What Are Banknotes Made From? The Difference between Polymer and Paper Banknotes
Currency notes are an invaluable tool for facilitating trade and commercial activities. Ever since the first banknotes went into circulation, central banks all over the world have experimented with different kinds of materials to produce their notes. The primary characteristics that currencies should possess include being lightweight, printable, and able to be overlaid with security features. Paper and polymer have risen above the other kinds of materials to become the main ones that are used. If you are wondering what all the fuss about these materials is all about, read on to learn more.
What are banknotes made from?
It is not hard to see why central bankers in all parts of the world favor these two materials. They are similar on a number of fronts. Both are printable, which is one of the primary reasons why they have been chosen for currency production as relevant details such as the denomination and country can be printed on them. Likewise, they are capable of being infused with other materials to form a more compact note. This is usually done to make them more durable and can be done using any kind of appropriate material. The other similarity between these two types of modern banknotes is the fact that they can be dyed. This enables the manufacturer to effectively dye them as per the design requirements. This is reinforced by the final similarity, the ability to be overlaid with several different security features. These features may include raised prints and holograms that protect the currency against counterfeiting.
Polymer vs Paper
However, the paper and polymer notes also have wide-ranging differences that make them unique from each other. Top among these is the production process. While the paper currency consists of cotton paper infused with some other materials, most polymers are produced by artificial synthesis before being added to natural materials. Consequently, the two differ in terms of features such as being waterproof – those made using polymer are waterproof while the others are not. Another contrast is the period of operation. Paper currencies have been in circulation since the introduction of the first currencies, while the polymer ones have just recently come into use. Although the paper currencies are the most prevalent as they are being used all over the world, there is a shift towards the polymer counterparts. This is a movement that is especially gaining momentum in Europe with most governments switching from the paper to the polymer banknotes.
Which is better?
One may say that it does not really matter what kind of paper money is printed on as long as it is genuine. However, the benefits of polymer over paper notes render this statement false. To begin with, polymer is largely resistant to water. Since it has plastic-like properties, one can be able to salvage the notes from water without too much effort. The same goes for dirt resistance; unlike the paper notes, the ones made of polymer can withstand long service periods without being damaged by dirt. It therefore makes it possible for the notes to be used for a longer period of time. Another thing about these polymers that makes them such an attractive option is the fact that they are harder to counterfeit. The production of fake paper currency is booming, and there is a need for a proper option as the nature of the material makes it nearly impossible to duplicate the data contained in them. These characteristics have made the polymer currencies the most preferred choice, giving central bankers the ability to effectively design and protect their notes.