Getting Special Effects with Special Inks

There’s no better way to get attention than with special effects. And when printing labels, whether it is for a line of products or security labels, one of the easiest ways to get those special effects is by using ink. Special effects draw attention to one or more aspects of a label, and can be used on several different label types. Some of these specialised inks are covered below.

Thermochromic Ink

Although they may be thought of as novelty inks, thermochromic ink is actually quite useful. This type of ink is affected by temperature. One example is an ink that changes colour when the desired coolness of a beverage is achieved. Thermochromic ink can also be used to prevent burns, changing colour when a liquid has cooled to a safe temperature.

Thermochromic inks are typically not as vibrant as their pigmented counterparts because their pigment is protected inside a capsule, which itself takes up volume. As well, the capsule itself doesn’t contain any colour. This means that printing with thermochromic ink requires a high film weight.

Pearlescent Ink

Pearlescent ink is available in a vast range of effects and colours. This type of ink prints best using a flexographic or screen unit due to the particle size of its pigments. This type of ink contains natural mica flake covered with metallic oxide, usually iron oxide or titanium). The nature of this specialised ink can be seen when rays of light are reflected onto the paint, and then refracted and scattered. The visual qualities of pearls can be seen when light interacts with these multiple surfaces.

Phosphorescent Ink

Otherwise known as ‘glow in the dark’, phosphorescent ink is using in all manner of applications. Phosphorescent ink glows in the dark once it’s been ‘charged’ by holding it up to some sort of light source.

The pigments in this ink are photo-luminescent. They absorb energy from any ambient light source, and can be recharged any number of times. Although the ink itself is transparent, the glow that its photoluminescent pigments emit can last as long as two hours. Phosphorescent ink usually appears to be green or blue in colour, with the green-coloured ink offering a much more intense glow than the blue. The highest quality glow-in-the-dark effect can be obtained when this ink is screen printed or printed using a flexographic process.

Photochromic Ink

UV light is the stimulant for this ink type, which changes from a clear appearance to coloured when hit by the sun’s rays. To be more specific, the effect of photochromic ink is triggered by long-wave UV rays. When an object printed with photochromic ink has been removed from sunlight, its colour will gradually return to its former state. Because this type of special effect ink is transparent, it is generally recommended that printing occur over an opaque white substrate for the maximum effect.

Fluorescent Ink

Fluorescent ink draws attention to anything on which it is printed due to its incredibly bright and vibrant hues. Fluorescent ink can provide a vintage feel, add zest to a design or be used on children’s products. This type of ‘neon’ ink is also available in different formulations where printing on dark colours is required.

Reflective Ink

This type of ink, when exposed to a focused beam of light will reflect a glittering bright image at the light source. Reflective ink contains millions of light-reflective microspheres and is best suited for applications where safety is a concern. Some examples of reflective ink include those found on athletic pants, police jackets and construction worker vests.