In the first part of the article, it was stated that counterfeiting of industrial machines parts is a big issue for the entire manufacturing industry. Corporations spend huge resources on anti-counterfeit protection measures and campaigns. There are some results but no big improvement has been seen until now. It was also stated that there were two basic anti-counterfeiting strategies – marking parts and following their move through distribution channels. The complete text of the first part is available here.
Building a computer system and processes for following of part „traveling“ through distribution channels helps. However, it is laboursame and expensive, and it does not create a full guarantee of genuineness. Parts are still not banknotes. It is no wonder that there is still a big interest in technologies for marking rather parts itself than packaging.
RFIDs. Possibility to record more information than a part history is among key benefits. The problem is that it is too easy to take off RFID from a protected part and put it on another one.
Security stickers. Each attempt for its removal results in irreversible destruction. Vulnerability towards abrasion and other external influences are among disadvantages, together with easy imitability.
Holographic stickers. They are still vulnerable towards external influences but it is very difficult (or impossible) to imitate them, provided the holograms are advanced and tailored for a particular component producer. Currently prevailing dot matrix holograms can be imitated relatively easily.
What else? French Proftaag cover protected item with a layer of transparent plastic with bubbles.
A picture is taken and a unique mutual position of bubbles is kept in a database. Each part is now unique and can be identified any time later. It is not bad however the users still face a big issue. If you keep a machine part in your hands, you can say nothing about its genuineness as long as you don’t have access to the database. End users are still helpless. Moreover, the adhesivity of the plastic used is limited. It simply does not hold on some materials.
Can be genuineness confirmed with microholograms?
OPTAGLIO is a Czech company, a key player in the global holographic market for about 20 years. It uses e-beam lithography technology to ensure that its holograms cannot be imitated (diffraction gratings parameters cannot be derived from a ready hologram). OPTAGLIO don’t security elements are used in more than 50 countries around the world, mostly for protection on banknotes, passports, ID cards etc.
A few years ago, OPTAGLIO patented microholograms, metallic particles of a size from 40 micrometers. They can be explained as tiny grains of metal, with hologram and letters engraved. Microholograms are added into lacker, paint or other surface material. They can be also added to a substrate such as holographic paper or holographic plastic foil.
Microholograms enable several levels of inspection. You can see subtle metallic dust by a naked eye. You can learn that all particles have the same shape, letters engraved, and holographic surface with a magnifiers. With a microscope, you can see special visual effects and you can illuminate a microhologram with different color light from different sides and angles. Forensic analysis can be also based on microholograms to decide about the genuineness of a part used in a machine.
Possibilities are thus virtually unlimited, in terms of inspection and ways of application. Microhologram can even survive in most of the engines because melting temperature of nickel is 1450°C.
Nobody can reliably forecast future of component marking and role of microholograms. Until now, they have been used mostly for document protection. But it is possible that in a few years, a part will be got out from a machine, searched under a magnifier and it will be stated: „It has been really made in Kovosvit.“