Color changing materials, mistakes to avoid to save time!

Sensitive, reactive, these so-called intelligent materials change and change color under the influence of heat, light or mechanical stimulation (stretching, impact).

Illustration of a photochrom coating developed by the OliKrom team

With the birth of SmartKrom® color-change materials, thermochromic (temperature-active), photochromic and photoluminescent (light-activated), piezochromic (pressure active), chemiochromic (active in the presence of a solvent or a gas), the first mistake is to consider that these pigments are classic additives to add to a paint, an ink, … The first consequence is often the degradation of the Chameleon property.

Behind this SmartKrom® color change property, these materials involve a physical phase transition process related to a structural modification of isomerization, cyclization (or ring opening), electron transfer, protons, hydrogen atoms and / or spin state, …

This is not magic!

The first challenge: choosing the right family

photoluminescent inks

An OliKrom synthesis, mastered step by step

Today there are several commercialized technologies. Some have been known for several decades. However, it is important to think carefully before choosing a generation of intelligent materials.

Some processes are extremely fragile and have a very limited exposure to ultraviolet exposure, which greatly reduces the use of these materials in outdoor conditions.

Others contain restricted substances, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and / or toxic metals, which will severely limit the end use.

The second challenge: mastering the color change in the state of the finished product

thermochromic color changing inks heat sensitive

Mastering the SmartKrom property at every stage of preparation

These intelligent materials are extremely sensitive to their environment and too many industrial developments are today halted by a lack of knowledge of the thermodynamic processes involved during the color change. The grinding and formulation steps modify the physico-chemical environment of the pigments. It is therefore essential to control the SmartKrom® property at each stage, until the finished product. For this, it is necessary to use absorption and fluorescence spectrometers, diffuse reflectivity devices to track the color change as a function of temperature, …

The third challenge: to properly program the color change

The existence of several physical processes involved in the color change allows, if they are well controlled, to adapt to industrial demands. It is a real programming of the pigment so that the color change intervenes reversibly or irreversibly, at a defined disturbance threshold. It is also necessary to take into account the fatigability of the intelligent material in its final use, namely, the duration of the phenomenon of color change (number of cycles), speed of the phenomenon (round-trip), …

The fourth challenge: hoping for a finished product “off the shelf”

The OliKrom team is often asked, in order to save time, to order a finished product “off the shelf” to satisfy an industrial need. The reality is different !

Each specification has its particularities with regard to, for example, the desired SmartKrom® property, the requirements for formatting during the industrial process, the desired durability or the regulatory aspects … Each of these elements is essential to synthesize the right pigment and formulate the optimal intelligent solution (paint, ink, …). The consequence of poor selection is the rapid degradation of Chameleon color change properties, photoluminescence, …

The OliKrom contribution: the control of the production of the pigment in the formulation ink, paint, …

OliKrom LumiKrom® Photoluminescent Coating

To meet industrial specifications, the OliKrom team has gained international recognition in the field of SmartKrom® and color intelligence for industrial safety.

The know-how of its doctors and chemical engineers, in organic, hybrid and inorganic chemistry allows to synthesize, according to the desired criteria, the optimal pigment, and to master all the stages of formulation. At each step, the smart property sought is controlled.

Each industrial development is made “to measure”, there is no “off the shelf” solution. On the other hand, the experience acquired by the OliKrom team in the field of SmartKrom® makes it possible to take into account the global dimension of the project by integrating all the facets, from the desired property to the industrial and regulatory aspects … The technical and economic dimensions and confidentiality are also at the heart of our approach.

To guarantee the quality of its products and ensure complete satisfaction for our industrial partners, OliKrom distributes only intelligent coatings, in the form of ink, paint, masterbatch.


Do not hesitate to entrust us with your project!


The experts of OliKrom are at your service …