In this new award category, the joint winners were the industry’s two manufacturers of banknote production equipment.

First was the Laika series from Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions, intended to explore and push the boundaries of what is possible in design and production. The design theme was space, and the series took its name from Laika, the first animal (a dog) to orbit the earth in the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2, launched into outer space 1957, that paved the way for human spaceflight.

The series comprises a family of five specimen notes, which was the result of several partnerships within the high security printing industry – including with De La Rue, LenSys, Louisenthal, Lumenco, SICPA, Kurz, PurintoMark, NPA, and PWPW.

The preliminary ideation and design work for these notes was given to a class of young design students in order to spark creativity and bring fresh perspectives and ideas. When viewed in ascending order, the notes illustrate the solar system in its entirety, from Mercury to Pluto. This idea was taken further with the colours continuing from one banknote to another.

The designs were then ‘banknotised’, whereby the preliminary designs were turned into designs that could be produced and circulate in the cash cycle. The boundaries of technology were pushed as far as possible, while ensuring efficient production, minimising waste, and making machine readability a flawless process.

While each denomination is usually printed on one sheet, for the Laika series several designs were combined on one sheet, dramatically reducing the need for job changeovers and limiting waste.

The full series of five specimens was divided into only two sheets using two different substrates (the three lowest on polymer and the highest on cotton paper).

Both new and proven security features were integrated throughout, including the advanced UV feature SUSI Flip™, SUSI Optics™, which combines three printing processes and currently offers up to 19 different effects to choose from, and the see-though feature SimMark™, made with a special ink called PurintoMark™  which is  applied with the NotaScreen machine to create transparency where the feature is located, making it more visible even under dim light.

The new generation of SPARK®, namely SPARK Flow® with its two variants (PRIME and DIMENSION), were also used.

Intaglio was  applied on both sides of each specimen, including tactile marks specifically developed for the visually impaired community.

To ensure optimal machine readability while keeping production efficient, embedded features such as magnetic and coded security threads, as well as applied intaglio features such as IR-A/IR-T pairs, SICPA’s NEOMAG® and SICPATALK® were integrated into the design, as were Galaxy® threads from Louisenthal, an APL diffractive patch from KURZ and multi-directional latent images, among others.