Wolverhampton, UK-based International Security Printers (ISP) has invested in advanced hybrid print, finishing and inspection systems for barcoding of postage stamps.

As a renowned global security printer, ISP produces high calibre print for a large global client base from production sites in the UK and France. Its work and expertise enable the business to create highly innovative, secure options for industries with high monetary or intellectual value products and services. From security printing, to advanced track and trace and authentication capabilities and ‘tailor-made’ consultancy services, ISP’s wide-ranging and unique products help companies combat fraud to better protect brands and revenues.

ISP has invested in hybrid digital print and finishing for barcoded postage stamps, either in sheets or booklets

Specifically, ISP’s investment in hybrid production will enable postal authorities worldwide to add unique barcodes to stamps and, by doing so, be able to offer their customers more convenient, new services in the future such as track and trace to provide protection against counterfeiting and reuse. The barcodes, which can match stamp colour, sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line.

The fully inline hybrid systems incorporate equipment from selected global specialists, including A B Graphic (ABG), Domino and Lake Image Systems. They are based on two types of machine configuration: one producing sheets of stamps and the other booklets. For sheets, the inline system consists of an ABG non-stop unwinder to automate production by splicing together two rolls of material on the fly, ensuring a non-stop feed of material into an ABG Omega Converter 430. This modular and multi-functional converter houses a four-colour Domino N617i UV inkjet digital print module that prints the stamps and barcodes, inline and in colour. A Lake image Systems inspection system is also integrated and this is surrounded by ABG’s die-cutting and sheeter modules to cut the web down into final sheets. Any sheets with defects are instantly recognised and diverted into a waste compartment for non-compliances, whilst good sheets continue and are fed neatly on to a 2m-long shingle conveyor.

The hybrid system for booklets of postage stamps is along the same lines as the sheet configuration, except for the inclusion of a Domino K600i printer to print barcodes in monochrome, as well as the colour barcodes printed by the N617i engine. A barcode is also printed on the outside of the booklet to identify the stamp barcodes inside. A second ABG die-cutting module is configured as part of this setup for enhanced functionality.

ABG global sales director Matt Burton commented, ‘For postal stamp applications, this is the first time that various key industry parties have joined together to provide hybrid print and finishing solutions. All manufacturers have been fully on board throughout the project, wanting to see a successful conclusion. Clearly we are all delighted that both systems are now fit for purpose and we look forward to seeing ISP rolling out the initiative.’

ISP managing director Ian Brigham said, ‘We are proud to part of a monumental change in the history and fortunes of the postage stamp. The coming together of experienced print and finishing specialists to create these systems has been both unique and impressive – our thanks to them for a job well done.’