‘Theatre in the hand’ now plays on cans

CTI’s photochromic inks prove their mettle on metal

By Heidi Parsons

- Last updated on GMT

The can on the left shows what the design looks like under indoor lighting; the can on the right shows how the photochromic inks respond to sunlight.
The can on the left shows what the design looks like under indoor lighting; the can on the right shows how the photochromic inks respond to sunlight.

Related tags Printing

Having solved the puzzle of how to apply specialty ink to metal successfully, Chromatic Technologies Inc (CTI) can now offer its Sunlight Inks to can manufacturers for decorative applications.

After two years in development, the Colorado company introduced Sunlight Inks for paper and plastic label applications in August 2014. However, “metal deco presents the ultimate challenge for specialty inks,”​ CTI’s chief marketing officer, Patrick Edson, told FoodProductionDaily.

“The inks must be applied at low weights at high speeds and survive a curing oven​,” he said. CTI has developed what it calls “High Velocity Technology” to ensure its photochromic inks can be run at same production speeds and durability as conventional can inks, he explained.

The proprietary technology behind Sunlight Inks yields the following features: 1) fast kinetics that turn on rapidly when sunlight hits the ink, 2) repeatability, which enables the ink to turn “on and off,” 3) a broad color spectrum offering, and 4) durability in the sun.

Make your soda ‘pop’

The end result is easier to see than to describe, but the visual effect is much like the thermochromic inks that have been used on coffee mugs. Now you see it, now you don’t – or vice versa.

“We are committed to helping brands win the summer, tailgating and other popular outdoor usage occasions,”​ Edson said. One example, for Independence Day, is a fireworks design (shown above) that appears clear on the can indoors, but turns colorful when exposed to sunlight.

“Sunlight Inks create ‘theater-in-the hand’ for a brand’s audience: a consumer walks outside and, in seconds, the Sunlight Inks transform their product from clear to colorful reminders of their product choice, activity or social media involvement regarding the product they are using or consuming.”

Printing parameters

Sunlight Inks may be applied either by a can manufacturer or by the brand owner or contract manufacturer, per the brand owner’s preference.

“Whoever prints the cans with conventional inks will also print with CTI's photochromic inks,”​ Edson said. “Each photochromic color will require a dedicated print station and can be printed at the same time as the balance of conventional inks.”

So how does using photochromic inks compare to other can decoration methods in terms of cost? “The cost is obviously dependent upon design, as well as volume and the production needs of a can supplier,”​ Edson said.

“However, all of CTI's can innovation technologies strive to satisfy the ‘1% rule.’ That is, if a brand enjoys a 1% improvement in its volume trend, the cost of the photochromic is covered and the brand makes an incremental profit.”

Related topics Processing & Packaging

Related news

Follow us


View more