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AGFA, ID Caster Form Joint Venture to Sell Equipment for High Security Documents

Press release from the issuing company

Mortsel (Belgium), 22.08.2001 - Agfa-Gevaert N.V. (Mortsel, Belgium), Allitech-ID (Paris, France) and ID Caster (Saint Remy La Vanne, France) have established a joint venture, named IDENTIS. The joint venture will concentrate on the manufacture, marketing and sale of equipment for the production of high security identification documents (such as identity cards, driver's licences, polling cards) as well as all consumables for the production of the identification documents themselves. The product range will mainly be sold to systems integrators, companies that offer their clients - the responsible authorities in the various countries - a complete system for high security ID cards. Apart from equipment for the actual manufacturing and personalisation of the cards, the system includes software and hardware for databases, secure systems for card requests and distribution and systems for automatic card reading and control. The Agfa contribution comprises its unique DTR-technology (see infra) and security laminates; ID Caster has developed the highly efficient production equipment. Allitech-ID has built a portfolio of contacts in the market for over 30 years and is therefore the ideal marketing channel for the activities of the joint venture. Each of the three companies has a long track record in the ID-card industry and all are confident that the products, which are to be marketed by IDENTIS, fully meet the most stringent security requirements of the latest generation of ID-cards. A corporate structure has already been put in place to begin marketing the products immediately. The market for high security identification documents is growing rapidly with the current number of card holders estimated at over 2 billion. Pierre Cassan, Managing Director of the new joint venture says: "IDENTIS with its unique technology must be able to obtain, within five years, a 10% market share of all newly issued ID-cards." Patrick Van Loon, General Manager of the Business Group Industrial Imaging at Agfa adds: "Our participation in IDENTIS will strengthen our market position in ID-card production even further." Agfa's participation will enable Agfa's Business Group Industrial Imaging to expand its highly profitable business in high security identification documents. Agfa has also obtained an exclusive contract for the supply of consumables to IDENTIS. About IDENTIS products and technology The IDENTIS system for the production of ID-cards consists of highly reliable, compact equipment that produces, in one pass and without human intervention, fully finished ID documents at a rate of up to 1,800 documents per hour. The cards are produced at a very favourable cost when comparing the price per unit with the very high security levels achieved. One machine can produce and personalise up to 8 million cards per year if operated in two shifts for 250 days per year. Starting from security pre-printed inserts on paper or plastic with similar security printing to bank notes (e.g. guiloches, micro text), the system digitally applies personalised identification information on both sides of the card (photo, text, signature, barcode, fingerprint, etc). It is then possible to add security marks such as ultraviolet prints and holograms. The system laminates the card providing a very tight bond and because the cardholder's information is carried between the card's multiple layers, forgery is almost impossible. Attempts to open the protection laminate, which is able to contain a number of different security characteristics, will inevitably destroy the information and leave ineradicable marks. Thanks to the transfer process, Agfa's DTR (diffusion transfer reversal) technology provides extremely high security. The card holder's picture is digitally entered by the manufacturing device, creating a "temporary" photo negative. Through contact, the negative image is transferred to the actual card in such a way that the image appears beside the pre-printed security lines of the security print. As a result, the lines run visibly over the face, making forgery easily detectable. DTR is the only technology that can provide this process. The colour or black and white pictures are of such high quality that the visual or automatic recognition and comparison with the card holder is extremely accurate. Other personalised information on the ID card is applied using several techniques such as diffusion transfer, inkjet printing and laser engraving, depending on the requirements of the issuing countries. The card is available in a number of sizes from credit card size to larger formats, and can accommodate a contact chip or a contactless chip, which makes the system suitable for the latest generation of ID cards. In addition to the readable personal data information on the card, the chip can hold other information such as a digital signature. The highly robust plastic card contains environment friendly plastic materials, which have a lifetime much longer than the 10 years normally required.