What is Thermochromic Ink?

Have you ever wondered how an item can change colors when exposed to touch, heat, wind, or cool temperatures? Copier Supply Store reports these dynamic color changes happen because of something called thermochromic ink. Thermochromic inks involves thermochromism, which refers to materials that change their hues in response to temperature fluctuation. Temperature sensitive graphics using thermochromic ink can be found on products everywhere – clothes, cars, cans, papers, paints, and even wall designs.

There are two major categories of thermochromic ink; thermochromatic liquid crystals and leuco dyes. They are pigments that are temperature reactive.

  • Touch Activated Liquid Crystal Pigments will change color within the visible spectrum when rubbed or touched. This color change will occur between 77 and 86 degrees.
  • Cold Activated Thermochromic Pigments are used on personalized labels or packaging to create a color change when cooled. Typically occurs around 59 degrees.
  • Touch Activated Thermochromic Pigments will temporarily vanish when rubbed or touched to reveal an image or another color printed beneath. The image will vanish if exposed to 88 degrees.
  • High Temperature Thermochromic Pigments are designed to change color just below the pain threshold indicating a safety hazard or quality issue. If a product uses high temperature thermochromic pigments, it will alert you when it is too hot to touch. This occurs around 117 degrees.

Thermochromic ink helps artists and designers to embrace personalization in their products. Since color has a significant impact on mood and communication, many designers are using this color morphing technology to create visually mesmerizing product. A famous example of color changing ink is the design on a Coors Light can – which famously depicts the Rocky Mountains. At room temperature, the mountains on the can are white, but when the beer is at the “perfect drinking temperature” (about 45 degrees) the mountains turn blue.

Color changing inks are fascinating, not only to artists, but also those in chemistry, environmental studies, and psychology. Scientists have been working on using these inks to determine changes in humidity, pollution, and the presence of counterfeit money.

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