How Banknotes Are Made

Banknotes can be made using polymer or specially blended paper through an intricate, safe and thorough process. Here is some insight into how banknotes are made.

This article is about the production of modern banknotes, the types of materials used, the inks, the logos, and so forth. We will also take a look at the process of making paper money.

What materials are banknotes made from? You will be surprised that the “paper” used to make banknotes is actually more than paper, as it is made of a special blend of cotton and linen. The banknote paper for US currency notes, for example, is 75% cotton and 25% linen. It is this blend of the two natural materials that makes paper money so durable. That is why banknotes survive even a thorough washing without tearing up, when you forget one in your pockets.

Polymer Currency Notes

Not all currency notes are made with the above-mentioned paper. For example, in the UK, currency notes are made with polymer, which is more durable and counterfeit-proof than paper money.

Polymer banknotes are made with a thin film of strong, durable plastic. It is said that this material allows the manufacturer of the banknotes to include clear portions in the note that cannot be counterfeited easily. Where paper money is more attractive to dirt, grease, and moisture, it is the exact opposite for the polymer notes since they can resist dirt very well. Thus, they are considered cleaner and safer.

In the UK, £10 polymer note will be introduced into circulation in the summer of 2017. A twenty will follow by 2020 and a fiver is already in circulation. At least in the UK, soon paper money will be phased out by polymer money.

1. Production Process

The production process of paper money is extensive, but we will be covering some of the more important stages. Every stage of the production is secured and strictly controlled. Every note that goes into production, even the ones that spoil must be accounted for at the end of the process.

2. The Design Stage

Artwork, graphic design, and the inclusion of all security features that must appear on a note occur at this stage. Once the design is created, it is submitted to the authorized parties for approval. Once approved, the banknote will go into the plate making stage.

3. Plate Making Stage

This is an intricate and long process involving things like color separation. The digital proof prints produced in the design stage are sent to high precision equipment that will make the mother plates that will be used for intaglio printing, where the ink that can be found below the plate’s surface is used for the printing. From these mother-printing plates, the final printing plates are made.

4. The Printing Stage

Once the plates are ready, it’s time for the printing of the currency notes. Here, many things happen, but the first is that a polymer or paper substrate is selected depending on the currency note that is under production. Then the substrate sheets are subjected to a high-speed rotary process that will print multi-color background designs and tints both on the front and backsides of the sheets depending on the designated design.

Then comes the intaglio printing at the back where the substrate sheets come into contact with the printing plates at high pressure and ink is transferred to the paper or polymer to make 3D fine lines, which can be felt by hand. These lines are also letters, but ones that can only be seen under magnification. The substrate sheet then undergoes another round of intaglio printing, this time on what will be the front-end of the banknote.

5. Varnishing and Finishing

Once the printing is complete, the sheets are varnished to make them more secure. They are then are stacked in hundreds for cutting. After cutting, each note is passed through a quality control section where it is inspected for defaults. The approved notes are counted, stacked into bundles of thousands, and stored so they are ready for delivery.

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