According to a study by the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA), around 70 percent of businesses in Germany today are affected by product and brand piracy. The resultant losses for German mechanical and plant engineering companies alone is estimated at 7.3 billion euros each year. Findings by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology in Dresden (IWS) – which has dedicated itself to the issue - have shown that, as the burden of proof for patent violations lies with the affected companies, product protection technology in particular is becoming increasingly important. Together with Erich Utsch AG, the Institute has developed a method to protect vehicle license plates that is both flexible and economically attractive - in contrast to many established product protection solutions.
The technique transfers product protection features efficiently and securely onto vehicle license plates during the embossing process. It is based on direct laser interference patterning (DLIP), which splits a coherent laser beam into two or more beams and carefully superimposes these onto the embossed surface. What's unique about the developed process is its ability to create DLIP product protection features in just a fraction of the usual time. Expensive infrastructures, often required for established hologram label manufacturing processes, are no longer needed. Thanks to its flexibility, the process can produce even the most complex surface geometries and product protection features. All these benefits are set to transform the newly developed product protection method into a highly promising solution for much more than just vehicle license plates in the future.