The American dollar is at the cause of several debates – particularly regarding who should be faced on the front, and how should it be distributed.
A lot goes into the design of the dollar, which is why counterfeit is basically impossible to 100% pull off. Its design is based on practical concern.
In the old days when coins made of gold and silver were the standard currency, “coin clipping” was common. People would chip off pieces of the coin for themselves. The value of the dollar however, is purely based on an idea rather than a material, and the design of the materials used are simply to avoid unauthorized reproduction.
First of all, the dollar is actually made of thinly pressed cotton and linen. Not your usual paper at all. You can’t just put your usual 8.5 x 11 cellulose paper in a printer and get some dollars out of it.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is part of the U.S. Department of Treasury, is responsible for the production of paper money for the US. The process takes about 4 months.
Intaglio printing is also incorporated into the bill, which is detailed engraving. The average printer’s DPI (dots per inch) isn’t advanced enough to replicate the fine miniature detail. The design of the dollar gets an upgrade about each decade.
A 3D blue strip was added to the $100 bill that has little Liberty Bells shown until it’s tilted and the Liberty Bells turn into the number 100. The strip is woven into the material itself. A color shifting bill that changes from copper to green is woven into it as well.
$20 bills also have watermarks that are shown in the light. A watermark of President Jackson is visible from both sides of the bill.
The cotton and linen have red fibers intricately woven into them as well, which is certainly hard to replicate accurately. Magnetic strips add an extra precaution as well.