Sessions » The future of polycarbonate

The future of polycarbonate

Knowledge Theatre
Wednesday 27 June


Is laser engraving still secure?

Françoise Chabut, Key Program Coordinator, Gemalto, France

Polycarbonate documents are known to be the most secure, thanks to laser personalization directly within the structure of the document. Indeed, all personal data and secure elements are sealed inside a solid monolithic structure that is impossible to delaminate.

However, since their introduction 30 years ago, polycarbonate documents now face multiple attacks, such as grinding from the back to replace personal data, or applying a laminate to alter the portrait. 

In addition, second-hand lasers are easily available on the market, lowering the barrier to entry for fraudsters to be able to personalize stolen blank documents.

Duplicating personal data in the document, through various methods, has been one way to address the risks. As a result, multiple personalized security features are available, using more and more advanced technologies, many of which are proprietary to documents manufacturers. 

Authentication requires controllers to cross-check multiple elements and assess the authenticity of the document and holder’s data. This also means they should know how to inspect the features. Adequate training or sufficient reference material are often missing. And yet, document authentication must be performed within a few seconds.

This presentation will review the authentication challenges and counterfeiting attacks faced in the field. Some best practices and improvements will be discussed.


  • Polycarbonate documents are known to be the most secure ID documents; however, they face a growing number of attacks
  • Multiple security features are developing to cover the risk, often unknown by officers, and generating other challenges;
  • Improved photo protection is needed, while authentication should remain easy and fast for officers.

Fraud on polycarbonate documents: Trends and technical answers from a manufacturer
Joachim Caillosse, Product Manager – ID and Travel Documents, Imprimerie Nationale Group, France

Latest observations show that typical methods to imitate or modify documents have become more sophisticated, while the time available for controlling them has decreased, and automated controls or assistance have developed. These trends drive the increasing adoption of polycarbonate as the base substrate for most newly issued physical credentials.

This presentation will present an overview of typical fraud attempts seen in the field (how identity and travel document fraud is being perpetrated in the real world today) – and underline the evolution of control conditions (available time and means).

The technical challenge is to be able to mitigate fraud in advance through the application of an accurate mix of technologies securing the physical documents. Emphasis will be placed on objectives and best practices in the design and manufacture of a highly secured polycarbonate credential, to make it uniquely identifiable and enable quicker detection by various stakeholders, in different situations.

A selection of smart security features and technologies will also be proposed. Some are new and innovative, some are not; but all are effective options for raising the bar against modern counterfeiting or falsification, and making fraud detection easier for the authorities.

  • Overview of typical fraud attempts seen in the field; evolution of control conditions;
  • Objectives and best practices for a highly secure polycarbonate credential;
  • Effective options for raising the bar against fraud and enabling easier detection.

The art of identity protection – A revolution in the protection of polycarbonate documents
Robert Dvorák, Business Development Director, IQ Structures, Czech Republic

This presentation will introduce a revolutionary approach to the protection of polycarbonate identification documents. The latest developments in complex optical security features for polycarbonate documents will be shown. The performance of proprietary origination technologies and their ability to create highly sophisticated overt and covert security features will be discussed.

  • Combination of printed and holographic elements in polycarbonate documents;
  • Synergy of beauty and protection;
  • Revolution in the protection of polycarbonate documents.

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