Optically variable ink

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50 euro note details, seen from different angles. "50" was printed with OVI.
Optically variable ink used in popular USB drives that are often subject to counterfeiting. Taken from 2 different angles.

Optically variable ink (OVI) also called color shifting ink is an anti-counterfeiting measure used on many major modern banknotes, as well as on other official documents (professional licenses, for example).

The ink displays two distinct colors depending on the angle the bill is viewed at. The United States fifty-dollar bill, for example, uses color shifting ink for the numeral 50 so that it displays copper at one angle and bright green in another.[1]

OVI is particularly useful as an anti-counterfeiting measure as it is not widely available, and it is used on security printing. One major manufacturer is a Swiss company called SICPA (Société Industrielle et Commerciale de Produits pour l'Agriculture). Additional suppliers include German company Gleitsmann Security Inks, Sun Chemical (through their Brand Protection Division based in Manchester, UK), and the Swiss company Printcolor Screen AG, located in Berikon, Switzerland.

Color-shifting inks reflect various wavelengths in white light differently, depending on the angle of incidence to the surface. An unaided eye will observe this effect as a change of color while the viewing angle is changed. A color copier or scanner can copy a document only at one fixed angle relative to the document's surface.[2] It uses finely powdered pearlescent glitter.

Optically Variable Magnetic Ink[edit]

Optically Variable Magnetic Ink (OVMI), also called as SPARK[3] has visual effects that are based on the magnetic properties of an optically variable magnetic ink. When the document is tilted, the effect of a bright light stripe movement occurs and the colour changes. Usually printed by screen printing. That type of ink is used for Euro,[4] Brazilian real[5] and Russian ruble banknotes.[6]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-10-16. Retrieved 2006-07-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ http://www.icao.int/mrtdsymposium/2007/Docs/DIS_ICAO_Montreal_Presentation%202007_final.pdf
  4. ^ "Security features Europa series €100 banknote". ECB.
  6. ^ "Banknotes". CBR.