Magazine Printing Guide: A Great Way to Stand-out on the Shelf. Use Thermochromic Inks & Varnishes

by Rich B

Publishers and marketers* are always looking for great ways to make their products stand out on the shelf, desk or coffee table (or wherever else they’re put). Well, the creative use of thermochromic inks and varnishes is an interesting technology which can really help you attract attention. And if used cleverly, can also increase your magazine’s ‘stickability’ and the numbers of eyeballs that will see it through repeated use.

So, let’s take a look at what themochromism is and how you can use it in your printed magazine.

What is Thermochromic?
Thermochromic means it changes colour when the temperature changes. In the case of inks and varnishes, they can change colour (or change from opaque to transparent) when the temperature goes up or down or when exposed to UV light. The point at which the transformation happens can be predefined, meaning the cunning marketer can do some pretty interesting things which will benefit or entertain their customers and ultimately increase usefulness and sales.

thermochromic varnish

On the left, the original. On the right, a little heat and the change is taking place from opaque to transparent, revealing underprinting beneath..

How can it help me?
It’s really the creative application of thermochromic that can strike a chord with your audience. As always, you need a thorough understanding of the likes and drivers of your target customer, then tailor the use of the thermochromic inks/varnishes to them. But here are some of the applications we’ve identified which should get your grey-matter working:

Touch Reactive
This is where there’s a panel of thermochromic on your magazine (could be the whole page!) and the customer has to touch it to make it change colour and/or reveal what’s underneath. This is really fun to do and encourages interaction with the print. Underneath could be a voucher or secret/hidden picture and having to interact with the page means customers will often actively share it with other readers.

Heat/Chill Reactive
Great for packaging where a product has to be stored or consumed at a particular temperature. They also have uses on printed magazines; both practical (for example changing colour when in an acceptable office temperature) or fun (eg. displaying a picture when pressed against a hot coffee cup).

UV Reactive
Again, has both fun and practical applications. This ink/varnish can react in UV light and can react according to the strength of that light. So for example, it can be used to show when the strength of UV light is too high and sunblock should be used. For magazine printing, there can be a panel on the magazine which changes when the magazine is taken out of the shop and exposed to UV light – so the customer buys the magazine and when they take it out of the shop, the image on the front cover changes.

Thermochromic inks and varnishes can be relatively cheap ways of attracting attention on the page and it’s really up to the creative marketer to come up with a solution that’s attractive or useful to your target customer.

Our print consultants have heaps of experience in helping marketers and publishers get the most from their print. If you’d like to speak to one of them about thermochromic inks and varnishes could work for you – or to discuss anything else magazine printing related – simply fill out the form or call us on 01869 366931.

*We’ll use the term ‘marketers’ in this article as we’re all after attracting eyeballs towards our magazine.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Louisa Keyworth April 10, 2013 at 9:23 am

Hi, we are producers of mapping and are looking at the printing of CMYK maps using thermochromic ink to reveal detail beneath a basic map. I am looking at A1 size – is this something you could accommodate? I would be interested in costs for 1000 and 5000 units.Please let me know if you need any more information.
Many thanks

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Rich B April 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Hi Louisa, it sure is! We’ll be in touch shortly to discuss :)

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Refilled Cartridges November 5, 2016 at 5:20 am

This is really fun to do and encourages interaction with the print. Underneath could be a voucher or secret/hidden picture and having to interact with the page means customers will often actively share it with other readers.

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