What You Can't See Is What You Get

New infrared tags fight counterfeiting.

By Anastasia Thrift
Managing Editor

Creating the inks, taggants, and readers for a covert infrared (IR) coding solution could strengthen the security for pharmaceutical packaging.

Alphanumeric codes can be printed in infrared ink from Sun Chemical, adding serialization to security measures.

Sun Chemical (Parsippany, NJ) has created a proprietary solution called Verigard. The system centers around small amounts of taggant added to any ink, varnish, or adhesive. All can be authenticated with the company’s proprietary V400 reader.

The company says their method differs slightly from other readers. The setup provides an additional level of security.

“It’s a complex algorithm,” says Jim Reiman, manager for brand protection. “Taggant, reader, ink, and substrate are precisely tuned to act as a lock and key for very high security.”

“The V400 uses a very sophisticated algorithm to authenticate the Verigard signature in just fractions of a second. Some competing technologies are more easily fooled or blinded by counterfeiters who have learned how to beat the system.”

The way that Verigard readers process information is sophisticated and complex. Many other infra red tags, Reiman says, use a simple algorithm that is easy to defeat.

“It really is a lock and key between the taggant, the way we tune the reader and the substrate,” Reiman continues. “Usually with the IR you have a narrow spectrum, a certain number of unique taggants. We fixed that by making the authentic signature look very specific against the background graphics. With our reader, we can distinguish the same taggant in multiple inks, varnishes or adhesives.”

Unlike other security providers, Sun Chemical maintains complete control of their taggants and does not ship to third party ink manufacturers.

“When a security company ships taggant to a third-party ink manufacturer or printer, and the ink is made up, and there’s an error—who get’s blamed?” Reiman asks.

Because Sun Chemical delivers press-ready ink solutions, it maintains the chain of custody integrity, which can be crucial to avoiding counterfeiters.

“We use the same taggant when we do ink-jet printing,” Reiman says. “We can do that in any conventional print process such as offset, screen, and CIJ.”

Customers will not have to retool to use the technology. When Verigard is used with ink-jet printers, the unique identifiers are called Vericode.

“Vericode allows us to use variable data,” Reiman says. “You can make every item different. That’s where serialization comes in. What we do with Vericode is print a completely invisible ink-jet mark. Really invisible so no one knows it’s there. You can do it right over the image on the carton.”

Printing over existing graphics lets packagers maximize their label space. It also makes duplicating or obliterating the code more difficult for diverters. A special reader, called the V500, is used to see Vericode markings.

The code can be a 2-D barcode and/or an alphanumeric sequence. This further protects the product from counterfeiting.
In addition to marking labels, Vericode can be used for direct product marking. ■

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