Ever wondered about the reason behind an ID card hologram overlay or driver’s license hologram overlay? Well, it is for security or anti-counterfeiting purposes. You will find these security holograms on several products including credit and debit cards, children’s strollers, and passports.

In this post, we take a closer look at a security hologram overlay, how to create one, and its application. We will also show you some factors to consider when choosing a hologram overlay.

What is a Security Hologram Overlay?

Security hologram overlays help to prevent the duplication of copying of different kinds of cards and other items. You will only see the image of the hologram when you view the item from certain angles. From a regular angle, all you see is the information on the ID card. The overlay has a durable film material that prevents any alterations to the information on the card.

Instead of re-issuing ID cards, making use of overlays is a more affordable alternative. All you need to do is to apply a new overlay on an existing card instead of printing the card afresh.

How to create security holograms

Creating an ID card hologram overlay isn’t exactly a difficult process. However, it is a chain of processes, just like what is obtainable from other popular printing methods. The stages include:

  • Hologram origination
  • Embossing
  • Converting
  • Finishing

We will describe each process briefly below.

Hologram origination

This process involves creating holographic images and it is also known as hologram mastering. The end product is a hologram image that is recorded on a photo-resist. There are different techniques and the one you use depends on the purpose of the security hologram.

Computers are used to generate modern holograms so there is no need for a real object. All you need to do is create your design on a computer in vector format. After this, you need to convert the design into a real hologram using special software and piece of equipment. This transfers the image to a glass plate via the photo-resist. The result is known as a Master Hologram.


This is the process of printing the hologram overlays. It is carried out through reel-to-reel equipment that makes use of high pressure, temperature, and printing nickel forms. The machines help to transfer the image in the Master hologram to special materials.

After this, the surface pattern is pressed to the plastic foil from the work shim. This is accomplished through the help of a thin nickel replica. The process is dependent on pressure and temperature rather than ink in regular printing.

The embossed pattern that you see on the foil comes from a thin reflective aluminum layer. Sometimes, it is gotten from other metals like chromium or gold. This process results in a reflection hologram from the transmission hologram. The reflection hologram is opaque.


When the embossing is done, the hologram may go through additional operations depend on what the product is like. These are known as conversion processes and they include:

  • Lamination
  • Die-cutting
  • Rewinding
  • Slitting
  • Adhesive coating

After this, you can apply the hologram overlays to any products you want. This could be done through hot stamping, over-lamination, or as a tape or thread.


This is the final stage of creating security hologram overlays. The finishing process depends on the application of the hologram. If they are to be used for high-security purposes, they are put through a few additional processes. These include selective demetalization and numbering, laminating, and hot foil stamping.

Real-life application of security holograms

Asides from an ID card hologram overlay or driver’s license hologram overlay, there are other applications of security holograms. The applications are split into two and we have grouped them below:

High-security applications

These include the following:

  • Government documents
  • International passport
  • Credit cards
  • Currency
  • Pharmaceuticals and medications
  • Legal documents

Low and medium security applications

They include:

  • Automobile Registration
  • Branded Apparel
  • Collectibles and Memorabilia
  • Employee ID Badge
  • Event Tickets
  • Gift Certificates
  • Liquor and Spirits
  • Lottery Tickets
  • Prescription Pads
  • Ski Lift Tickets
  • Stamps
  • Tobacco Products
  • Training Certificates
  • Warranty Seals

Factors to consider when choosing security holograms overlays

There are several kinds of holograms on the market. Because of this, it may be quite difficult to choose which one suits your needs. We have put together 4 factors for you to consider when choosing security hologram overlays.

Security requirement

The level of security you need will determine the kind of overlays that you choose. There are different security levels and they include:

  • Low-security application
  • Medium security application
  • High-security application

The first level is for businesses that don’t have a serious need for security protection. You can make use of stickers in this case. They are affordable and very effective. In the case of medium security applications, you only need to print custom text, serial numbers, or logos. The final category, high-security application, is the best and costliest of the three. It is perfect if you are going for the long haul.


How much time do you have to invest in creating the holograms? If you need them to be produced very quickly, then you should choose express holograms. On the other hand, you can choose to customize stock holograms with personal text if you can wait for 5 days. If you can wait for 2 weeks, then you can work on creating a whole new hologram from scratch.


How much you have to spend ultimately determines what kind of hologram overlays you choose. It determines if you will choose express service or regular custom hologram services. This factor also determines how many overlays you will produce. We suggest that you check the market for the best deals before diving in.


Finally, what you need the overlays for will determine which kind you choose. There is a huge variety to choose from. They include:

  • Hidden security features
  • Optional color coding
  • Bar codes
  • Laminated labels
  • Logos
  • Text, etc.

Wrapping Up

Security hologram overlays have become one of the best ways to secure products and documents. We have shown you how they are created, their applications, and how to choose. Need hologram overlays? Click here.