Looking Back, Moving Forward
How was 2004 for you? For the industry as a whole, reviewing the developments that we covered last year in Holography News, we can conclude that it was a good year for most, with many positive developments that set the scene for 2005 and beyond, but with sufficient clouds on the horizon to prevent any complacency.
In terms of markets, in the high security arena the growth of holograms on banknotes continues apace (see page 3) and this will continue to be key market notwithstanding the recent news that the new $100 and other denominations will not, in all likelihood, include a holographic feature. In other high security markets, passports took something of a back seat, for holograms at least – not because of technology concerns but because of the current pre-occupation with biometrics. But elsewhere in document protection, AAMVA’s specification of holograms on all US driving licences was a significant boost for the industry, while the tax stamp market continues provide significant high volume opportunities for suppliers. There were few major developments in brand protection – although the use of holograms as the prime authentication feature on a new labelling program for pharmaceutical products in Malaysia, and the Olympics 2004 merchandising program demonstrated the continuing success of holograms in these areas. On the downside, the FDA’s controversial decision to adopt RFID-based track and trace as the solution to product safety and supply chain management for pharmaceuticals in the US could have unwelcome consequences for the industry should drug regulatory authorities elsewhere in the world follow its example. In packaging, meanwhile, as the Stock watch article in this issue (see page 6) points out, it is barely possible to go out nowadays without seeing holography embellishing shop shelves on all manner of goods from luxury high end to everyday items. Innovation and Development On the technology front, holography continued to demonstrate its inherent capacity for innovation and development. The integration of holograms with other technologies for enhanced security and functionality continued apace – examples including Schreiner’s KeySecure technology, Securikett’s Authentikett labels, combined hologram/DNA/RFID labels from ADNAS and Holomex and enhancements to teas scribos’ Holospot system (see page 8) to name but a few. In the banknote market, De La Rue, Louisenthal and Kurz all launched new security features during 2004 based on combinations of substrate, thread and foil technology. In terms of production, Newmec and Gidue both entered the market with foil applications systems, General Vacuum launched its new compact metalliser while Spatial Imaging’s new Lightspeed digital hologram printer marked the beginning of new era in large format hologram origination. Aside from the developments in the ‘conventional’ market for authentication and decorative devices, holography is also beginning to demonstrate its potential for use as a tool as well as a feature. Examples of this potential include Smart Holograms’ development of reflection holograms as medical diagnostic devices and holographic data storage systems from Optware. Publicly-listed companies were covered in detail in the December issue of Holography News. But there was news from many other quarters as well, including the expansion plans announced by ABNH, ITW Covid, AFC and Holoshape, and AET Films’ move into wide embossing on the packaging front. Louisenthal, a major player in the banknote industry, revealed that it now offers full-scale hologram production, including origination, while its former strategic partner in foils, Hueck Folien, joined the ranks of banknote suppliers with its first order for stripes for the Thai currency, signalling a potentially significant new entrant to the market. Its arrival was partially offset by AOT’s decision to abandon banknote foils, while the bankruptcy of another high security supplier, Mantegazza, was staved off by its acquisition by Italian security papermaker Fabriano. Outside of the traditional industry centres of Western Europe and North America, the Far East, India and Eastern Europe and the CIS countries continue to play an increasingly important role – not just as markets for western companies but as major centres of development in their own right. Russia, a hotbed of scientific innovation, held its first regional conference this year; the commitment amongst Indian companies to quality and industry standards is an inspiration to us all, while all eyes are currently on China, the location for the 2005 Holo-pack•Holo-print which will provide the first opportunity for many western hologram companies to witness the strength and scope of this massive market. 2004’s Downside So much for the positive. On the downside, RFID continues to position itself, and be viewed in some quarters, as the ‘silver bullet’ antidote to counterfeiting and diversion, new technologies such as Nanoventions claim their superiority over diffractive features and high quality counterfeit holograms have been discovered on currency – notably the euro. The latter, in particular, is leading to a perceptible sense of disenchantment with holograms in terms of their claimed security benefits, technology proliferation and lax standards amongst suppliers. This topic has been covered exhaustively in recent issues of Holography News and was one of the main topics for discussion at the recent Holo-pack•Holo-print conference in Prague, a positive outcome of which was the openness of debate and willingness amongst industry participants to work collectively to address the real issues that are causing concern and counter the misperceptions behind them. All in all, not a bad year for the industry. Provided the concerns leading to disenchantment in some sectors continues to be recognised and addressed with appropriate measures, and provided hologram companies continue to invest in the new products and techniques that form the lifeblood and future of this industry, 2005 could be even better.
A Watershed Year for the IHMA
In his Chairman’s report to the Annual General Meeting of the International Hologram Manufacturers’ Association, Hugues Souparis identified the launch of the Secure Hologram Producer Certification Scheme as a watershed for the Association (se HN Vol 18 No 3). This Scheme, run in co-operation with Intergraf, should make a significant contribution to improving procedures in the secure hologram field, and help to raise customer awareness of the need to source secure holograms from a qualified secure producer. Souparis’ company, Hologram Industries, was the first to be certified, but several others have now applied. Another important development during the year had been the negotiations with the Hologram Manufacturers’ Association of India (HoMAI), aimed at building a strong relationship between the two associations and serving as a model for the IHMA’s relationship with other regional or national hologram associations. An important part of the planned relationship was that the IHMA’s Hologram Image Register and HoMAI’s Hologram Registry would be linked so that all searches for a hologram match on either database would cover both databases, improving the likelihood of identifying matches which resulted from attempts to source illicit copies of a hologram already in use. He reported that Despite the news that the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing is casting its net wider for security features (see page 1), banknotes continue to be a good market for the holography industry. A number of new banknotes have been introduced during 2004, including two major currencies – the new Canadian dollar series which features a stripe and the two higher denominations of the newly-designed Japanese yen, each with a patch. Kurz was the supplier for both, the latter understood to be the largest single hologram order for banknotes in the industry. Other currencies that have introduced holograms to all or most of their the Board was in discussion with the China AntiCounterfeiting Technology Association (CATA) with a view to CATA establishing a hologram section, and that the IHMA was also in preliminary discussions with Russian producers interested in an industry organisation there. Souparis also reminded members of IHMA’s links with Interpol and other international and national police organisations, saying that he hoped to build on these contacts in the coming year. New Board Members In the elections at the AGM, Souparis was re-elected Chairman – a post he can hold for another two years. Wilfried Schipper (Hologram Company Rako) was elected as the European representative on the Board, with Alkis Lembessis (Cavomit and Taurus) as his deputy; Umendra Gupta (Holostik India) was re-elected as Asian representative, with Khalid Khanani (Metatex) as deputy. Randy James (Pacific
Holographics) was elected as deputy North American representative and since the AGM the Board has co-opted John Halotek (ITW Covid) as the North American representative, there being no accepted nomination at the meeting. Alex Goncharsky (Computer Holography Centre, Moscow) and Ken Traub (ABNH) remain on the board for a second and fourth year respectively.
Spreading the Word
In addition to the objectives above, a key task for the IHMA in 2005 and thereafter will be to promote the positive benefits of holograms, particularly as authentication devices, as a counter to disenchantment with the technology in certain quarters, notably some parts of the high security sector. A proactive PR campaign, a greater presence at industry conferences, an improved website as a communications tool both for members and users, and a drive to increase the membership and the visibility of the IHMA are all currently underway. The hologram industry is one of the few in the authentication sector to have its own association and the IHMA is committed to building on this position and the strengths that a collective voice can provide for hologram companies.
General Vacuum’s New Compact Metalliser (Pg # 5)
General Vacuum, manufacturer of vacuum metallising equipment, unveiled further details of its new compact Holosec™ metalliser (see HN Vol 18 No 2) at the recent Holo-pack•Holo-print conference in Prague.
Vacuum metallisers have until now been supplied with production widths of 800-3000m, limiting their use both financially and for production purposes among small and narrow-web hologram producers and forcing these to buy in their film and foil pre-metallised from wide web suppliers. The Holosec was designed to fill this niche and enable narrow-web producers to bring metallising in-house, thereby increasing their security of production and enabling them to take advantage of the specialised treatments the system offers. The Holosec combines the vacuum chamber, unwind and rewind units, plasma pre-treatment, demetallization and evaporation source within one compact unit with a footprint of 2m x 3m. In addition to the conventional aluminium used for holographic films and foils, it can coat silicon oxide, chrome, silver and copper and zinc sulphide for high refractive index films. It also offers pattern demetallisation with in-line registration and plasma pre-treatment that enhances the surface energy of the films to improve adhesion and hence quality. The run rate varies from 10m to a maximum of 200m per minute. General Vacuum, formerly Valmet and now part of the Bobst Group, declined to give prices for the Holosec, stating that these depend on specification. But it can assumed that they will be considerably lower than the prices for wide web systems. When questioned at Holopack.• Holo-print about the risks of spreading low-cost secure hologram production technology in the market, Dr Nadir Ahmed, who gave the presentation on behalf of his former company, commented that the company would check the legitimacy of customers before supply. To date, two machines have been sold with other orders in the pipeline for early 2005.
Contact: Andy Jack, General Vacuum
Equipment. Tel: +44 1706 622442;
Menzel Vision System for Web Guiding
Menzel, a German company specialising in machinery for finishing and inspection machines for textiles, expanded into similar equipment for the plastic films industry in the late 1960s, and at Holopack• Holo-print exhibited a machine vision system for control of web handling machines for holographic films. The system keeps web lines in register to improve the accuracy and quality of slitting, winding/re-winding, stamping and other hologram finishing processes. Based on the company’s experience building textile and film web guiding systems, the hologram guiding system can be set to read the edge of the hologram film or a specific part of the pattern in the hologram – the camera scans across the width of the film to record the edge position, the registration mark position or the position of a specified image element. Once programmed, it feeds the image data to a sensor and a controller, which in turn adjusts the web guides to maintain the position of the web.
The Menzel vision system for holographic film costs around €17- 20,000, depending on the configuration required.
Optical Document Security
The third edition of the reference book Optical Document Security is now available from publishers Artech House. Written by Rudolf van Renesse, an expert in the field and editor and co-author of the two previous editions (published in 1994 and 1998 respectively), the book provides a comprehensive and cohesive treatment of all aspects of optical document security, according to its
The book’s contents have been substantially updated and revised from the previous edition, and expanded to include coverage of additional security features and evaluation. The introduction on the theory of colours is followed by chapters on light interference and diffraction, substrate-based security, printing inks and printing techniques, printed security patterns (including screen decoded images and digital watermarks), diffractive- and interference-based security features, security design and evaluation and an introduction to biometrics. The emphasis is on both the physics of security features and their value in resisting counterfeiting, while the chapter evaluating security design looks at the human factors of first line document inspection.
The book’s 350 pages contain over 270 black and white illustrations, including live security documents, and an appendix with samples of important security features. In addition, a CD-ROM is included which contains all illustrations of the book in full-colour. Author Rudolf van Renesse was senior research engineer in the Optics Department of TNO Institute of Applied Physics in The Netherlands and is now
an independent consultant on document security for government departments and banking and financial institutions. He has extensive experience in the areas of holography, optical inspection techniques, and the theory of colors and document security, and is the author of more than 80 publications in these areas, as well as a contributor to Holography News and its sister publications Authentication News and Currency News. Optical Document Security is available at the discounted price £72/$118 from Artech House –
Display Holography on the Rise
“Photopolymer is making progress … winning projects that perhaps embossed hologram producers might have expected to supply”
We feel for Nick Hardy and Valerie Love of OpGraphics, the British company that has listed its DuPont photopolymer hologram production equipment for sale on eBay. Op has been producing display holograms for the gift and promotional trade since 1983, originally on Agfa silver halide films, then in the 1990s Nick Hardy started working with DuPont’s holographic photopolymer, partly
because Agfa ceased production of its holographic films, partly because the photopolymer reflection holograms had lower noise and were more light efficient. Unfortunately, when DuPont Authentication Systems was established as a joint venture with Label Systems Inc, the company decided to restrict the distribution of its unexposed photopolymer film to authorised security hologram producers. Op were among the hologram producers which were given notice of a cessation of supply. They tried to fight this under competition law in the UK, but despite their significant investment in DuPont’s production equipment and the time to perfect their processes, this was to no avail. The result: holographic production kit being offered on eBay.
The Year of Photopolymer?
The timing could not be more poignant as there appears to be an upsurge of interest in photopolymer holograms – could 2005 be the year of photopolymer? The year has started well for DAS with NASCAR’s announcement of its licensed product authentication label, a numbered photopolymer reflection hologram (see page 4). To date, the North American sports licensing authentication projects have been dominated by embossed holograms. NASCAR (the most popular motor sport organisation in North America) may not rival the big national sporting leagues in popularity, but big race meetings such as Daytona and Indianapolis attract large crowds of eager souvenir hunters. Last year, DAS released its izon™ advanced photopolymer holograms, offering instant holo portraits on the film, making it particularly suitable for ID documents. And across the Pacific, Dai Nippon and Nippon Paint Co announced that Teikoku Piston Ring Co had become the first major customer for authentication holograms on Secure Image™ hot-stampable photopolymer. So photopolymer is making progress in the brand protection market, perhaps winning projects that embossed hologram producers might have expected to supply. Two announcements do not make a fully-fledged market, but do represent progress. Coming Full Circle
And now, coming full circle, Liti Holographics has announced that it is shipping a new instant holographic film suitable for reflection holograms for the home and hobby market (see page 3). Meanwhile, silver halide display holograms remain a force in the marketplace. Slavich continues to find a market in Russia and beyond for its silver halide plates and films, and Colour Holographics, which took over the production and supply of HRT holographic plates, finds a steady if not spectacular market. The company is finding a ready market for its own large format co lour holograms, while other silver halide display hologram producers remain in steady production. The availability of compact LED lights which illuminate holograms at a very high quality, and the improved recognition by holographers that they have to deliver a complete, lit and framed installation, is boosting the readiness of display artists and interior designers to consider display holograms as a medium. As one who first got involved in holography because of the excitement of such 3D images, it is reassuring and somewhat surprising to see the continuing interest in full parallax holograms, complementing and supplementing the large volume market of embossed holograms.
Liti’s New Reflection Film
Liti Holographics, which offers low cost portrait hologram kits selling for $99 (see HN Vol 18, No 9), has launched a new hologram film. According to the company, this film has all the ‘instant hologram’ qualities of its previous film but is now capable of making reflection as well as transmission holograms. The new film is red-sensitive, making it compatible with both the Litiholo and other hologram kits, as well as red laser diodes and even helium neon lasers.
Nigeria’s New Pharma Certificate
NAFDAC, the Nigerian Food & Drugs Agency, has introduced a new certificate to be issued to authorised imported and domestically produced pharmaceuticals. The new certificate is being produced by a security printer in the UK and includes a hologram among its security features. This follows participation by Dr Dora Akunyili, Director of NAFDAC in the first Global Forum on Pharmaceutical AntiCounterfeiting, where she made contact with possible suppliers among the exhibitors.
Pharmaceuticals: a Hologram Market Expanding or Threatened?
At the time of writing, the 2nd Global Forum on Pharmaceutical AntiCounterfeiting has just finished in Paris, organised by Holography News’ publisher, Reconnaissance International. One of the themes to emerge during the course of the 21/2 day meeting was the importance of authentication of genuine products as part of the system to combat counterfeit medicines, heard from speakers from national drug regulatory agencies and from pharmaceutical manufacturers. Several of the speakers implied, but Dr Thomas Zimmer of Boehringer Ingelheim explicitly stated, that the ideal authentication device for pharmaceuticals is not yet available. As Dr Zimmer was speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Anti-Counterfeit Group of the European Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA), his observations must be taken seriously by suppliers – or aspiring suppliers – of authentication products to the pharmaceutical sector.
To date holograms have been the leading device used for overt authentication on pharmaceuticals, so the claim that the ideal device is not yet available can only be interpreted as a
challenge to hologram suppliers. Either holograms have failed to deliver what the pharma sector requires or hologram manufacturers have not succeeded in persuading their customers to use all the levels of security that a hologram can offer; that is first, second and third levels – overt, covert and machine read. To implement covert and machine read requires additional investment by customers in training, reading tools and – for machine read – infrastructure.
The pharmaceutical sector is ideal for the introduction of such an infrastructure. Another call at the Global Forum was for increased harmonisation of authentication and inspection systems. In a sector which is as regulated and as controlled as this one, where all medicines (at least, the legitimate ones) are distributed through a controlled system in a willing partnership between manufacturers, distributors, retailers and governments, training and equipping those who handle the goods to examine the authentication device should be feasible. As should the introduction of a machine-read infrastructure, assuming that there is commonality of what is to be read. The call for greater harmonisation results from the heterogeneity in the sector at present, which makes inpsection and examination a harder task for all involved.
At present each hologram supplier offers its own proprietary method of encoding and reading hidden data. It is impractical for a warehouse or pharmacist to be equipped with numerous hologram reading systems, each one required to read the differently encoded information on the holograms from each of the many manufacturers whose medicines they provide. Equally, government inspectors are not able to carry around numerous handheld devices. But as the well-established precedent of credit cards and bar-codes shows, distributors and retailers will equip themselves to read standardised codes if the equipment footprint, cost and training required is minimal and the compatibility is maximal.
Can the hologram industry achieve this for the pharmaceutical sector? That is to say, will the hologram industry recognise that here is a cause where collaboration on the adoption of a common approach to encoding and decoding could offer the industry the opportunity to capture that market for many years to come? Because once established, any competing technique has not just to prove itself superior, but must also overcome the inevitable reluctance of a whole sector to change the way it does things.
The hologram industry starts with a huge advantage because holograms have an established customer base in the Pharma sector. And holograms are perceived by the public as a mark of authentication – the public may not know how to examine a hologram but its presence gives a level of comfort. Yet if the industry takes no coherent action to work together, it will squander this advantage. The Pharma sector (manufacturers, regulators, even patients’ groups) is making a case for the ideal authentication device, without perhaps realising that what is actually needed is an authentication system. That system could be built around holograms – but it could alternatively be built around other types of device. There are many alternatives all seeking to usurp holograms from their number one spot. Recently, RFID has made the running, in lobbying and PR terms at least, but other technologies – taggants, magnetics, complex bar-codes and others – are all looking for their ‘killer application’ and see the pharma sector as ripe for their efforts. The pharma sector is giving mixed signals about the use of holograms. On one side, Pfizer, in its current generation of product authentication, is currently using colour shift inks instead of holograms as the basis for its solution; on the positive side, Malaysia’s Meditag uses a three-level hologram (overt, covert and machine-read) at the heart of a system of registration and inspection. Can the hologram industry – not individual suppliers, but the industry working together – persuade the whole pharmaceutical sector that Malaysia’s is the way forward, not Pfizer’s?
The RFID industry successfully lobbied the US Food & Drug’s Administration anticounterfeit task force so that it has identified RFID as the best way forward, although it has left the door open for other technologies by not mandating the use of RFID. This is the example the hologram industry needs to follow, because it has to persuade governments, distributors and manufacturers that the pharma sector can continue to use – or even, needs to use – holograms at the heart of an integrated system of authentication. The prize is immense, because other market sectors would follow the pharmaceuticals sector. There is no consolation prize, because surrendering this market sector to an alternative technology would give an unavoidable signal to other market sectors.
HoloTouch™ Inc, a development company based in Darien, Connecticut working in association with Atlantex Corp, has launched the BeamOne HoloTouch evaluation unit, a working demonstration of its noncontact control technique. HoloTouch was founded by R Douglas McPheters to exploit its patented process for projecting a real holographic image of a keypad or similar finger-tip control board such that passing a real item, such as a finger, through the image, activates the control (US Patent 6377238 – see H N Vol 17 No 6). Atlantex specialises in helping bring new products to market, especially in the field of electronic controls and computer accessories .
The BeamOne is a four-button box to issue instructions to a PC, to which it is connected by a USB cable. The holographic image of the buttons float about 4″ (10 cm) above the BeamOne box and can be programmed to instruct the computer to perform the required functions. It is fully functional, priced at US$1995, but is characterised by Atlantex and HoloTouch as an evaluation device. Nonetheless, it has been chosen by readers of Control Engineering as ‘the most innovative human-machine interface featured in Control Engineering during the past year.’ McPheters identifies HoloTouch as suiting applications where non-contact is important, such as in a sterile environment, or where switches or buttons cannot be made rugged enough for the environment. The hologram image can also be larger than the keypad it mimics, making it suitable where the device is small or vision may require assistance, such as for sight impaired people or while driving a vehicle, where a quick glance at a small button can be dangerous. The hologram is also, of course, intrinsically illuminated, so it is useful for night time or dark environments. HoloTouch and Atlantex are looking for applications partners who will adapt the HoloTouch technique into their own control devices.
HoloTouch Selected for FastTrack
HoloTouch™ Inc, the company that has developed a holographic interface for contactless control devices, has been selected for Connecticut Technology Council’s FastTrack scheme for promising
high-technology start-ups. FastTrack is an advisory and matching programme that helps start-ups with innovative ideas and rapid growth potential to gain seed-stage capital and business planning input through the mobilisation of a network of investors, advisors, professional service providers and industry contacts. Commenting on the scheme, HoloTouch founder and president R Douglas McPheters said: ‘FastTrack offers potentially valuable assistance in connecting us with mentors and advisors and can promote our partnering with companies who see value in our innovative touchless, holographic actuation and control technology’.
The company has already partnered with Atlantex Corp to launch the BeamOne HoloTouch unit. This enables operators of control boards such as keypads to enter commands simply by passing a finger through holographic images that represent these commands and float in front of the device (see HN Vol 19, No 3) and is suited for applications where non-contact is important for operability of hygiene, including consumer electronics, kiosks, ATMs and medical equipment. HoloTouch and Atlantex have also announced that the BeamOne is now available with relay output, extending the
technology’s reach to electronic equipment controlled by programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
already offers communication with PCs through USB, serial and other ports. According to McPheters, this latest development means that the technology can now be used in a numerous industrial applications as well, such as factory floor equipment. McPheters will be presenting a paper on the HoloTouch technology at Holopack• Holo-print 2005.
Holotek Doubles Sales and Profits
Holotek Technologies Ltd, of Sanzao Zhuhai in China, has doubled its sales and profits in 2004 and is aiming to achieve at least 50% growth in 2005. Its 2003 audited sales of RMB103m (±US$12.5m) rose to RMB210M (±$25.5m) in 2004, with net profit climbing from RMB58m (±$7m) to RMB123.5m (±$15.2m), but note that the 2004 figures are not yet audited. Although the company was not liable to tax in its first years of operation (as a start-up in the Zhuhai Economic Zone), these margins of almost 60% make Holotek probably the most profitable holographic producer in the world, both by margin and in its dollar figure. 98% of these sales are for packaging, mainly for transfer metallising of cigarette liners and cartons; 85% is on OPP with the reminder on PET. Holotek has been through ownership changes since we first reported on the company (see HN Vol 17 No 6). It was set up by Fong Teng Technology of Taiwan, but government regulations limit the investment that can be put into a mainland Chinese company from Taiwan. FT has accordingly sold its interest to four private shareholders, including the CEO Mark Chiang (as a minority owner), and Holotek operates as a subsidiary of Aimrich which is registered in Samoa. The company has also divested its former 49% holding in Yong Feng Tian Technology, a Shenzhen company that produces cigarette packaging materials. All these changes mean Holotek has also postponed its plans to float on the Hong Kong stock exchange. It had originally stated its aim was to float this year with a market capitalisation of US$150m, but it is now aiming for floatation in 2008 with a
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