On February 14, 2014, U.S. currency production history was made when the BEP ushered in a new era by completing its first 50-subject produced notes. The last time the BEP achieved a milestone of this significance was in 1957, when it transitioned from 18- to 32-subject production. The first 50-subject Series 2013 $1 notes bear the signatures of Secretary Lew and Treasurer Rios. Currently, only $1 notes are produced in 50-subject sheet format.
The BEP refers to the process as “LEPE,” which stands for Large Examining Printing Equipment. The LEPE acronym is a BEP label, and not an industry name. LEPE machines are state-of-the-art equipment, specifically designed for the BEP, that consolidate four currency production processes. Essentially, printed sheets are sent directly to LEPE where the output is a packaged product ready for delivery to the Federal Reserve System.
There are three lines of equipment – two in Fort Worth and one in DC – which perform full sheet examination, letterpress printing functions, product verification, cutting, and packaging of currency. The equipment is 144 feet long from end-to-end which is the equivalent of 48 yards, or roughly half the length of a football field. The 50-subject currency sheets coming from the Super Orlof intaglio press are jogged and fed directly into the feeder unit on the far right-hand side of the equipment, making their journey to the palletizer on the far left-hand side where they come out as vault-ready cash-packs. What makes this equipment so remarkable is that it performs multiple inspections and verifications using a total of 20 cameras as it inspects, prints, verifies and packages currency, all at the rate of approximately 9,000 sheets per hour.