How new inks could revolutionise designs

03. The inkless approach

Let's be honest; printed packaging demands volume in order to be cost effective, which in itself can be a costly feat. So what if we could print in the exact same quality, clarity and colour correctness without ink? It sounds ridiculous. However the concept of 'inkless ink' is now becoming a reality.

Italian design firm Pininfarina have crafted a pen that uses a patented metallic alloy, which causes the part of the paper it comes into contact with to oxidise, leaving an ink-like mark.

Pininfarina

Pininfarina have created an ink-free ink pen

Although I believe the colour options are limited, meaning that is not ready for the commercial mainstream just yet, it is something that we should all be looking to work on as an important piece of technology.

04. Thermochromic inks

Thermochromic ink is not exactly a new concept. Think of brands such as Coca-Cola and Coors Light, who have used this technology on their packaging to let consumers know when their products are at an optimal temperature to drink.

Coke and Coors cans

Coke and Coors have both used thermocromic inks

This is all well and good. However, it seems like this brilliant technology isn't being used to its full potential.

One category where thermochromic inks could be used is within ready meals. With the constant fear of undercooked foods causing severe illnesses – we only have to think back to the latest chicken and campylobacter scandal that hit the UK – a temperature gauge to indicate that food stuffs are fully cooked would increase product safety, and in turn increase consumer's trust in brands.

Words: Gillian Garside-Wight

Gillian Garside-Wight has several years experience within the print and packaging industry. She has grown the Pack Science business brand within Sun Branding Solutions, offering global packaging development consultancy to companies including Burtons, Arco, Iceland, B&Q, Unilever and Tesco.

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