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Anti-counterfeit foil for security packaging

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ACfoil (Anti-counterfeit foil for security packaging)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-03-31

Project ACfoil aims to bring holograms to flexible packaging materials, at much lower costs than available today. The aim is to help producers of valuable goods to protect themselves against counterfeit products. Counterfeit products are a major threat to consumer safety today, and leads to loss of life and value everywhere.

The objectives of the project are:
- to demonstrate that tools can be made for production of holograms directly in flexible packaging material
- to use the produced material as demonstration for producers of pharmaceutical and food products
- to establish input for a business model based on the new technical capabilities
The technical work performed was:

1: Design and manufacture hologram version of the logo of the flexible packaging manufacturer

2: Manufacture of a cliché hologram tool for mounting on a roller

3: Manufacture of foil from this tool

(1) The logo of the partnering packaging manufacturer was converted into an Optically Variable Device. The contrast was made by arranging a pixellated grating pattern, to recreate the outline of the logo in a colorful pattern (see attached images). Due to the possibilities with the mastering procedure, it was possible to also include microscopic text in the logo (name of packaging manufacturer) and a tiny image of a padlock in a size of a few 100 µm, almost indistinguishable to the human eye.

The logo was converted to a digital format and forwarded to a manufacturer of masks for nanofabrication equipment, for use in a typical lithographic process chain. Hereby, a photoresist was spincoated onto a silicon wafer. The mask was used to expose the resist to the pattern design. The resist was developed using a resist solvent, then the exposed areas were etched to create the same pattern in the silicon wafer directly. Finally, the
To many companies counterfeiting is a huge problem. Substandard products sold under strong brand names have a large negative impact on both earnings and brand image, and for some products it even puts peoples’ lives at risk. E.g. in the pharmaceutical industry, where WHO estimates that more than one million people die each year from counterfeit medicines. 700,000 people in Africa die each year as victims of counterfeit malaria or tuberculosis drugs.
These horrific, yet wholly preventable, deaths are a forceful reminder of the necessity to combat counterfeit production. Copied food products are responsible for negative health effects and deaths from contamination, but other effects include pains for European business with respect to intellectual property loss, loss of jobs (more than 200,000 in the US and Europe), manufacturing rework costs, expenses for warranties and returns, etc. An impact of just 1% implies that 2,000 jobs could be created in Europe and the US, with additional hidden values concerning consumer safety.

Executive summary: The market study illustrates a clear and present danger from counterfeiters. Engagement with key pharmaceutical companies, and qualitative feedback, showed overwhelming interest in the sample products. However, current business models and sales strategies must be adjusted from standard flexible packaging approaches to create proper levels of value. A 2nd stage project must establish a business approach where the business models currently employed by the security sticker business segment is leveraged into the flexible packaging business segment. Customer engagement methods must be adjusted accordingly.

The ACfoil production platform has freedom to operate. The platform today depends upon subcontractors for creating large tools, however, equipment investment will change this.

ACfoil reached all technical goals. Two different subcontractors for the same service were used for demo production of holographic polymer film – this eliminates the last single supplier dependencies. Stunning demonstration foil is now available for pitching to possible customer and investors. Further technical development is necessary, to transfer the pilot plant demonstrations to full-scale production facilities.

Preliminary presentations to selected large-name pharmaceutical customers show overwhelming interest, however, a comprehensive implementation and marketing strategy to meet the challenging demands of these players must be developed.
Images used for demonstrating hologram foil to possible end-users.