Last year I asked why the United States would not consider using polymer notes after the Bank of Canada made their announcement that they will transition to using the polymer substrate. Not only are polymer notes very difficult to counterfeit, they last longer reducing printing costs and overhead to both the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Federal Reserve.
After it was announced that Spink of London will auction sheets of DuraNote trial printings from the Bank of Canada, BEP told CoinWorld that they printed as many as 40,000 sheets of Federal Reserve Notes using the DuraNote substrate.
DuraNote was a product of Mobil Chemical and AGRA Vadeko of Canada. Trials of DuraNote were not successful and the project was abandoned. Patents for DuraNote were sold following the Exxon-Mobil merger.
Around the same time, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) developed a polymer substrate with a different formula that went into production in 1992. Since then, Australia has been successfully printing polymer notes.
In the mean time, there continues to be issues with folding of the paper specially designed for the new $100 Federal Reserve Note. Since the October 1, 2010 announcement by the Fed of the folding issue, the Fed and BEP has less than forthcoming on the status of the new note including the BEP withholding their annual report for fiscal year 2011 so they do not have to disclose how many of these notes they have in inventory.
The paper being used by the BEP is manufactured by Crane & Company who has had the exclusive contract with the BEP since 1879.
Where DuraNote failed RBA succeeded in creating a workable technology that is being adopted world wide. With the new $100 note having printing problems, why has the BEP not looked into the RBA polymer substrate for U.S. currency? Why does the Federal Reserve, BEP, and Secret Service cling to 19th and 20th century printing technologies in the 21st century? Or is this a matter of the influence being purchased [PDF] by Crane & Company in order to maintain its monopoly.
Maybe it is time for the Fed and the BEP to re-examine their commitment to paper and stop wasting time and money with failed technologies.