can contain their own variations, which make replication impossible. This security measure is often integrated into labels in areas that are either unnoticeable or inconspicuous.

In situations where micro text is comprised of individual words or sentences, intentional misspellings can offer an added layer of security. This tactic works because of the high degree of difficulty involved in replication; in order to achieve a perfect copy, the original artwork files must be available to the counterfeiter. To a scanner, micro text will appear as a solid or dotted line without exceptionally high resolution. The same is true of any printer used to duplicate this text.

Variable Data Printing (VDP)

This technology involves changing the images, text and other elements on labels each time they are printed. This is done by accessing information stored on an external file or in a database, and is efficient, as it doesn’t require the printing process to slow down or stop.

The interesting thing about variable data printing is that even the most unassuming piece of a label can contain modifications that may not be visible to the naked eye. And these modifications can be so random as to make the next change virtually unpredictable.

Protective Inks

Security can also be worked directly into inks and toners, and there are several different types of these as well. One or more chemical or physical markers can be added to ink or the substrate onto which information will be printed. This allows for more than one level of verification to be completed.
A clear toner that’s UV reflective can also be added, which will reveal any invisible images or text. This toner is not easily replicated, and is affordable, making it a cost-effective means of securing your products.

Tactile Labels

Labels can contain raised images and text, which cannot be reproduced using standard CMYK printers. A single image is printed using several toners applied on top of one another. This is done inside a black field in a single layer.

The above security measures can be difficult and costly to implement following printing. However, when they are integrated into the design of your security labels, they are much more cost-effective.

Adhesives and Label Security

Believe it or not, a label’s ability to provide security is directly related to the self-adhesive that’s being used. Basically, a self-adhesive is a chemical fastening system that isn’t heat-activated or activated by the evaporation of a solvent. Rather, the self-adhesive is activated by the application of pressure. It is only through the strength of an adhesive that the other elements of security labels like the substrate, seal or lamination on a label can be deemed effective.

Today’s adhesives, thanks to modern chemistry are able to provide labels with all of the needed properties for the increase and maintenance of security. But adhesives go beyond simply applying a label to a surface; adhesives can also be used to achieve certain label properties.

Opacity vs. Transparency

When an adhesive is loaded with aluminium powder, and then opaque materials are selected such as metallised film, opacity is achieved. It can also be achieved by printing labels using a single or series of particular printing processes.

Transparency is actually the more difficult property to achieve. There is a high demand for transparent labels, especially for ‘invisible’ style labels. Where ever the protection of documents, photographs or other security label elements is required, testing must occur beyond the lab.

Elements of Transparency Testing

Of course, the testing of any adhesive should occur in the laboratory. But even if real-world conditions can be replicated in a laboratory, real-world testing should also occur. For example, if a security label is supposed to adhere to a vehicle’s window, the fact that it will be exposed to all intensities of light and temperature should definitely be considered.

But in addition to that, it’s the fact that light and intensity will affect the label on both sides. A vehicle’s interior temperature can vary greatly from the temperature outside the vehicle. And a label’s temperature on the outer-facing side may also vary greatly on its inner-facing side.

The ability of a transparent label to be repositioned is another element that needs to be considered. As well, a label’s ability to be repositioned can also be affected by both internal and external temperatures. However, the client’s needs must also be thought of. If a client requires their labels to be permanently affixed, this will require a different set of properties than a client needing a highly-repositionable label.

Materials being adhered to

Understandably, there is a level of concern with regard to the potential damage of surfaces that labels are being adhered to. Indeed, there are several potential complications, especially where a label needs to be affixed to a wide range of surfaces.

Clarity of Transparency

Currently, the material offering the most clarity in terms of transparent films is PET or polyester. After this, it’s polypropylene, polystyrene and polyethylene. But of course, a high degree of transparency must ensure that both the label and its adhesive are equally transparent.

Most transparent adhesives are a minimum of 10 microns thick. They are usually applied in coats of around 20 grams per square metre. Even with adhesives, care needs to be taken to ensure that any backing used to protect the self-adhesive will not damage the adhesive when removed or if left to sit for long periods of time.

The removal of any self-adhesive label by a thief can be prevented by ensuring that the adhesive being used is able to resist the efforts by the thief to breach the adhesive bond. As well, any attempts to remove the label should be accompanied by some form of visual clue that the label has been tampered with. And although it may not be the most desirable measure, attempts to remove a label can also be made evident on the surface where the label is affixed.