September 15, 2006 Xerox Corporation scientists have developed a digital printing font so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to read it. The new MicroText Specialty Imaging Font, just 1/100th of an inch high, is designed to help make valuable documents with personal information such as birth certificates, personal identification papers, and checks even harder to forge. Microscopic words are already hidden in the design of credit cards, checks and currency as a deterrent to counterfeiting. For instance, the "dots" in the border next to Andrew Jackson's right shoulder on current US$20 bills are really the tiny words "The United States of America 20 USA 20 USA." Now Xerox's innovation carries microprinting to the next level because it can make important documents more secure by individualizing the tiny letters and numbers.
Today, the signature line on some personal checks is actually the super-small words "authorized signature" written over and over on the offset-printed blank check stock. But when a digital printer is used, any element on the page - lines, text, images - can be unique to the recipient. Combine that with the new Xerox MicroText font, and your name and address could be repeated to form the signature line. Or companies and government agencies that issue checks - pay checks, rebate checks, Social Security checks, etc. -- could print the amount of the check in mouse-size type as well as in a normal-size font.
"Microprinting variable information makes individualized documents - whether they are birth certificates or drivers licenses or pay checks or transcripts - even more time-consuming to replicate," said Reiner Eschbach, a research fellow in the Xerox Innovation Group. "Adding that extra layer of security is a barrier to counterfeiters and makes the document more secure."
The new Xerox font takes advantage of improvements in digital printing technology and the ever better image quality delivered by the current generation of Xerox digital printers. The microscopic printing is so fine that when a 100-page book is converted to the MicroText font, it can be printed on a standard 8.5 in. by 11 in. (216 mm by 279 mm) sheet of paper.
Microprinting is one of several specialty imaging technologies Xerox scientists have developed making it easier for a suspicious recipient to tell which checks, certificates, or other printed materials are authentic. The new specialty font was unveiled in the new Xerox FreeFlow Variable Information Suite 5.0, software that Xerox sells to commercial printers that produce personalized documents.