Holographic Colour Prints Against Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting of important documents is an ongoing problem and is getting more and more simple. Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have therefore invented a new anti-counterfeiting technology that uses 3D-printed holograms.

The Problem of Commonly Printed Holograms

For many years, one way to determine counterfeiting has been the use of holograms. These little prints can be found on nearly everything, including personal documents, bank cards and medicine packaging. The problem with traditional anti-counterfeiting holographics is that they are relatively easy to reproduce, due to the fact, that they only modulate the phase light they are exposed to. Therefore, Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have developed a new anti-counterfeiting device that uses 3D printing technology. Associate Professor Joel Yang explaines “The relationship of holograms in combating counterfeiting is analogous to antibiotics against infections. Every so often, new technology is needed to deter counterfeiters as the old fashioned holograms become easier to copy.”

How 3D Printing Can Be Used in Holography

The team has developed a technology that is called “holographic colour prints” that uses nano 3D-printed polymer structures to achieve a more secure proceed for producing important documents.

The team designed a nanostructured pixel that is strategically aranaged on a plane. Each pixel has two functions and is used as aspeed bump (phase) and a road block (amplitude) for incident light. Finally, a nano 3D Printer sculps a structured plate using a computer algorithm.

Holographic colour prints display a traditional printed image under white light, while showing different coloured holograms under laser light. The researchers used Luigi Russolo’s art painting “Perfume” from 1910 as a colour print to demonstrate the functionality. When exposed to white light, it looks like a normal 2D-printed painting. Different thick layers of polymerised cuboid are showing symbols of a red fingerprint, a green key and a blue lettering, saying “SECURITY”, when exposed to laser light. All of these images are achieved by one single print.

The Future of Holographic Printing

Joel Yang explains:

“For the first time, multiple holograms that are colour selective are ‘woven’ into a colourful image using advanced nanofabrication techniques. We are hopeful that these new holographic colour prints are user friendly but counterfeiter unfriendly: They are readily verified but challenging to copy, and can provide enhanced security in anti-counterfeiting applications.”


We are looking forward to what can be achieved with this new technology using 3D printing! Do you know about other areas where 3D Printing is used for security purposes?

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