Thermochromic Ink

Thermochromic inks change from the colourless to colourful or vice versa with the changes in temperature. These inks make use of thermochromism, which refers to “materials that change their hues in response to temperature fluctuations”. These inks are also know as leucodyes, which are organic (carbon-based) chemicals that change in molecular structure due to heat energy. The varied interactions with light result in different colours seen by the eye.

Materials required:

  • Thermochromic pigments
  • Clear base (like resin, glue, polymorph, etc)
  • Silkscreen
  • Light coloured fabric
Thermochromic pigment


  • Mix the pigment in paint, resin, glue, Polymorph, etc to create the ink
  • Spread the ink unto a silkscreen
  • Apply unto a light coloured fabric
  • Allow to air-dry
  • The print turns colourless when exposed to temperature around 22 degree celsius
  • However, if over heated to above 200 degree celsius, irreversible damage to the dye might occur
  • Also, note that mixing the pigment in non-clear bases might  not produce the same results
Preparation of materials
Resulting prints

Applications include:

  • Products naturally exposed to the human heat, creating interaction in the mundane.
  • An example is the masks designed by Marjan Kooroshnia, a Swedish textile-design student
Thermochromic masks
Thermochromic thermometer, furniture, baby bottle and mood ring found on the Internet

Personal reflection:

Chemistry really plays a big role in this application! New technologies and inventions bring about a wave of uses  and solutions to problems.

It also takes some experimentation in the application of these pigments and dyes. When the light yellow thermochromic dye was mixed with blue acrylic paint, the resulting print could not change in colour.

Touch and Print Field Trip Reflection

The trip to Touch and Print as well as the National Design Centre was highly intriguing and engaging. We were personally introduced to how transfer printing is done!

Through the presentation, we learnt about the differences between two types of surface printing:

Screen Printing Transfer Printing
Long set-up time Fast, digitally printed
Every colour matters (multiple stencils) Full-colour
Minimum quantity required No minimum quantity
Repeat prints are cheap and fast Consistent repeat prints, accurate

We were also lectured on laser transfer printing and witnessed first hand the demonstration on two T-shirts, one on a white piece and the second on a blue piece. They required different transfer papers by TheMagicTouch and the processes varied accordingly.

Laser Transfer Printing

Steps for the white shirt transfer included:

  • laser printing the design onto the paper
  • cutting out the design close to the borders
  • placing the design faced down on the shirt
  • applying the heat-press
  • quickly removing the transfer paper from the shirt
  • laying a baking paper over the transferred design and applying the heat-press once again

Other applications of transfer printing also include the incorporation of circuit boards unto fabric as well as deriving a circuit by etching away a metal surface.

Uses of Transfer Printing


Moodboard: Veins

Moodboard (Veins of leaves, arms and marble)

Keywords linked to veins:

  • Networks and connections
  • Fluidity
  • Translucency
  • Unpredictability (smooth and tortuous)
  • Protrusions

Techniques and materials to explore:

Water soluble stabiliser, sheer fabric,  nuno felting…anything organic.

Images were sourced from Pinterest.