SafeMetal — Increasing EU citizen security by utilising innovative intelligent signal processing systems for euro-coin validation and metal quality testing

Prof. Mart Min with test set-up for conductivity measurements Euro coinage has been steadily subject to increasing outlawed counterfeiting activities. The most recent figures bring to 14 the number of illegal mints discovered to date, accompanied with a significant cumulative total of counterfeit coins detected or confiscated. Over 80 classes of counterfeit coins and corresponding tooling and working methods are identified, which by European Technical and Scientific Centre directives lead undoubtedly to the conclusion that the vast majority of counterfeit manufacturing facilities remain in operation. At the same time, conductivity measurements are widely used for characterisation of heat treatment of aluminium alloys and other non-destructive testing, especially for safety-critical applications in aerospace industry, nuclear reactors etc.

Prior art in the field has led to technologies made to reduce at manufacturing time the spread of electrical parameters and at validation time the measurement of electrical conductivity of the metal respectively. Due to the large number of coins produced by European mints, material for coin blanks is sourced from different suppliers. Recent European standards to increase the security of the coinage by reducing the spread of parameter values result in significant challenges for manufacturers of coin validators used in vending machines and bank coin sorting machines.

The SMEs participating have identified these challenges and consider they represent major product opportunities. The developed metal validation technology will be required to distinguish between increasingly sophisticated counterfeit and the tightly specified genuine coins and to characterise the metal quality. This will be accomplished by developing advanced signal processing and data fusion techniques, and by also developing planar electro-magnetic sensors and pulse eddy-current measurement techniques with increased field sensitivity. The market being addressed includes coin validators and aerospace and nuclear industries.

The project results are expected to lead to: