The new bills, which were supposed to debut more than two years ago, were delayed when a problem with the printing left a spot blank on some notes.
Now, the Washington, D.C., plant has had a problem called "mashing," meaning too much ink was applied to the paper and the lines on the bill's intricate design aren't as exact as they're supposed to be.
The Fed is returning the $3 billion in "clearly unacceptable" bills and is planning to examine another $30 billion for the problem, said Larry Felix, the director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in a memo to employees in July.
The bureau shut down production of the $100 bills at the Washington, D.C., plant until further notice, and Felix ordered the Fort Worth, Texas, money factory to boost production to meet an October 8th deadline, when the new bills are supposed to begin circulating.
“There are dire consequences involved here because BEP sells Federal Reserve notes to the Board to finance our entire operation,” he wrote. “If the BEP does not meet the order, the BEP does not get paid.”
The new bill, which was first unveiled in 2010, has a slew of new features, including a 3D security ribbon down the center, a Liberty Bell and a number 100 that change color, a portrait watermark, an embedded security thread, the words "The United States of America" printed in tiny letters on Ben Franklin's collar, and raised printing.