Product piracy: glass marking fights counterfeiting

LZH logo and chessboard pattern with diffractive structures (Photo: LZH).

For the last few years, the rate of counterfeiting has been increasing in almost all areas. Apart from financial losses in the billions, counterfeited medications can be fatal. For this reason, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) is working on a flexible marking and identification process which, among other things, can be used to make medications in glass ampules counterfeit-proof.

Using a robust and industrially established marking laser, it will be possible to both individually and quickly mark products with a distinct certificate of authenticity. This can be done during the packaging process. This is the vision of the project GLaSIDeE. Scientists at the LZH are working on a process for anti-counterfeit marking on both flat and curved glass surfaces.

Unique fingerprints
The laser marking process can be used to generate decorative writing, a number, or a two-dimensional bar code directly in the glass. The markings are only a few nanometers deep. Flexibility is the main advantage, since each part can be individually marked, for example with a serial number, without effort or extra costs.

Up to now, there has been no clear identification process for markings on glass. Thus, in this project a special process should be developed with which each part is given its own individual fingerprint. The LZH is also developing a reading process for invisible markings. In combination with each other, they will be able to reach a higher anti-counterfeit rate than conventional processes.

The project „Glass Marking using the Laser as a Safety, Identification and Design Element“ (GLaSIDeE) is subsidized by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy within the Central Innovation program for Middle-sized Businesses.

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Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH)

As an independent, non-profit research institute, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) stands for innovative research, development and consulting. The LZH is supported by the Lower Saxony Ministry for Economics, Labour and Transport and is dedicated to the selfless promotion of applied research in the field of photonics and laser technology. Founded in 1986, over 170 employees are now working for the LZH.

The focus of the LZH lies on the fields of optical components and systems, optical production technologies, and biomedical photonics. Interdisciplinary cooperation between natural scientists and mechanical engineers makes innovative approaches to challenges from the most different areas possible: from the development of components for specific laser systems to process developments for the most diverse laser applications, for example for medical technology or lightweight construction in the automotive sector. Seventeen spin off companies have emerged from the LZH up to now. Thus, the LZH has created a strong transfer between fundamental science, application oriented research, and industry.