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Spartan️: tougher, ultra‑durable, cost‑effective banknotes for the note/coin boundary

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Spartan banknotes look and feel like traditional banknotes, but are tougher and stronger in circulation

CCL Secure explores how its new formulation of bank-grade polymer and ink technologies, SpartanTM, focuses on extreme durability and offers an imaginative, ultra-durable, efficient, sustainable and cost-effective solution.

As central banks have become increasingly attentive to the costs associated with issuing banknotes and managing the cash cycle, an ongoing problem is denominations that have very high transaction velocities and short working lives in circulation. There is often pressure to coin these notes, but this is a difficult decision to make that involves many different stakeholders as well as some risks. 

Although coins have extended lifecycles, there are negative public perceptions that can lead to the very real risk of involuntary hoarding. This negative public perception can be especially strong in regions where everyday clothing often doesn’t feature pockets. In addition, a move to coin requires a high capital outlay in the first year of release. Higher metal prices can also make it attractive to the public to smelt coins, resulting in a financial loss to central banks.

By approaching this problem with a clear focus on durability, CCL Secure has developed Spartan. Working closely with sister company Innovia Films, an entirely new formulation of bank-grade polymer and new ink technologies have been created specifically for denominations that sit on the cusp of the note/coin boundary. 

The polymer core used for Spartan is different to the ClarityTM C core used in CCL Secure’s long-established and highly successful GuardianTM substrate. While the Spartan core is still produced by Innovia using a unique and controlled bubble process that provides inherent security, the film itself is thicker, thus making it tougher. And, unlike the transparent Clarity C film used for Guardian, Spartan is white.  

To make the most of the new material, all the inks and protective layers used in the production of Spartan banknotes have been developed from the ground up. So, although Spartan looks and feels very much like a traditional banknote, it has exceptional toughness and strength in circulation.

In fact, in laboratory tests, Spartan lasts up to eight times longer than paper, which makes it more cost-effective over both the short and long terms.  

To cultivate public acceptance of the new note, Spartan can be used with existing banknote infrastructure and processing equipment. The banknotes can also be designed to include machine-readable features that are compatible with common note acceptance equipment, such as vending machines and other point of sale equipment.  

To create a Spartan banknote, multiple printed layers are applied, using a design created with traditional banknote design techniques. State-of-the-art origination, tooling and printing processes are then used to translate the design into the finished product. However, unlike traditional banknotes – which are printed using multiple different processes in series of steps – Spartan can be printed in a single pass.  

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In lab tests, Spartan lasts up to eight times longer than paper


This one-pass production process means all the various design elements, security features, serial numbers and protective layers are applied in a single inline process. Consequently, the Spartan production process – including guillotining, packing and provisioning a full manifest with a unique serial number for each note – is highly efficient and very cost-effective.

At the end of its lifecycle, a Spartan note continues to be useful. Like a Guardian polymer note, it can be recycled into polypropylene pellets, which find their way into a wide range of new products – from garden furniture to construction materials.

By focusing on the need for exceptional durability, CCL Secure’s Spartan team has engineered a solution that is imaginative, ultra-durable, efficient, sustainable and cost-effective.

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