Production of banknotes

The production of euro banknotes at the Banknote Printing Works of the Bank of Greece (ΙΕΤΑ) is conducted according to the designs, specifications and security features approved by the European Central Bank (ECT).

The annual quantity of euro banknotes produced at IETA on behalf of the Bank of Greece, is the result of a distribution made based on the total needs of the Eurosystem in banknotes in circulation and in accordance to the participation percentage of each national central bank to the ECB capital.

According to the banknote production framework established by the ECB, each printing works may produce up to three different euro banknote denominations.

Raw materials for the production of banknotes

 The main raw materials for the production of banknotes are the security paper and inks used for printing.   

The main raw materials for the production of banknotes are the security paper and inks used for printing.

The security paper is produced in plants approved by the ECB, regarding their observance of strict security rules and the high quality of their product.

The same conditions and requirements that apply to the paper production plants, apply also to the plants that produce the ink used for printing the euro banknotes.

The production-printing line of banknotes in IETA comprises base printing machinery, silkscreen printing machinery, copperplate printing machinery, numbering printing machinery and flexography printing machinery.

The equipment for selection and quality control of the banknotes produced at IETA comprises:

  • systems for cutting the banknotes and feeding them to the processing and quality control machinery,
  • processing and quality control machinery and
  • banknote packaging systems in batches and packages.

How are the banknotes printed

The production of euro banknotes requires the availability of raw materials (printing paper and security inks), and of some other materials such as plates for offset and copperplate printing etc. that are necessary for printing. 

The production of euro banknotes requires the availability of raw materials (printing paper and security inks), and of some other materials such as plates for offset and copperplate printing etc. that are necessary for printing.

The production and supply of printing paper is made in sheets of specific dimensions. The sheets of paper do not bare any printing from the production plant; however, they already possess some of the security features.

The stages of printing

The stages of printing of the sheets of banknotes are: 

The stages of printing of the sheets of banknotes are:

  • “Base” printing, i.e. printing of the main design on both sides.
  • Silkscreen printing, during which special security inks are printed.
  • Copperplate printing, during which the upper side of the banknotes becomes relief and is used as the main security feature, since the relief can be sensed through touch.
  • Printing of numbering. The numbering of each banknote is unique and encoded and the letter of the Latin alphabet that precedes the numerical digits, represents the printing works where the banknote was produced.
  • Printing of varnish coating that covers both sides of the 2nd series banknotes of low value, thus enhancing their life span.

After the stages of printing are through, the sheets of banknotes are moved to the last stage of processing, which is their cutting into coupons (pieces of banknotes) and then the automated processing and quality control by the processing and quality control machinery.

Control procedures

The processing machinery is equipped with special sensors that check specific properties of the security features that exist on every banknote. 

The processing machinery is equipped with special sensors that check specific properties of the security features that exist on every banknote.

The final quality control as well as the check of the banknotes’ security features are not the only checks performed during the production process.

These checks include the quality control of all incoming raw materials, as well as an interim quality control, which is performed between the various printing stages.

IETA is being audited regarding the implementation of the euro banknotes quality program, both on an annual basis and after every major change of the production process (e.g. Supply of security paper from a new manufacturer, annual commencement of production at every stage, etc.). After the successful production of samples, the commencement of the regular production is approved by specialized executives and technicians of the European Central Bank.

Furthermore, in the context of the Eurosystem, IETA is being inspected at least annually on issues of physical and digital security of its installations and the money produced, including all security features (preparation data, digital archives/files, paper, inks, intermediate and final products, preparation and production procedures, etc.), also by the competent executives of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Eurosystem.

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