Anti-Counterfeiting Ink

Anti-Counterfeiting Ink

Anti-counterfeiting ink is a covert security feature which uses ink that is invisible unless illuminated by a particular wavelength of light. The effect is usually reversible, with the ink becoming invisible again within one or two minutes of being exposed to normal light.

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Advantages of anti-counterfeiting ink

User friendly

Anti-counterfeiting ink is user friendly and manifests very quickly. One type of anti-counterfeiting ink commonly used is luminescent ink. This type of ink uses several different colors to generate a full color image when illuminated. Lanthanide compounds are also commonly used in security inks due to their high quantum yields and long lasting nature.

Source tracing

Apart from providing information to the consumers, anti-counterfeiting ink can also provide a method by which a product can be traced,  from the manufacturer to the retail supplier. This property is very useful, as it can allow manufacturers to accurately and quickly identify faulty products and where they are arising in the supply chain.


There has been a recent surge in the selling and reselling of spoilt or contaminated dairy and food products. Use of inks which cannot be removed or indelible can be an economical, effective, and fast way to ensure that counterfeit products do not enter the supply chain.

Optical properties of anti-counterfeiting ink

Anti-counterfeiting ink can exhibit changes in color when viewed from different directions. These specific color changes can be used as specific markers for different batches of items.

They may be used as an overt image visible on the surface or a covert design in the security seal, and may require microscopic evaluation to authenticate the graphic patterns made using this ink. They can be applied as multiple layers to create a structure with specific diffractive properties, and color transitions. These inks are available only from specialized pigment suppliers.

Overt features

Anti-counterfeiting inks are used in the packaging of medical drugs, devices, food, and drinks. This is commonly carried out using specific graphic designs, such as line modulation and embossing. Several covert image elements can also be added to a products’ packaging, including microtext and latent images

Anti-counterfeiting ink for medical devices

An anti-counterfeiting method employed in the medical industry is the use of nano-coating technology, where ink is used to form an irremovable coating on the package. This coating cannot be removed by chemical treatments or physical damage. This is also a covert method to ensure the authenticity of the packaging of medical device, drug, or food item.


  • Anti-counterfeiting ink for enhancing product authenticity and traceability.
  • Anti-counterfeit Technologies for the Protection of Medicines. WHO Report.
  • A New Anti‐Counterfeiting Feature Relying on Invisible Luminescent Full Color Images Printed with Lanthanide‐Based Inks. Wiley Online Library.

Further Reading

  • All Anti-Counterfeit Technology Content
  • Anti-Counterfeiting Technology for Biomaterials
  • Anti-Counterfeiting Technology for Medical Devices
  • Anti-Counterfeit Techniques for Herbal Supplements

Last Updated: Aug 24, 2018

Written by

Dr. Surat P

Dr. Surat graduated with a Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Mechanobiology from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (Mumbai, India) in 2016. Prior to her Ph.D., Surat studied for a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Zoology, during which she was the recipient of anIndian Academy of SciencesSummer Fellowship to study the proteins involved in AIDs. She produces feature articles on a wide range of topics, such as medical ethics, data manipulation, pseudoscience and superstition, education, and human evolution. She is passionate about science communication and writes articles covering all areas of the life sciences.  

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