Minnesota license plates go digitalIt began in April 2008 and will take several years, but eventually all of Minnesota’s 158 types of license plates will be flat, rather than embossed, and produced in a manner that saves time, space, money and a few unpleasant chemicals, while it makes the plates easier to read.
It began in April 2008 and will take several years, but eventually all of Minnesota’s 158 types of license plates will be flat, rather than embossed, and produced in a manner that saves time, space, money and a few unpleasant chemicals, while it makes the plates easier to read.
The “digital” license plates (DLP) are produced by the Minnesota Department of Corrections using a relatively new process that involves printing the design on flat sheeting. With input from law enforcement, the Department of Public Safety Division of Driver and Vehicle Services redesigned the plates to include black lettering, which creates higher contrast and greater readability, and a bar code that can be scanned for inventory control and record-keeping.
The digital printing reduces production time, since all the graphics on the plate can be printed simultaneously. It also allows faster delivery on specialty plates, because they can be printed anytime; the embossed plates require a sequential production process that can’t be interrupted to print a special plate.
The thinner, lighter and still recyclable aluminum used in the DLP process will require less storage space and reduce postage costs. There’s a small environmental advantage, too. The digital printing process eliminates some of the paints and solvents necessary to produce embossed plates.
Currently, flat plates include the “Loon Critical Habitat” and “Support Our Troops” plates, along with the new “Minnesota Sesquicentennial” plate that became available in August. Anyone renewing plates online or via U.S. Mail is now receiving DLPs, and deputy registrars have recently begun issuing the plates for passenger vehicles. This winter, the transition will begin in the remaining plate categories.
For a digital image of the new plate design, go to www.dps.state.mn.us.