Developments in new anti-counterfeit technologies will help support the growth of holograms in 2024, according to Dr. Paul Dunn, chair of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA).

Micro-lenses, micro-mirrors, and plasmonics are among the rapidly emerging optical devices that have evolved on the back of holographic and diffractive technologies and are seen as part of the natural evolution of optical science by R&D teams.

Crane’s MOTION® (micro-lens array) on the $100 banknote

In turn, these technologies require new foils, different manufacturing processes and different originating technologies to get them fully to market and achieve commercial viability. This opens up more opportunity for savvy hologram manufacturers to secure additional market share and demonstrate how holography continues to secure new applications and remains a relevant technology. 

Giesecke & Devrient’s micro-mirrors combined with colour-shifting thin film coatings

However, manufacturers and their R&D teams in the coming months will need to assess the viability of these nascent technologies and challenge themselves to come up with a new generation of authentication and anti-counterfeiting technologies for traditional applications.

Dr Paul Dunn said: “What’s clear is that the speed of technical evolution is increasing and developments in digital technologies are probably the most significant to impact the future of anti-counterfeiting solutions in 2024 and beyond – a view supported by many in the optical devices sector.

“We will continue to see optical technologies merging with digital solutions and greater levels of optical security by combining technology functions. I feel this presents a strong future with holograms continuing to be a key component, reflecting how they are evolving, developing, and finding new commercial outlets.”

Holographic authentication and track and trace systems will continue to help underpin international efforts by government and law enforcement agencies to bolster overt and covert protection strategies beyond the next 12 months.

Dr Dunn said: “Counterfeiting is a massive global threat, continually placing governments, brands, and the public at risk—and will continue to be tackled effectively to minimise the impact on society. Despite the continued economic, social, and global supply chain challenges, we expect to see growth in 2024 with countries enhancing and bringing forward their anti-counterfeiting plans which feature holograms.

“Again, these holograms will become even more integrated with other technologies to create intuitive brand engagement programmes while simultaneously, authentication through scanning a QR code on the label acts as a secondary product verification method. This provides unified and easy-to-use platforms for brands to interact and engage with their customers.”

The convergence of physical and digital worlds (e.g., the metaverse) is also gathering pace and investments are being made in metaverse-related technologies, including holographic display components that will play a significant role in bringing the metaverse to fruition, providing new ways in which people can share information, communicate, and embrace virtual worlds.

High security print applications will continue to increase, as holography origination capabilities are brought in-house, cutting the innovation cycle and allowing security printers to get their technologies specified for new currency work.

Sustainability will also continue to be a priority in 2024 with manufacturers investing more and more in strategies to cut carbon footprint as part of their corporate responsibility strategies, with the IHMA leading efforts through its Sustainability Working Group to encourage best practice by sharing information and showcasing companywide initiatives.

Dr Dunn added: “As holography continues to develop to remain relevant and push the boundaries of possibility, the IHMA will remain at the forefront of the sector in 2024. We will continue to evolve like the exciting technologies we represent to ensure the interests of members and manufacturers are to the fore and their voices heard.”

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Paul Dunn is chairman of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association. He has been involved in the Optical Security industry for 30 years with an array of experience in teaching and technology development, and is currently Director of Technology Innovation at OpSec Security Ltd.

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