Help me be the best secret santa ever
November 12, 2012 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Where can I (or can I?) order *one* heat changing coffee mug that displays one custom message when cold and another, slightly different custom message when filled with hot liquid? Google returns only "blank revealing custom image" mugs. Is this even possible? Maybe you can't put regular ink under changing ink? Screenprinting scientists: give me the scoop before I wear my googling fingers to the bone.
posted by lilnublet to Shopping (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried CafePress?
posted by Yellow at 11:56 AM on November 12, 2012

Response by poster: yes, assume that I have investigated cafepress, zazzle, snapfish, etc -

Lemme clarify the question: "why are there only blank mug to revealed message/picture when hot" mugs? Is it possible to make a "Message one revealing message 2 when hot" mugs?

(I know I have seen this. I'm *pretty* sure my dad had a mug with a clothed/naked lady on it when I was younger.)
posted by lilnublet at 12:10 PM on November 12, 2012

They do seem to exist; see this one for example, which has one image when cold and a (slightly) different image when hot.

But unfortunately, I don't know where you can order a custom one.
posted by cider at 12:20 PM on November 12, 2012

This is a UK store, but it claims: "The WoWMug® may also be screen over-printed with a permanently visible message to convey the brand or advertising message when the mug is cold." Not sure if that message also disappears when the mug gets hot...
posted by cider at 12:24 PM on November 12, 2012

I have a Doctor Who mug with a disappearing TARDIS on one side and an appearing TARDIS on the other (both over background images), so it is possible. I would guess the blank-to-image ones are just cheaper, though I don't know where to single-order either. How much do you want to spend on this? I recall pretty high setup charges (~$100), though I haven't looked into it during the past couple years.
posted by teremala at 12:30 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here is a kit to do it yourself and here are some detailed instructions. This company will do it but their minimum order is 1000.
posted by euphorb at 12:31 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

This company makes them, but as promotional items, so bulk orders. But it might be worth asking them if they might do a one-off for you.
posted by essexjan at 12:32 PM on November 12, 2012

I don't know a specific vendor, but if you find a place that does bulk orders, it's worth calling or emailing to find out how much it would cost to do one. It's certainly going to be much higher than their per-unit cost for a bulk order, but it might be within your price range.
posted by radioamy at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2012

I don't know how ethical this is: But if you find a company that will do it in bulk, ask for them to give you a sample or proof product. Then you will get ONE.
posted by ethidda at 1:18 PM on November 12, 2012

if you find a company that will do it in bulk, ask for them to give you a sample or proof product

This almost certainly will not work; the sample would likely be an extra that they've already done and the proof would be of the artwork/concept not the actual product.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:11 PM on November 12, 2012

All of the kits or customized mugs seem to feature the type of paint that disappears when the hot fluid is added.

You've probably figured this out, but you can make the type of messages you're interested in (one that appears when it is cold and another that appears when hot) using this method:

- Make message #1 using negative space in the disappearing ink.

- Make message #2 using non-disappearing ink underneath the disappearing ink (for added invisibility, make the visible & invisible inks the same shade)

- Put message #1 and message #2 on different areas of the mug--say message #1 on the top half, message #2 on the bottom. There might be more tricky ways you could do it depending on what the two messages are and how similar or dissimilar they are.

For instance your mug starts out as all-black except for a message in white letters (negative space in the disappearing ink color which reveals the underlying white color of the mug to create the lettering) on the top half of the mug.

When you add hot liquid the black paint (and message #1) disappears and message #2 appears on the bottom half of the mug.

You could do this with the kit euphorb mentions (though I can't figure out if that kit is really available in their current catalog or not). This company also has thermochromic inks, but I don't know if they would sell a small amount to individuals.

But the main point is, if you can find an outfit like CafePress or Zazzle, where you can print two layers, one normal and one thermochromic, both according to your custom design, then you can do this. Looking at Zazzle, you can control the 'normal paint' underlayer but the thermochromic overlayer can't be customized. At CafePress I can't figure out their thermochromic process, though they seem to have one as there are products available.

FWIW asking for a sample from a bulk company is almost certainly not to work because they will send you a sample from a previous run--they certainly are not going to make a sample of your product without a down payment or something.
posted by flug at 2:16 PM on November 12, 2012

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