The advent of current digital print technology has resulted in a drastic increase in the accessibility of counterfeiting currency and secure documents. In response, organizations such as the CIA, Secret Service and FBI must continually train and educate their employees and staff. To meet the increasing demands of these groups, the Rochester Institute of Technology has developed the Marking Engine Characterization (MEC) target to train and assist forensic document examiners in identifying print processes.

The MEC target's effectiveness in identifying print processes was tested by printing the target on a variety of marking engines and processes. These marking engines included:

  • Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 - Offset Lithography

  • Nexpress 2100 - Dry electro-photographic process

  • Xerox DocuColor 6060 - Toner based electro-photographic process

  • Indigo 3000 - Liquid ink electro-photographic process

  • Fuji Pictroproof- Silver halide photographic process

  • Iris Realist FX 5015 - Continuous inkjet process

  • Epson 9600 - Piezo based inkjet process

  • Kodak Approval NX - Thermal dye sublimation

The substrate used during the study was limited to 100# Titan gloss to decrease variability, however, the Fuji Pictroproof, Epson 9600 and Iris Realist FX 5015 are not compatible with other brands of stock and used the following stocks: Fuji Pictroproof Matte Paper, Epson Premium Gloss Photo Paper and Iris Realist Inkjet Gloss Paper. SWOP specifications were used as benchmark settings for CMYK and the specific settings of each marking engines was documented using the Press Run Organizer. Thirtysix MEC targets were printed per marking engine and visually evaluated to ensure the marking engines were consistent. A group of samples were selected and evaluated by 13 observers who were participants in the Forensic Document Examiners Seminar held at RIT on November 18, 2005.

The results of the observation group lead to several conclusions. Firstly, the MEC target is not effective in helping forensic document examiners identify print processes. Secondly, the attendees of the seminar did not have enough experience in digital processes to distinguish between them. Thirdly, the experience among the user group is varied. Fourthly, observers used many aspects of the target such as substrate and ink to determine the process. Finally, that there is no relationship between the observation group's confidence level and a correct or incorrect answer.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Legal documents--Identification; Counterfeits and counterfeiting--Identification; Printing; Forensic sciences

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Print Media (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Print Media (CIAS)


Scott Williams

Advisor/Committee Member

Michael Riordan

Advisor/Committee Member

Twyla J. Cummings


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at HV8074 .S74 2006


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