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ZincSecure™, an innovative high security coin material, is an ideal product to replace high cost solid alloy coins and low value banknotes. ZincSecure™ has very strong overt and covert security features that distinguishes it from other coin materials.
The major security factors that differentiate ZincSecure™ from other materials are:
- Unique Electromagnetic Signature (EMS)
- Complexity in finished product processing
- Distinct Density
- Ability to form complex images on the coin surface that enhances its overt security
EMS is a critical security parameter on which circulation coin materials are differentiated. Coin vending and coin sorting machines use EMS to screen and differentiate coins. ZincSecure™ has a distinct EMS when compared to materials such as cupronickel and plated steel coins. The added advantage for ZincSecure™ is that different zinc alloy combinations can be manufactured by ARTAZN™, each with its own unique EMS (see Figure 1). This creates a tremendous advantage for ZincSecure™ as countries can avoid any risk of similar coins being substituted across borders.
Figure 1. Distinct EMS for ZincSecure™ Alloy Alternates vs Other Coin Material
EMS for ZincSecure™ is driven by the ZincSecure™ alloy, and not the plating layer. An advantage of this feature is that this creates a security barrier which enables banks and central mints to maintain a narrow EMS window despite wear. As can be seen in Figure 2, there is no change in the EMS before and after wear testing in case of ZincSecure™ while for plated steel the EMS shifts before and after the wear test. In real-life scenarios, for plated steel coins, banks will need to maintain a broad window to ensure coins with different degrees of wear pass through the vending and sorting systems, making it vulnerable to counterfeiting. In case of ZincSecure™, there is no such concern due to high consistency of EMS. This was supported by the European Vending Association (EVA) that tested and reported that zinc alloys demonstrated a minimal EMS spread and it offers better security in comparison to plated steel.
Figure 2. Consistent EMS for ZincSecure™ Coins Before and After Wear Testing
ARTAZN™ has the in-house capability to produce different plating finishes on alloys with a distinct EMS (See figure 3 and 4) depending on customer requirement.
Figure 3. EMS Comparison with White Finish Coinage Material
Figure 4. EMS Comparison with Yellow Finish Coinage Material
In addition, with our product extension – ZincSecure™ bi-metal coins, the security feature is enhanced further. Using different ZincSecure™ alloys for the ring and core of the bi-metal coin, the number of ring-core combinations, each with its unique EMS, is amplifies the EMS security (see figure 5). This provides monetary authorities more options and higher degree of security, making ZincSecure™ bi-metal coins a candidate to replace high value solid alloy coins and higher value bank notes.
Figure 5. Unique EMS for ZincSecure™ Bi-metal Coins vs Other Bi-metal Circulation Coins
Sophisticated Manufacturing Process
The sophistication required for ZincSecure™’s manufacturing process is an important element that enhances its security. The difficulty in acquiring the process capability, precision, validating systems and the technical know-how are strong deterrents for counterfeiters to reproduce ZincSecure™ coins. Requirement of additional processes and the necessary level of expertise makes it arduous for counterfeiters to replicate the material. Additionally, plating on zinc is not common and is more complex than other types of plating. Through its many years of experience, ARTAZN™ has been able to master and gain a high degree of understanding of this process, making different plated finishes for ZincSecure™ available to its customers.
Figure 6 portrays the above point of the precision required for manufacturing ZincSecure™. A counterfeiter who is unable to obtain the exact ZincSecure™ alloy, could attempt fraud using a different grade of zinc-based alloy. This exercise would be futile since the EMS would not match with the EMS of the Mint’s ZincSecure™ alloy. In the case of steel, EMS of different grades of steel (in this case 1001 and 1006) coincides, providing opportunity for counterfeiters to substitute one grade of steel for another.
Figure 6. EMS Separation for Two Different ZincSecure Alloys (plated) vs Two Different Grades of Steel (plated)
Another security feature for ZincSecure™ arises from density. The uniqueness in densities (Figure 7) shows the scaled density difference of a particular base material with respect to neighboring base materials on a density scale. The density of zinc falls into a unique realm. Among the commonly used coin materials, the closest neighbor for zinc in terms of density is stainless steel (for white-finish material) and aluminum bronze (for yellow finish material). Stainless steel is 12% heavier and aluminum bronze is 5% heavier than zinc. Both these differences are significant enough for automated machines to differentiate it from other coinage materials using weight and size measurements. ZincSecure™’s density differential makes it difficult for counterfeiters to use other coinage materials as a substitute.
Figure 7. Density Differential
Complexity of Overt Features
Overt features such as latent or embossed images, edge lettering and bi-color / bi-metal coins allow an average person to judge the authenticity of coins. Internal testing of die-fill performance verifies the excellent performance of ZincSecure™ coins to have images embossed on it (See figure 8). Complex image features (as seen in the detailed image for the single-piece nickel plated ZincSecure™ coin below) can be coined onto ZincSecure™ blanks with relative ease, strengthening its counterfeit resistance in comparison to other coin materials.
Commemorative Coin for The Singapore Mint using ZincSecure™
(courtesy: The Singapore Mint)
Figure 8. Die-fill Results