Subtle Security: What You Need to Know About Invisible Ink Printing

When you think of invisible ink, you may picture hidden treasure maps or remember childhood codes written with lemon juice. But you’ve probably encountered invisible ink in a number of professional and commercial settings without knowing it.

The invisible ink used for official printing is more high-tech than what you may think of in popular culture or games of pretend. In fact, invisible ink represents one of the most important security precautions that business owners can take.

In this blog, we give you a summary of this printing technique and how it might help you better secure your products.

What Does Professional Invisible Ink Consist Of?

Professional invisible ink has a complex recipe that ensures that the designs remain unseen, crisp, and readable.

Most of professional inks are fluorescent, meaning that appear invisible in normal light but appear to glow under UV or black light. To create this kind of image, professionals use a simple sugar, binding agent, and fluorescent molecule, such as heterorotaxane.

Each expert printing company has its own recipe, ensuring that designs printed by that organization look and perform differently from those printed by competitors. The process usually involves application of multiple inks with different properties to create a single image.

How Do You Reveal the Presence of Invisible Printed Material?

To reveal an invisible ink image, you have to know what the ink interacts with. For example, fluorescent inks glow under black light, but thermochromic inks require a temperature change before they become visible.

Some invisible ink types can appear when run through certain smartphone apps. However, most invisible inks remain undetectable unless you have the equipment necessary to read them.

What Might You Print in Invisible Ink?

So how might you use invisible ink on your products, pamphlets, or printed inserts? Almost anything you can print in visible ink, you can reproduce in invisible ink.

Common invisible ink elements include:

  • Anti-counterfeit marks
  • Barcodes
  • Brand symbols
  • Serialization
  • QR codes

Your professional printing partner such as Rxperts Group, a Flottman Company can help you design any of the above elements in invisible ink according to your security concerns and needs.

How Does Invisible Ink Printing Improve Security?

Invisible ink printing’s primary purpose is to prevent product counterfeiting. This characteristic makes invisible ink an essential security measure in luxury markets, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and other industries where counterfeiting regularly causes loss.

Because each product can have a unique invisible ink element, printed in an ink with a set, specific recipe, these marks are virtually impossible to replicate.

You can also use invisible ink for checking the authenticity of tickets, coupons, and other printed materials. For example, black IR ink, one common form of invisible ink, interacts with the lights of copy machines. When you print with black IR over a unique mark, such as a coupon barcode, the invisible ink reaction to copiers makes it impossible for someone to copy and reuse the coupon.

In pharmaceutical usage, invisible inks are printed to match the miniature folded insert, with the packaging and the product. Invisible ink printing of sequential numbers on each component helps with inventory, tracking, and anti-counterfeiting.


If you think that invisible ink printing could aid in loss prevention for your business, discuss your options with the invisible ink experts at Rxperts Group and Flottman Company.