A New Era – Polymer Currency Notes: 1988 Onwards
How are Australia's Currency Notes Made?
Design work includes the development of images and security features. Detailed artwork, including large-scale line drawings, is required for portraits and other design themes.
When completed, the designs are transferred to printing plates. These plates carry up to 60 images of the note, depending on the size of the note to be printed.
A clear laminated polymer film is the basis of the note.
The film is made opaque (opacified) by the application of special inks, except for certain areas that result in clear windows or other features.
Printing & Finishing
In this process, printing plates, polymer substrate, special inks and high technology printing machinery are brought together to produce the currency notes.
Colourful background designs are printed simultaneously with both sides of the opacified polymer substrate using an offset printing process which results in a flat print.
Major design elements such as portraits are printed next. This is carried out by a process called intaglio printing using engraved metal plates.
Separate print runs are required for each side of the note. The raised print that results is one of the security features of the currency notes.
Serial numbers are added using the letterpress printing process. On our polymer notes, each 'number' has a prefix of two letters and two numbers, followed by six numbers. The two numbers in the prefix indicate the year of manufacture.
The notes are given two coats of a protective overcoating or varnish. This helps keep them clean and enhances their durability.
The printed sheets of notes are then guillotined, counted and imperfect or soiled notes removed.
The finished notes are then shrink wrapped and stored in strong rooms prior to distribution by armoured car companies.