How Is Paper Money Made?
United States paper money is made by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It is a division of the Department of the Treasury. There are two locations, one in Washington, D.C. and another in Fort Worth, Texas.
Paper money is printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in Washington, D.C. There, new bills are designed by artists at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. They first draw out some rough sketches with different ideas.
They work on creating a dignified image that will portray the strength of the United States. They then put anti-counterfeit measures into the design that will keep people from being able to copy the bill.
The final design must be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury. Then, skilled engravers cut the designs for money into steel plates. Workers use the engravings to make plates for printing presses.
Paper money is printed in sheets of thirty two bills, on special paper with red and blue threads in it. The paper goes through the press three times before it actually becomes money. The backs of the bills are printed first, then the faces. Later the letters and serial numbers are added. The sheets of new money are then cut into separate bills.
Making paper money is a complex procedure. Most of the steps are designed to make the money difficult to counterfeit.
1) Special Paper – United States paper money uses a very special type of paper that is made of 75% cotton and 25% linen. The paper is manufactured for the U.S. Treasury and each sheet is carefully tracked to make sure that none of it is stolen by counterfeiters. During the printing stage, the bills are printed on large sheets which are cut into individual bills at the end.
2) Special Ink – The ink used to print United States paper money is special as well. They use special formulas designed by the U.S. Treasury. The back of each bill is printed with green ink. On the front a variety of inks are used depending on the bill including black ink, color-shifting ink, and metallic ink.
3) Offset Printing – The first stage in the printing process is called the offset printing stage. During this stage, the background is printed on each side by a huge printer that can print up to 10,000 sheets of money per hour. The sheets then need to dry for three days (72 hours) before moving on to the next stage.
4) Intaglio Printing – After the sheets are dry, they go to the intaglio printer. Here some of the finer details of the design are added including numerals, portraits, some lettering, and scroll work.
Each side is printed separately. First the detail is added to the green side. Next, the sheet dries for 72 hours, then it goes through another intaglio printer and the details of the portrait side are printed.
5) Inspection – The sheets then go through an inspection process. Digital computers analyze each sheet in minute detail to make sure that the paper, ink, and printing all meet the precise standards.
6) Overprinting – If the sheets pass inspection they are sent to the overprinting stage where serial numbers and seals are printed.
7) Stacking and Cutting – The final stage is the stacking and cutting stage. Here the sheets are stacked and sent to a large cutting machine that slices the sheets into individual bills. Now the bills are considered legal currency.