On June 13, 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint officially opened its plating facility expansion and the Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence for Research and Development. Construction of the 70,000 square foot expansion of its Winnipeg facility began in the fall of 2011 and represents an investment of $60 million for the Mint.
“The expansion of our state-of-the-art plating facility supports the growth of the Mint’s foreign business as a key priority as we pursue the objective to own 15 percent of global market share by 2020,” said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “The Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence for Research and Development will double the Mint’s capacity to innovate and will open new and exciting opportunities to market our proprietary technologies and processes to the benefit of coin customers world-wide.”
Plating Facility Expansion
The facility at Winnipeg has produced circulation coins and blanks for more than 75 countries since opening in 1976. The expansion will enable the Mint to increase production of multi-ply plated steel (MPPS) blanks and other plated products by two billion pieces per year.
MPPS coins are composed of a sandwich-like core of steel, plated with alternating layers of different metals, such as copper, nickel, or brass. The plating of the steel core with microns-thick alternating layers of metals creates a more resistant coin than other plated or alloy coins. The electo-magnetic signature of each coin can also be controlled by using a specifically engineered composition of alternating metal layers, allowing the coins to be reliably authenticated by automatic acceptance coin readers and effectively distinguished from counterfeits.
There are currently more than 30 counties which use MPPS coins including Singapore, the UAE, Barbados, Ghana, Uganda, Panama, Papua New Guinea and Albania. In Canada, the lower value circulation coins were switched to MPPS in 2000, followed by the transition of the $1 and $2 circulation coins in April 2012.
Last year, a coin industry consultant provided testimony on multi-ply technology during a hearing held by the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology. The United States Mint has evaluated multi-ply plated steel during their research and development activities authorized under the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010.
New Research and Development Center
The Royal Canadian Mint undertakes research and development activities to support the needs of their four business lines: Numismatics & Collectibles; Bullion, Refinery & ETR; Canadian Circulation; and Foreign Business. The facility at Winnipeg has worked on advanced circulation coinage technologies with a focus on new multi-ply plating technology, new materials and high security technologies for circulation coins.
As the new Hieu C. Truong Centre of Excellence for Research and Development becomes fully operational, the existing R&D team will will recruit scientists, engineers, and technicians to staff a number of laboratories and facilities within a 5,000 sq. ft. space. This will include:
- A New Technology Applications Laboratory (to prove out new technologies such as improved high-speed coin coloring);
- An Analytical and Physical Testing Laboratory (to test the composition and physical characteristics of materials and their properties such as electro-magnetic signature, hardness, and durability);
- A Security Features Advancements Laboratory (to enhance coin security features such as micro-engraved laser marks, edge lettering, and virtual imaging); and
- A Laboratory-Scale Plating Line (to permit more advanced investigation of new plating materials and live demonstrations of custom plating applications to customers).
The training facility in the Centre will allow the Mint’s foreign business line to deliver consulting, training, and other services to customers and partner mints. A viewing gallery will allow the Mint to demonstrate its full scale plating line to stakeholders and customers.
The Centre was named after Dr. Hieu C. Truong, who was the inventor of the multi-ply plating process and who has directed various teams of engineers to develop hologram technology in minting, 99.999% gold refining, laser virtual imaging, and many other technologies.