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LCR Hallcrest’s Photochromic Ink Science/Art Kit:Users Guide
Photochromic (PC) describes a chemical that changes from colorless to colored in response to ultraviolet light. Sources of UV light include sunlight and black lights. The LCR Hallcrest Photochromic Ink Science/Art Kit contains three photochromic ink slurry colors. Each PC ink slurry is a thick mixture of microcapsules mixed with water. PC microcapsules are small spheres of material consisting of an inner and outer phase. The internal phase is a water soluble material and PC dye molecules (responsible for photochromic properties). The external phase is a material that forms a protective wall around inner phase. This wall is much like the wall encapsulating the air of a soap bubble only stronger. The size of the PC dye microcapsules are typically between 1 to 10 microns.
Note that the Science/Art Kit includes a binder, which when added to the ink slurries increases their adhesive properties (ability to stick to surfaces). A 1:1 ratio by weight is suggested, thus 50 grams of binder is provided for each 50 grams of ink slurry.
Things to Know About Using PC Ink
1. Mix each ink slurry and binder in a 1:1 mass ratio.
2. The PC Inks are soluble in water, thus mix with water to thin. The thinner the ink the more transparent it is. The thicker the ink the more opaque.
3. Clean-Up Use water to clean the PC inks from brushes, stamps and other tools. Also clean the PC inks from hands and clothing with water. Important: Clean materials before the ink dries.
4. Dry the ink with a hair dryer or allow the ink to air dry. Once dry, the ink does not rub off.
5. Acrylic art paints: These paints are not part of this kit, but can be added to the PC inks to produce a mixture that is one color indoors and a different color outdoor in sunlight. Acrylic paint is also water soluble.
6. The PC inks and acrylic paint are not toxic, but should not be eaten. Use these colorants on the outside of any food container.
Science Projects Using PC Ink
Following are a few ideas for science projects. For more more details as well as more ideas, see Photochromic Inks Science Projects.
Science Project Ideas1. What effect does the ratio of the binder to the PC Ink Slurry have on the adhesive property of the mixture? 2. What effect does the type of surface have on the durability of PC ink?
Add some rigor
3. What effect does the ambient temperature have on the back-isomerization rate of the PC molecules? See the FAQ What Does Isomerization mean?
Art Projects using PC Ink
1. The three colors of ink slurry in this kit are called “Painter’s Primary Colors.” This is because the three colors cannot be produced by mixing other colorants. But, the three colors can be combined to make the different colors shown on the color wheel. While many colors can be produced, red, blue, and yellow cannot produce all colors.
Place a piece of cardboard inside a T- shirt (white cotton works well) so that the material is stretched smooth.
Use a pencil to draw a design on the shirt, then use a black permanent marker to trace over the pencil lines.
PC inks can be mixed with any acrylic paint to produce a colorant that is the color of the acrylic paint indoor and the color of the mixture outdoors in sunlight.
Discover for Yourself
Using the color wheel, experiment with mixing PC paints with each other as well as mixing them with different colors of acrylic paints.
The value of a color is how light or dark it is. You can change the value by adding white acrylic to lighten colors and black acrylic to darken colors.
The colored bird shows how the PC ink and different PC + acrylic paint mixtures look when exposed to sunlight.
Canvas Bag Graphics
Plastics and Glass
The PC inks will adhere to plastic and glass. But, as with any colorant, the PC inks are more adherent to some surfaces than others. I did paint a smooth glass bowl with the paints and the the design remain on the glass for some time. The best idea is to use containers that do not have to be washed often.
While PC ink and acrylic paints are not toxic, they are not intended to be eaten. So, paint on the outside of containers that will contain food.