Marks of distinction

Watermark Security Documents

Watermark excellence

As global experts in security paper, we help produce millions of passports, certificates and secure documents for use in over 50 countries across the globe.

Watermark origination

Watermark origination is a skill – it takes experience and expertise to ensure maximum design clarity and multi tonal three-dimensional effect.

Design origination

The origination of a mould cover begins right at the start at the design stage and so our Mould Office works extremely closely with our design team

Engraving plates for secure printing

Engraving plates

The 3D design image is first engraved into brass plates known as die (positive image) and matrix (negative image) plates.

Cylinder mould production

The embossed cloth, known as the face cloth, is reinforced with multiple layers of thicker wire mesh and then the ends are brought together to form a hollow cylinder.

Electrotype additions

Electroype watermarks offer a highly effective additional feature to an overall watermark design.

Quality, consistency and precision

Mould cover origination is inspected repeatedly, both manually and digitally, at every stage of the process, including during paper manufacture.

Portals Announces Mould Office Refurbishment

Following an intense period of investment, redevelopment, installation and implementation, we are delighted to announce the official relaunch of the new mould cover manufacturing facility at Bathford Paper Mill following a £700k refurbishment programme.

The newly refurbished Mould Office and associated equipment gives Bathford state of the art capability to produce the high-resolution watermarks demanded for the security papers used in passports and government certificates. This is the start of an investment programme at Portals designed to maintain and grow its position as the world’s leading manufacturer of security papers.

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Watermark excellence

As global experts in security paper, we help produce millions of passports, certificates and secure documents for use in over 50 countries across the globe. That is quite some achievement! In almost each and every one of these documents is a watermark. And watermarks are what we, here at Portals, do best!

Let’s start with the basics. There are traditionally two different forms of paper making and approaches to watermark production. At Portals we focus on and specialise in only the Cylinder Mould approach to watermarking, thus ensuring the highest levels of quality and security for our clients.

Cylinder mould watermark

The Cylinder mould made watermark is considered to offer the highest security of any watermark type. It is a three-dimensional watermark giving beautiful clarity and high image definition. In cylinder mould papermaking, the watermarks are created as the paper is formed. The resulting watermark has exceptional, multi-tonal detail because the watermark is formed as an intrinsic part of the paper sheet. High quality cylinder mould watermarks, such as those made here at Portals, are virtually impossible to simulate effectively.

Fourdrinier watermark

Fourdrinier watermarks are more common, easily available and are far less complex to produce. The fourdrinier method of watermarking creates a simple dual-tone, high contrast feature. In this process, the paper is mostly formed before the watermark is created with an impression roll, known as a dandy roll, embossing the watermark design into the wet paper sheet. Fourdrinier watermarks are generally considered easier to replicate and therefore less secure than its Cylinder Mould alternative. They are typically used for business and promotional applications and not high security documents. We do not manufacture this type of watermark at Portals.

Watermark origination

Watermark origination is a skill – it takes experience and expertise to ensure maximum design clarity and multi tonal three-dimensional effect. Watermarks are miniature works of art, replicated time and time again, across the mould and at every revolution of the cylinder on the paper machine.

Precision, accuracy and consistency are paramount – an effective watermark must also be immediately recognisable to the user – after all, it is one of the only security features recommend by Interpol for use in security documents across the board.

The following describes the watermark origination process step by step – we promise, you will never look at a watermark in the same way ever again.

Design origination

The origination of a mould cover begins right at the start at the design stage and so our Mould Office works extremely closely with our design team.

Design concepts usually start with a photograph of the main subject of the watermark and / or a number of additional background design elements. These images are then converted into a high-definition tonal drawing. This artwork layout is then carefully manipulated, reworked and converted into a 3D digital image suitable for watermarking.

At this stage, the Design team hands over the origination process to our Mould Office team of experts who turn these visuals into the physical moulds that we use on the papermaking machine to create the actual watermark itself.

Engraving plates

The 3D design image is first engraved into brass plates known as die (positive image) and matrix (negative image) plates. Once this is done, the two brass plates will fit together perfectly. They are then used to emboss the watermark image into a bronze wire mesh cloth. The embossed images are made in specific locations in the cloth to ensure the watermarks appear in registered positions in the final paper.

Cylinder mould production

The embossed cloth, known as the face cloth, is reinforced with multiple layers of thicker wire mesh and then the ends are brought together to form a hollow cylinder and a precision welded seam is made. The mould cover is then re-checked and stretched onto an expanding metal cylinder to create a cylinder mould suitable for use in a paper machine.

Electrotype additions

Electroype watermarks offer a highly effective additional feature to an overall watermark design.

Appearing lighter and brighter than its surrounding area, as result of fibre disbursement on the paper machine, electrotypes can be easily incorporated alongside a multi-tonal cylinder mould made watermark.

Electrotypes are typically grown via an electroforming method and welded to the mould cover piece by piece and sit slightly raised above the base wire mesh.

Quality, consistency and precision

Mould cover origination is inspected repeatedly, both manually and digitally, at every stage of the process, including during paper manufacture.

Leading the industry

World leaders in the manufacture of high security watermarked papers, Portals is the only dedicated
cylinder mould paper mill in the world.

We take our status as “leaders” very seriously indeed and so are continuously enhancing, improving and further developing our approach and processes to ensure the very best watermark definition, clarity, consistency, accuracy, quality and precision is achieved in every sheet we make.

Bathford’s Mould Office has recently seen some significant investment and has been refurbished, remodelled and upgraded to ensure Portals remain as firm leaders in this sector and continue to meet the ever more demanding requirements of the security paper market for many more years to come.

Mould office refurbishment

The Bathford Mould Office Refurbishment project was centred around three priority goals: to enhance capacity, improve capability and increase operational accuracy, all of which are intrinsically linked to the long-term sustainability and quality mission set out in the mill’s strategy plans.

The latest innovations

As part of this project, we took the opportunity to upgrade and enhance our processes and included a number of rather exciting new features and developments into the mix;

Precision plotter

As part of our commitment to reliability, precision and excellence, Portals has invested in the latest cutting-edge design plotter, revolutionising their template production process. With exceptional accuracy, this single piece of equipment is helping us to reset and redefine standard across a number of different operations and bringing even closer alignment between the mould office team, paper making crews and quality control processes.

Robotics and laser systems

Improving stability and enhancing capacity when building the mould cover, our combined robotic arm and laser solution was developed by working closely alongside our technical supply partners. Installed on our Autopress, this new approach allows Portals to deliver consistent and highly accurate results with minimal manual intervention required during the pressing stage, ensuring the highest quality watermarks and design precision, longevity of the mould cover and also an improvement to EHS procedures.

Viewing windows

Enhancing customer experience and on-site training and education, extra-large laser safe viewing windows have been installed. This will enable our visitors to view the wire mesh moulding process both up close and in larger numbers, comfortably welcoming groups to observe and learn in real time of the process taking place. We are also quite proud of what we do, so are excited to be able to show it off – safely and securely!

The personal touch

The last point to make – but also possibly the most important – is that even with all the latest technology and gizmos available in the world at your fingertips, without a team of incredibly skilled, experienced and expert paper makers sitting at the core of it, we simply would not be able to guarantee beautiful, durable, secure and consistent watermarks in your paper.

Some of the processes involved in watermark origination and cylinder mould creation are still best done by hand, including “Electrotype welding”, “Face cloth layering” and “Edging” of the wires as well as “Bow welding” and the joining of the meshes while on the “Seaming Horses”. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it!

At Portals, we have over 100 years of combined experience and expertise in the Mould office alone – a team that are hands on throughout the process of watermark origination, during the entire mould office refurbishment and also everything else paper making too!

Their craftsmanship and insight into how to make watermarks is second to none in the industry and across the globe. Portals’ Mould Office truly is a centre of excellence – and we cannot wait to welcome you in and show you around it!

Expertise

  • Dedicated team of origination experts
  • Working in hand in glove with design and manufacturing for optimal results
  • Supplying high quality watermarks for millions of documents worldwide

Craftsmanship

  • A genuine passion for hand crafted watermarks
  • Learning and skills passed from generation to generation
  • A team offering over 100 years of collective watermark origination experience

Innovation

  • Latest cutting-edge technologies
  • Kitted out to deliver manufacturing and watermarking excellence
  • A focus and commitment to precision, accuracy, consistency and quality

USP's

  • The only dedicated cylinder mould security wood pulp paper mill in the world
  • World class watermark origination and refurbished mould office facilities

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