Securing Supply Chains with Printable Sensors

Chromatic Technologies, Inc. (CTI) creates printable thermochromic ink to help ensure the safety of pharma products and vaccines. The printable sensors will make it easy to keep track of the products’ condition and authenticity.

ink bottle

With COVID-19 still affecting everyone’s daily life, the world is feeling the consequences of staggering production and unreliable supply chains in every aspect of their lives. But nowhere is it more significant than it is with pharmaceutical and medical products. After the shortage of face masks, ventilators and other medical equipment has been averted, people are focussing on preparing secure and reliable supply chains for the vaccine. Now, Chromatic Technologies, Inc. (CTI) has created an innovative technology to help monitor the product’s condition. With BlindSpotz, the company has created printable sensors that can be easily used on packaging for products like vaccines or insulin.

Ensuring Safety with Thermochromic Ink

Keeping the supply chain for pharmaceutical and medical products stable and secure has always been an especially challenging task: Not only do producers and suppliers need to maintain the cold chain, they also have to prevent tampering and ensure the authentication of the products every step of the way. CTI’s new offering can help address those challenges by detecting temperature changes like freezing, thawing and gradual warming, as well as tampering and even authentication. The BlindSpotz indicators signal a temperature divergence from a certain range with a change of color, showing the product has been jeopardized.

The All-Rounder

The sensors aren’t only an impressive solution to a long standing problem, they are also very viable, as there is no special equipment needed: BlindSpotz indicators can be printed across all print formats, including those that require solvent-based inks, involve printing on metal decoration, and high-speed offsets. A future technology that can be implemented with today’s devices. Abiding to many customers’ requests, the inks are also free of Bisphenol A, F, and S. 

CTI Product Director Barry McCann is very proud of their groundbreaking technology, saying,

“the combinations of ingredients and manufacturing techniques to make something like a BlindSpotz technology work and pass all other requirements make it as much art as chemistry. Most companies probably don’t want to make the investment required to serve a niche market like this.”

Although similar solutions already exist, BlindSpotz is a lower-cost option to competing technologies. Being printed in-line with the usual printed packaging materials, such as labels, wraps and film barriers, delivered through an ink, it can be done for a tenth of the cost of many other devices.

In Development

While the technology is already very versatile, CTI is still working on other applications. Right now, BlindSpotz is available in paste and liquid ink formulations,supporting inline techniques with digital printing, such as coating units with plates and aniloxes, while digital and inkjet versions aren’t generally commercialised yet. Their goal is to extend product varieties to include:

  • freeze, thaw, warming, and high-temperature alerts,
  • freeze and heat tamper alerts,
  • security or authentication alerts,
  • cold chain compliance indicators,
  • and high-pressure pasteurization indicators for food applications.

At this point, color options range from standard signal color, such as green-to-yellow and charcoal-to-red, to invisible-to-fluorescing colors for special authentication inks. Upon customers’ request, CTI will also be able to develop new color schemes. 

In creating groundbreaking print technologies, researchers are looking more and more beyond print machinery and materials – in 2019, an American team created sustainable algae ink while Japanese researchers worked on a way to create inkless color.