ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
The $100 bill is in for a facelift according to the Associated Press. And it seems that when it emerges, Ben Franklin will sport some new threads - security threads which are produced by Crane & Co., which makes paper. They're based in Dalton, Massachusetts. And Douglas Crane is the vice president.
Douglas Crane, what is a security thread?
DOUGLAS CRANE: Well, a security thread is a plastic filament that runs down the length of the note. In all of the current designs of U.S. currency - fives through hundreds - there are imbedded security threads.
SIEGEL: The current designs, although we haven't yet seen the hundred that actually has this in it.
CRANE: No. This is a new style of security thread that's significantly wider, and it comes out of the sheet of paper up to the surface and then dives back down in in a windowing fashion.
SIEGEL: In a windowing fashion - you mean it appears to be translucent at some point?
CRANE: Well, the purpose, of course, is to get the security thread up to the surface of the sheet so you don't have paper fibers covering over the security element. So this device requires that your eye be able to see the surface of the security thread itself.
SIEGEL: It's a security thread, I gather, because a $100 bill, not surprisingly, is a target of many, many counterfeiters, and this, I gather, would be quite hard to counterfeit.
CRANE: That is, of course, the intention. And one of the reasons why this particular technology is being looked at so closely is that it has a very striking optical effect in that images on the security thread appeared to slide around when you tilt the note. And they also slide around in directions opposite to the tilt. So if you tilt the note forward to back, the images will slide from right to left. And while this is a very easy effect to explain to the public, it's also one that is not found pretty much anywhere else, making it pretty rare, but it's also based on a very complex optical structure and a very complicated manufacturing process.
SIEGEL: It sounds like a little funhouse mirror right there in every bank note, every bill.
CRANE: Well, you certainly could put it that way.
SIEGEL: And you've made these for other countries?
CRANE: Yes, this technology is quite young. It has been released now in the highest denomination of Swedish notes and it's in production in some other bank notes as well.
SIEGEL: Well, as Crane developed this particular security thread to go into the new hundreds, whenever the design is finished, is the mindset now - this will work for a few years, but five years from now we'll probably have to come up with another device more sophisticated than this and more sophisticated than whatever reproductive technologies are available at that point?
CRANE: The short answer to that question is yes. You know, we just can't rest. We're always going to have to be pushing the technology forward. This is certainly an important development for us, but it is just one security device and that's going to be designed into a note right now. It will be supplemented with other security features as well. But we also have to have our eyes open for other types of systems as well.
SIEGEL: Now, the new hundreds is still a ways off. But next month, the government will unveil the new $5 bill. Are you involved in that one as well?
CRANE: Yes, we are. We've been in development for sometime now on the paper that's used for the $5 note and it does have a range of updated security features and a whole new design. And the design, I understand, will be released over the Internet on September 28th.
SIEGEL: And Lincoln will still be there, I hope?
CRANE: I hope so, too.
SIEGEL: Any other dramatic changes in store?
CRANE: I think it's going to look a little bit different, yeah.
SIEGEL: Okay. Well, we'll look forward to it. Thank you very much for talking with us, Mr. Crane.
CRANE: Certainly. And thank you very much.
SIEGEL: That's Douglas Crane who is vice president of Crane & Co., which makes paper in Dalton, Massachusetts.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.