Paper Money

BEP new process research and development ongoing, no specifics to share

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing will not discuss details of a new printing process referenced recently by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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One of the comments made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a New York Times article on June 11 was that “redesigning the currency required developing complicated anti-counterfeiting technology and a new printing process, which takes many years.”

Coin World asked the Bureau of Engraving and Printing if it could provide details on any new printing processes under development. Secretary Mnuchin may have been premature in his statement, because the BEP says, “We really don’t have any specifics to share at this moment.”

Spokesperson Lydia Washington explained that the BEP could not discuss Mnuchin’s revelation “because our security feature R&D is ongoing, which means lots and lots of testing is still happening.”

Ms. Washington added that more than just new security features were under development, telling Coin World on June 18, “To stay ahead of counterfeiters, R&D is ongoing at BEP with both security features, substrate elements, and printing processes.”

She added, “Let me reiterate that there are no delays with the redesign, and security feature development dictates the redesign timeline. U.S. currency is very distinctive, and as new, proprietary, technologically advanced, and unique features are being developed for current and future incorporation into US currency, new equipment for printing those features and application processes for those features are also being explored, developed, and tested (a good example is the 3D Blue Ribbon in the $100). Each denomination has its own security feature requirements and any feature for US currency must be effective and able to withstand high-capacity, high-speed manufacturing.

There is one change ahead that can be counted on. The BEP is developing a raised tactile feature (RTF) to help the blind and visually impaired to identify notes. The feature is intended to appear on the first denomination released in the next redesign. This will most likely be the $10 note in 2026. Although the denominating scheme has been narrowed, the feature and a possible application method for putting it onto the currency paper remains in testing.

The RTF was approved by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on May 31, 2011, for all denominations for which changes are allowed by law. U.S. law at present prohibits any changes to the $1 Federal Reserve note. The same directive authorized continuing the program of adding large high-contrast numerals and different colors to each denomination that the BEP is permitted by law to alter.

It is unlikely that the substrate will change to polymer, but innovations can still be made with the traditional 75 percent cotton, 25 percent linen composition that has long been the U.S. standard.

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