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Alphabet- T /4


16. Taggant: Taggant is a marker powder which is added with the printing inks to enhance the security feature. Taggants act as a marker which can be read or the presence detected only by a special device which will be specially designed to authenticate them. Taggants are microscopic or nano materials that are uniquely encoded and virtually impossible to duplicate. They will act as human finger prints which can not be duplicated. They are specially formulated chemicals and physically ground to nano particle sizes to prevent duplication.
In the documents which are considered to be security documents in nature like Bank Notes, Stamps, and other Brand protected Labels some of the security features used are OVI inks, Holograms, See through and Guilloche designs and water marks etc. They are all visible overt features which the counterfeiters are able to duplicate to some extent. In order to impede such counterfeiting menace, covert (Hidden) features beyond overt (Visible) features became necessary, and they are thus provided in the form of Taggants to back up the security. The devices to authenticate them are custom made hand held devices which will authenticate only a particular product for which it has been designed with software inputs.
The devices which are meant to authenticate the taggants can not be opened to duplicate the inputs because they are sealed in such a fashion that once some one tries to open it, the printed circuit and the parts inside will break and tear off. The Taggants act as covert security features and only a proprietary optic electronic devices and sensors can detect these features. The Taggants are therefore used on the printed labels affixed on the consumable items like spare parts, Pharmaceutical products (labels) and or their cartons as covert ( Invisible) feature to identify the counterfeited products instantly on shops and outlets selling the products.
The labels printed with the Taggants can be verified by viewing them through the small hand held detectors which will show Green or Red lights to indicate the genuine product label. Since the Taggants are mostly patented products and specially prepared as customer specific Taggant (which will not be made available to other customers), it will be impossible to manufacture those Taggants as the material required to make the Taggants are difficult to source. Some times the same Taggants will be given to different customers, but their usage will be different pattern and authenticating device will also be adjusted to read the particular points and therefore even when the same Taggant is used by different customers they can not inter mix their products unless the know-how for mixing is given by the seller. 
The Taggants are not readily available across the shops, but only very few firms around the world is in a position to offer them because of patent rights. In addition to brand protection, the Taggants are used for enhancing the security features of Bank notes, stamps, tax stamps etc. Beyond labels, one of the Taggants offered as SmartSure, a patented product, works by authenticating the presence of Taggants in holograms. Upon scanning the hologram, the SmartSure app device connects to a cloud based server where the taggant is authenticated and additional track & trace information is provided (optional). More information can be seen in their site: . Few other firms like Authentix and Micro trace too offer such security features in the form of Taggants for mixing them with inks. Read more under their site: and
There are some more firms who offer such patented Taggants and the above examples are given only for enhancement of knowledge. Authentication of the products by the use of Taggants also comes under the next term Track and Trace both of which are in one way or the other inter connected.
17. Track and trace: This is again a wider term used in the printing industry where in the name of Track and Trace certain applications are offered and also partly connected with the Taggants term. The Track and Trace solution with Taggants are meant for Brand protection, products traceability and to authenticate the printed documents by adding the solutions as security features. The Track and Trace solution also help in the bigger printing presses like security printing units to identity the missing links.

Therefore the Track and Trace solution is offered in two levels. One is to identify the products by their Production location, issued location and batch no etc. The other form of Track and trace is to find out where the printed paper has been lost in the chain of print line. These solutions can be offered only by the specialist firms in the field with warranty and guarantee to function as the entire working system will have to be computerized and used with centralized server.

Let us see by the following example how the Track and Trace solution can function:

Supposing the printing press has three to five divisions that handle the print products in sheets before sending it to bindery unit. The printed sheets are in millions and has to travel through the three main divisions. In case some sheets get lost due to sabotage or machine malfunction and not traced till it is detected by the other department after several days, how to identify from which lot the sheet has been lost, and on which machine it has been lost?

When the sheets are printed in the first stage, every sheet printed will be printed with machine specific bar code mark in the trim area and they get recorded in the central server console through computerized programme. The spoiled sheets with Bar code mark will be read through the reader and accounted in storing unit. In the subsequent divisions when the sheets are printed, they keep on reading the bar code mark while printing and enter them in their data and indicate the missing sheets if any as separate list. The machine spoils from the second division will also get recorded as separate list.
At regular periodical-say twice a week, when the data is checked, the missing sheets with the specific bar code can be detected. Then the missing barcode no will be compared with those spoils from each sections. From the data, the sheets which have not been printed in the second section onward can be detected, and the machine location of the previously printed section will also be known along with the shift and time. The data page of the previous section will be opened to check the particular machine on which the said sheets have been printed. The data entry will show the machine on which the sheets were printed. It will also show the time and shift based on which the reasons will be analyzed.
In similar manner in brand protection case with the use of Taggants, the counterfeited material can be detected with Track and Trace function. Supposing a high selling product is manufactured at four locations. The batch nos ( which will be unit specific) with unique code will be printed on the Cartons and labels meant for each location. They will be automatically kept recorded in the centralized server via internet connection. They will be dispatched to specific locations across the country. With the field unit periodically checking the cartons at the outlets with a special device which will flash it to the central server, in minutes it will indicate whether the product for distribution in a particular location has been found to be sold in another location whose product code will be different, it can be safely presumed that the product has been smuggled and brought here to evade tax, or a counterfeited product or some unethical business deal is going on with the product. Secondly the non taggant print on the codes will indicate that the product is counterfeited one. The product manufacturer can then immediately institute mass inspection to find out the counterfeited product. 
 ………..Additions to alphabet T to be continued under T/5

About The Author


Retired Govt of India Official. My hobby is to write articles that range from Printing technologies to Spiritual.

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