Screen Printing with Thermal Inks

Hello! I am Emily E. Ritter, one of the member of SANDS as well as a current MFA student in printmaking at the ASU Herberger School of Art. My research is to explore thermal, conductive, and solar screen printing inks. I will be explaining the print I made with thermal ink.

Screen printing is a printmaking process in which a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a surface, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. This stencil can be cut vinyl or contact paper, drawing fluid and screen filler, or photosensitive emulsion (the most common type). A squeegee is then moved across the screen to fill the open mesh with ink, while pressure is applied so that the ink can be transferred to the material that is being printed on. This is a basic explanation of the process.

I have created an ink that reacts to heat by either changing to clear or another color. This thermal ink was created by adding SolarDust’s thermochromatic dust to a screen printing transparent base. Thermal screen printing ink allows for the creation of many different interactive works of art that are responsive to heat. This thermal ink can also be utilized as a basic outdoor temperature monitor. An example would be a sticker that changes from a cool color to a warmer color when a metal handle or a public slide becomes hot.

I am interested in the interactive quality of this ink and creating works of art that engage the viewer. I have produced a piece that will create a conversation about how humans affect the environment. More specifically, how our synthesized plastics affect the environment. The top layer of the print is a flat of the thermal ink, which the viewer is invited to touch to see the affects of human activity and question their involvement in the issue. When the thermal ink comes into contact with body heat from the viewer, it goes clear revealing the images underneath. The image revealed in my piece is of a marine habitat that is affected by the presence of plastic. In addition to the body heat from the viewer, muscle wire connected to electronics heat up periodically creating lines that hint to the image that is hidden. My hope is that this will create a conversation about the implications of human consumption and waste. I also look forward to experimenting more with these interactive inks.

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