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3M Develops New Security Feature for License Plates

November 03, 2005  | 

3M’s Traffic Safety Systems Division has developed new technology that incorporates an indelible mark into reflective material that is nearly impossible to duplicate, making illegal license plate altering or duplication difficult.

Known as the 3M Ensure Virtual Security Thread (VST), the mark is a visible three-dimensional security feature embedded in a plate’s reflective surface. The wavy, intertwined pattern appears to “float” within the material.

Modern technology has made it easier for counterfeiters to duplicate nearly any kind of image. However, the Ensure VST security mark is similar to that used in many currencies. It is indelible and cannot be digitally duplicated. One part of the double wave pattern appears to sink below the plate while the other floats above, and the wave orientation changes as the plate is viewed at different angles.

3M researchers developed the Ensure VST in response to today’s heightened security consciousness at all levels of law enforcement and public safety. The technology provides an added layer of protection for a state or country’s vehicle registration system. There have been numerous reports around the world of vehicles displaying fraudulently produced license plates. Frequently, people try to avoid compliance with various vehicle registration requirements, such as insurance and inspections, but many of these vehicles also are used in unlawful activities. There also is evidence that terrorist organizations have used counterfeit plates to help falsify vehicle registrations.

For more information about the 3M Ensure VST security mark visit

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