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Lead Image

Sur-tec Brochure with Heat Sensitive Ink


Production Method




REACTOR design studio

Clifton Alexander, creative chuck norris
Chase Wilson, activator
Grant Gooding, consultant



Brochure: AC Printing, Olathe, KS
Heat sensitive ink: H&H Graphics, Chicago

Thermochromatic ink mimics the functionality of an app designed for covert surveillance in this high-tech, complex print job designed and executed for an equally high-tech, sophisticated client. (Video of the ink in action at the bottom of the post). 



Sur-tec APParition

Quantity Produced


Production Cost

Production Time

3 weeks

Dimensions (Width × Height × Depth)

8.25 × 5 in

Page Count

Paper Stock

Carolina / 18PT / C2S Cover

Number of Colors

5/4 (5th color is black to clear thermographic ink)


Overall Gloss Varnish





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Project Description

This brochure and specifically the heat-sensitive ink, is designed to mimic the experience of using the mobile app that Sur-tec has developed. Designing a brochure that looks like a cell-phone is nothing new, but the app itself runs on a mobile device completely undetected and is used for undercover officers in place of a body wire. It streams hi-def audio and geo-positioning back to the support teams. We wanted a high impact way to show that the "phone" will look and act as a normal phone if the officer is searched. The black opaque ink covers up the fact that there is an audio-recording app running on the phone. Only when you apply heat to the ink, does it reveal the home screen of the app on the brochure. In a similar way, the app runs undetected and can only be accessed if you know it's there.

Production Lesson(s)

This was a learning process for all of us involved! We hadn't worked with thermochromatic ink before and were under a tight deadline working with two different printers in two states.

The thermo ink is VERY sensitive to ambient temperature. It looks best and most opaque when it's in a colder room and the color change is more dramatic as well. We had no idea what the room would be like at the trade show where these brochures were handed out so we advised our client to bring a cooler or some similar storage container for the brochures. That way they could have maximum impact when handing them to potential clients.

We also found out that the opaqueness of the ink was much better with two hits. Although it's difficult to tell when printing because in a warm print shop the ink will be mostly clear when printing. H&H Graphics was definitely up for the challenge and advised us along the way!

The brochure printing was done by our local printer in Kansas City using conventional methods. We then shipped the brochures to Chicago to have the thermo ink silk-screened in place. The sheets were shipped back to KC for finishing.

We also had to test the exact paper and specific varnish being used on the brochure with the thermo ink to make sure it would stick.”

Post Author

Author Picture

Duncan Robertson

Former intern at UnderConsideration LLC.

More: Online / On Twitter


Date Published

February 27, 2013


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