Global threats are set to continue to push demand for authentication and brand protection devices such as holograms. The International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), which marks its 25th Anniversary in 2018, is witnessing the increased integration of holograms alongside other authentication and track and trace technologies to deliver overt and covert protection. According to the trade body, this will only strengthen holography’s role in tax stamp programmes in the next 12 months, combating the multi-billion global trade in illicit or counterfeit tobacco and alcohol products.
While Europe and North America will continue to offer opportunities, it’s the ‘hot spots’ of Asia – where counterfeiting appears systemic – that offer massive commercial potential. IHMA chairman Manoj Kochar commented: “Countries across Asia, notably India and China, will continue to offer unprecedented scope for growth in holograms in the ongoing battle to stem the tide of counterfeit goods flooding the market. Over the coming months, we’ll continue to see the increased integration of holograms in these territories as part of brand protection strategies being adopted by Governments and security agencies looking to effectively tackle the problem.”
The IHMA is set to build on its work with the Chinese authorities. Such a move will protect those retail brands destined for export markets against the threat of counterfeit criminals and organised crime.
“Counterfeiting cannot be defeated in isolation, so collaboration with the likes of the IHMA will be paramount,” added Kochar. “What we offer in terms of helping to tackle counterfeiting, and particularly so with the use of the Hologram Image Register, has to be a priority. International communication, open-mindedness and closer collaboration will be beneficial as we move forward, helping us to tackle and solve this problem together.”
The solution will include added value authentication systems as advocated in ISO 12931, in turn enabling examiners to verify the authenticity of a legitimate product, and thus differentiating it from the counterfeits. Even those goods that carry a ‘fake’ authentication feature may be distinguished from the genuine item if a carefully thought-out authentication solution is involved.
The arrival of new banknotes in 2018, including the new Armenian series, new notes from Canada and Australia and the new Swiss 200 Franc will only strengthen holography’s central role as a cutting-edge security device.
Holography will continue to hold up well in comparison with other optical variable features in the currency market, believes Kochar, and endure for the foreseeable future. “The use of polymer notes is growing and will benefit from holographic security features that continue to reassure both central banks and the public about currency authenticity. Some of the holographic features in more traditional paper substrates will also continue to push the boundaries of what the technology can now achieve, demonstrating that there’s plenty of mileage left in holography. In addition, 2018 will herald the Reserve Bank of India’s choice of selected products and providers for holographic security foils on banknotes, with approximate annual volumes of eight billion units.”
Holograms for ID – wherein innovations are being linked to digital applications, packaging and tax stamps – are all tipped for continued growth. “We’ve seen holographic features on ID documents grow hugely over the last few years, and there’s now a suite of products that incorporate ‘opto-digital’ functionality,” observed Kochar. “Eye-catching holograms add design appeal to brand packaging, so 2018 will see extended success in a sector where companies have to invest in new products or otherwise refresh existing brands in order to meet consumer demand.”
The IHMA also predicts more activity for holographic optical elements: an exciting area of opportunity for holography. Kochar feels that we will see organisations exploring holography technologies for new wearable head-up displays and other smart devices.
“While we have seen some fantastic industrial uses of this technology,” concluded Kochar, “we’re yet to witness significant consumer adoption, mainly due to price. Will 2018 be the year that this situation changes?”