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Guardian™ Technical Design Guide

The objective of this guide is to assist banknote designers in developing concept design for Guardian™ polymer banknotes. To maximise the benefits of the Guardian™ substrate technology and ensure the final banknote is successful, it is important to understand the key differences between banknote paper and Guardian™ substrate. These differences include:

Guardian™ Banknote Design Philosophy

It is important for the designer to think in integrated multiple layers of substrate, print and applied features, working up from a clear base. By thinking in three dimensions, the designer will be able to balance the front and reverse side designs to ensure they are complementary and reinforcing.

Security Features

Many of the substrate features in Guardian™ are unique to the substrate and differ to banknote paper features. This guide contains design details on each of the substrate features.

Design Tolerances

The design tolerances of Guardian™ substrate differ to banknote paper due to the manufacturing process. In addition, as many of the features are unique to Guardian™ they can be unfamiliar to a designer who is new to Guardian™ banknotes.

Physical Properties

There are a number of important differences in the physical characteristics of banknote paper and Guardian™, a non-porous polymer substrate. These include colour, smoothness, opacity and compressive strength. All of these will impact on design.

The Guardian™ Technical Design Guide is only a basic introduction to Guardian™ banknote design and should be used in conjunction with:

  • Designers' existing knowledge of designing banknotes for paper;
  • Support from PolyTeQ, e.g. design workshops; and
  • The banknote printers’/equipment manufacturers’ recommendations for print tolerances.

This design guide is structured into five key sections:

  • Core Guardian™ Substrate Features
  • Specific Guardian™ Substrate Security Features
  • Printed Offset Features
  • Printed Intaglio Features
  • Accredited Applied Features

Although these features are covered separately, in practice the design of the substrate, print and applied features should be developed as one, to optimise the integration and security of the final banknote. Guardian™ banknote substrate uses opacity to create security, therefore there needs to be more careful consideration to the design of the front and reverse of the note and how each of the substrate and print layers interact. This requires the designer to think in three dimensions more like an architect designing a building, than as a two dimensional drawing.

Each section is supported with a number of guide sheets which contain detailed information on the topic. These guide sheets are regularly updated to capture new developments and advancements in banknote technology.

As this is an evolving document, designers are encouraged to comment and input into this guide, so it remains up-to-date and accurate. Please send feedback to