Security Print Features

Holograms & Foils

Numbering & Personalisation

At Orion, we’re revolutionising the way we add security features to our certificates, tickets and other secure documents. We provide a range of security features that can be customised to suit your product. Our range includes holograms and foils, inks, papers, numbering and personalisation. Our solutions helps prevent forgery, counterfeiting and tampering on a range of important documents, giving our customers peace of mind.

At Orion, we have a comprehensive range of security print features available to provide our clients with the best security solution possible for their secure documents. Our customers are the forefront of our operation, and we’re constantly developing our security techniques as the latest technology and software becomes available. Our specialist designs make replication of your documents extremely difficult and any attempts easy to identify.

We support your product from the original brief through to distribution with the help of our specially trained fulfilment team. We can use our secure software solutions to send out your tickets, gift cards, certificates or any other secure document in a safe,  reliable and traceable way. We have an impeccable reputation in the security print industry and are entrusted by major brands to design, produce and distribute their valuable documents.

Security Features


Orion’s involvement with holograms dates back to the late 1980’s when our team were the first to successfully apply a metallised hologram to paper tickets for Wembley Stadium.

Holograms have since become the single most secure device on documents ranging from tickets to Banknotes.

Over the years advances in technology have enabled more and more sophisticated features to be included in hologram designs keeping them ahead of any potential counterfeiting attempts.

Orion have originated holograms for countless blue chip companies, bolstering their corporate identity whilst giving the utmost protection against counterfeiting.

Holograms fall into two distinct categories:

Registered Image: Where the same fixed image; logo/picture etc appears on every hologram

This type is normally a bespoke design specific to the client and would only be used on their company documents.

Hologram manufacturers usually have their own “house” design of registered hologram that is available to security printers for use as a generic hologram on any secure document.

This saves the cost of originating a bespoke design and ordering a minimum amount of foil which is often more than some clients would ever use.

Wallpaper Image: As with a roll of wallpaper an image is continually repeated to form a pattern.

The advantage of this type of foil is that bespoke shapes can be stamped out of it making it very versatile.

Again, the origination costs would not be borne by a single client but spread over a number of orders, making it more affordable for small users.

Within each of the above categories holograms are further split into different graphic types:

2D: a flat 2 dimensional fixed image changes colour when moved in the light source.

3D: 3 dimensional depth gives the appearance of different layers within the design

2D/3D: is a combination a fixed 2 dimensional image and the depth of 3D

Dot Matrix: similar to 2D but with more complex detail including microtext.

Fixed Colours

It is now possible to have fixed colours within a design which allows corporate colours to be retained whatever angle the hologram is viewed at whilst the rest of the image changes through the rainbow colour spectrum normally associated with holograms. Fixed colour holograms are one of the best ways to prevent counterfeiters from duplicating.

2D/3D are by far the most common type of hologram – consisting of two or more images stacked in such a way that each is alternately visible depending upon the angle of view, displaying unique multilevel, multi-colour effects that have one or two levels of graphics appearing to float above or at the surface of the hologram giving an illusion of depth.

Concealed images

Concealed or “latent” images can only be seen at specific (usually acute) angles and provide an excellent discreet check of authenticity.

Microtexts and Nanotexts

Dot matrix holograms are capable of embedding microtext at sizes from 50 – 150 microns. Microtext smaller than 50 microns is referred to as Nanotext and can only be observed with a microscope making them a very discreet covert feature.

Image flip

This is a two or three channel effect of 2D/3D holograms which displays different images from different angles. The combination of 2D/3D and flipping images can create very striking visual effects.

Covert Laser Readable (CLR) images

CLR imagery utilises a simple laser device to verify the hologram’s authenticity.  There are two types: Dynamic and Multigrade

Dynamic CLR uses laser readable fragments that produce animated images on the screen as the control device moves along the hologram surface.

Multigrade CLR images produce certain images on the screen of the controlling device.

Hidden images may also be created as part of the hologram.


Orion’s principal objective is to provide our customers with the highest level of document protection available in the market.  Security inks are just one of the vital components that can be added to the production process.

Security inks have improved considerably over recent years and differ significantly to standard inks due to the wide range available and the complexity of the products.  Orion have developed the necessary skills in utilising specialist inks to deliver high quality secure products across various sectors.

Different considerations are required when trying to safeguard a document and today’s inks have advanced to reflect an ever changing market.  It is very important to verify the target authentication method.  How is the product checked – overtly or covertly?

Visual effects such as fluorescent and heat reactive inks are notable methods for instant verification of authenticity, alongside concealed features for covert detection are both crucial when protecting against fraud and counterfeiting.   

Below are a few examples of the type of inks that are widely used on secure products and a brief description on the characteristics of some of them.

Thermochromic Ink

Thermochromic inks, usually known as heat reactive ink are sensitive to temperature change. The inks disappear or reappear when subjected to various temperature ranges and have been effectively used as an overt feature on products such as certificates, tickets and vouchers.  Various colours and specifically formulated inks are available and temperature points range from low refrigeration through to body heat and higher temperatures are available. When making a choice of which ink is most suitable to your requirements you need to take into consideration the climate or location they are going to be used in.

UV Ink

Ultra Violet (UV) ink is used extensively as a covert feature on security products.  The UV ink is invisible to the naked eye and can only be detected when viewed under a UV light source. When exposed to the specific light source the ink will appear and glow.  There are a variety of UV colours available and this security ink is generally used on currencies, cheque printing or any item that requires revenue protection.

Tamper evident

Where there is a concern that fraudsters are likely to alter or tamper with your document, there are measures that we can put in place to help identify that interference has occurred.  A diverse range of tamper evident inks are available to aid detection when a document is susceptible to fraud.

Solvent Sensitive ink has been devised to identify when there has been an attempt to remove or amend printed data from items such as cheques or tickets. The ink will smear or change colour when exposed to solvents. This will ordinarily be applied on printed watermarks and fine line designs.

Adhesion Promoting Varnish can be applied to documents that have an element of personalisation printed. The purpose of the varnish is as the name suggests is to aid the adhesion of toner to the substrate. Another feature of this product is that it can only be viewed using a UV light and if the toner has been removed or altered there is an apparent colour difference.

Fugitive inks (aqua) have been developed to protect products against fraudsters trying to tamper with documents with the use of water or water based solutions. Any bid to remove with water will cause this ink to run or blot giving anyone who is verifying a chance of identifying a forgery. There is also availability of a solvent sensitive & water sensitive ink that combines both ink characteristics.

Orion firmly believes that security inks combined with secure design, use of hologram and personalisation will offer your product the ultimate brand protection.

For other variations of security inks please contact a member of the Orion team to discuss further applications of our secure print services.


Watermarks in paper were first introduced in Fabriano, Italy, in 1282.

These were produced by impressing a water-coated metal stamp or “Dandy Roll” into the paper pulp during the manufacturing process and done by hand on a sheet by sheet basis

In 1826 John Marshall revolutionised the watermark process and made it easier for producers to watermark their paper, whilst new technologies have evolved over the years to further prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or otherwise duplicating sensitive and valuable documents.

As materials technology has developed, likewise the ability copy and fraudulently alter documents has unfortunately gained momentum as well. It has therefore been essential for security printers to keep (at least) one step ahead of both the opportunist and professional counterfeiter.

The base of many secure documents is the material on which they are produced and the controls surrounding its availability.

Most security papers incorporate features that can act to identify or authenticate a document as original, e.g. watermarks or invisible fibres in paper, or features that demonstrate tamper evidence when fraud is attempted, for example to remove or alter print such as amounts or signatures on a Bank cheque.

By far the most secure papers are those used in Banknotes, and whilst many of these are being replaced with the new polymer technology it is expected to be many years before all paper Banknotes move over to this.

What makes Banknote paper so secure is the content of the paper fibres which is mainly a cotton fibre (80-99%) originally sourced from common white linen rag.  Technically it is not a paper but a cloth with the look and feel of paper.

Banknote paper is also made by a Cylinder Mould process which enables very distinct watermarks to be created and accurately positioned for placement within a Banknote design. The Cylinder Mould process also facilitates the inclusion of “woven” metallic and holographic threads, so familiar in today’s notes.

By its very nature this type of paper is expensive to manufacture and is therefore mainly limited to the currency market.

A more cost effective alternative to the Cylinder Mould process and by far the most widely used commercially is the Fourdriniér process, whereby the paper pulp is pressed between engraved rollers which impart a watermark pattern into the paper. This process utilises paper pulp which is commercially more cost effective than Banknote paper and opens up the use of watermark paper to everyday documents such as certificates, tickets, cheques and many other items of value.

Additional features which can be incorporated into the paper include:

  • Embedded threads which are only visible when held up to the light
  • Invisible Ultra Violet fibres – these are usually between 3mm and 10mm long and are sometimes incorporated as daylight visible coloured fibres in the paper surface.
  • Planchettes – very small circular discs – sometimes micro engraved with images are another covert feature used in some papers.
  • Tamper evident chemicals that react to solvents, acids and alkalis have been used in cheque paper for many years and still have a place today in many secure documents

Most Security Papers are “UV (Ultra Violet) Dull”, often termed as OBA Free, and do not glow under UV light as normal commercial papers do.

OBA stands for Optical Brightening Agents which are bleaches and other means of making the paper appear whiter. This is the reason most watermark papers are off-white in colour and is essential if invisible UV fibres or UV printing is to show up clearly on the paper surface.

As well as preventing the counterfeiting of documents, security papers also help detect fraud whereby attempts are made to alter the data entered onto a document, whether it be changes to the value of a Bank Cheque or to the examination grades or candidate’s names on Certificates, there are numerous areas where this is essential to a documents integrity.

Removal of laser printed data has become a greater threat as more and more organisations print their variable data in-house on desktop printers.

The incorporation of laser adhesion surfaces and special varnishes greatly diminishes the ability of toner removal and many security papers specify this as standard.

There are also special taggants incorporating a chemical “DNA” that can only be decoded by special means and act as a unique identifier for that material.

These can be electronically read to give and instant remote verification, particularly useful in the packaging and mass transit industry.

Since the introduction of digital copying and printing it has never been more important to use secure materials such as watermarked papers to give tangible and tactile credibility to valuable and sensitive documents.


With the advent of colour laser copiers in the 1970’s, security printing came under an unprecedented threat as intricate security (guilloche) patterns could now be reproduced without re-creating the original designs.

Ways had to be found to recognise these colour copies and it was quickly identified that shiny metallic colours such as foil blocking reproduced as black images and not the metallic colours that were on the original document.

The forerunner of today’s metallic hot stamping foils was Gold Leaf which was pure gold, hammered to thickness by hand by highly skilled craftsmen. A technique that has been around for centuries. Modern technology however has enabled mass production of metallic foils with the majority of this coming from China and the far-east.

Colour laser and ink-jet printers are now commonplace in most homes and offices, making document copying extremely easy. What this equipment cannot do though is add metallic foiled images, making document copies easily identified.

Bespoke foiled shapes are produced from heated metal dies that are pressed (stamped) onto the roll of foil which is laid onto the paper surface. This activates a hot-melt glue which bonds the metallic (Aluminium) foil to the paper surface.

To take this metallic foiling to another level the stamping die can be engraved or chemically etched with intricate pattern work : the detail in a Coat of Arms for example.

This ensures “cut-out and pasted images” are more easily identified and provides a greater deterrent effect than non-embossed foil.

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