How Notes Are Printed

Security and Controls

Strict security and quality control measures are enforced at every stage of the production process. An established system of control is put in place to ensure that all material used, work in progress, the printed notes and spoilage are fully accounted for.

Designing and Origination

The first stage in the creation of a currency note is design. Based on the artworks provided by MAS, the printer will convert the designs together with different graphic elements (carefully assembled using a special computer system) into original digital files containing all the security elements incorporated in a currency note. The origination files are printed out on high-resolution inkjet printers as "Digital Proof Prints", which are then submitted to MAS for preliminary approval. Changes may then be made speedily using computers before the actual engraving and plate-making processes begin.


Once the "Digital Proof Prints" are approved by MAS, the mass-production process begins with the making of the printing plates. For lithographic printing, the first step is to separate the different design elements from each other using a computer-aided method. The background designs for the simultaneous printing of both the front and back of the notes are separated for printing. The digital files that were used to produce the Digital Proof Prints are then sent to a high-precision laser equipment, which produces the plates used for offset printing and the mother plates for the intaglio printing process. Printing plates are then made from these mother plates by an elaborate multi-stage process.


The paper or polymer substrate supplied for the currency notes is in sheet form of 28 to 60 single notes, depending on the denomination. At each successive stage of the printing process, the printing substrate stock is subject to rigorous counting to ensure that every single sheet is accounted for.

Sheets of currency notes are produced by five separate and different printing processes. The substrate sheets are first run through a high-speed rotary process, which prints a series of smooth, intricate, multi-coloured background tints and designs on the front and back of the notes during a single pass of the substrate through the machine. This process is known as lithographic printing or offset printing. Perfect registration of the design elements on each side is achieved by this process.

The second stage incorporates the intaglio print on the back of the notes. This process produces subtle tonal variations with remarkable fineness of details. The substrate is brought into contact with the plate under pressure and ink is transferred to produce a very distinctive three dimensional relief-type representation and print lines which feel rough to the touch. The incredible precision of the intaglio can also be used to produce extra-small printing. To the naked eye, this appears as a line; but when viewed through a magnifying glass, the lines are actually texts in micro-print.

In the case of paper notes, after the back intaglio printing, the Kinegram is applied on the currency sheet using a die of the intended size of optical device depending on the denomination. The application of the Kinegram is a hot-stamping process where temperature and pressure are applied to paper substrate.

After the hot-stamping process, the currency sheet is ready for the front intaglio printing. The process is similar to the back intaglio printing.

Two sets of serial numbers are printed on each note by the letterpress method.


In the case of polymer substrate, the currency notes are varnished as an additional protection to the finished products.


The last step in the production of currency notes is the finishing. In this phase, the fully printed sheets are first counted in sheets of 100 before being cut into single notes. Each note is then fed into a quality inspection machine and checked for flaws. Notes that do not meet the required quality standard are sieved out. Notes that passed the quality inspection process are banded into sections of 100. Ten sections are combined and counted before being strapped and shrink-wrapped in bundles of 1,000 notes. These bundles are packed into carton boxes for delivery.

Last Modified on 26/11/2016