Bowater under water?

Small news that Bowater Industries, large British anti-counterfeiting holograms manufacturer, undergoes financial restructuring, did not attract big attention. However, it should do because it is not just interesting information about a particular company but rather about the entire industry.

Bowater did not produce cheap first-generation holograms that are now offered by hundreds of companies. Bowater manufactures volume holograms. This technology is not so highly resistant against imitation as e-beam lithography but creates more distinctive visual effects. Holograms market is growing. Authentication technology market is growing. So where is the problem?

We don’t have any information about specific management failings in Bowater. But there is one point that doubtless contributed to the problematic situation of the company. Bowater brought a breakthrough innovation. Customers could buy a machine of a size of a fridge, plug it in and produce their holograms. They could even produce a master hologram using other Bowater´s appliance.

It may look amazing. You can save cost on anticounterfeiting protection. You don’t need to coordinate production process across suppliers. Risk of holograms theft during transportation is eliminated. But you don’t know many other organisations are equipped with the same machine and what they use it for. Anything you can produce, somebody else also can. Even if the fake is not precisely identical, some similarity can confuse users. How reliable is authentication based on such protection elements on ID cards? Would you rely on personal identity and product genuine?

Disbelief can go even further. Your holograms are vulnerable, o.k. And holograms produced by Bowater Industries?

Proven wisdom says that difficult and costly production is among key benefits in the anti-counterfeit protection technology market. It is true for ID cards, documents and any other protected items. It is a reason why there is a huge demand for e-beam lithography protection elements. Diffraction gratings of e-beam lithography holograms are created with electron stream thousand times narrower than the light beam, using mathematic algorithms unique for each manufacturer. New players need years to master this technology even if there are equipped with expensive sophisticated machinery.

At the end of the day, the volume holograms producers will need to decide about their future. They can follow 3D printing and move towards cheaper and available elements, with the final vision of holograms produced in each small company and household. Such future may be definitely interesting. They also can move towards more sophisticated technology combined with other elements and create a new inaccessible generation of holograms for critical items such ID cards (identity cards). In fact, some of the producers have already started this way.

Bowater Industries may become a financially successful company again. Nobody can avoid dilemma with a focus on available elements and focus on expensive, sophisticated elements.


Optaglio concentrates on advanced, sophisticated holograms, based on its philosophy to focus on highest security even if it is more costly.

This attitude covers:

Continuous innovation to keep the advantage over potential falsifiers.

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