Ink Invent is a cutting-edge technology startup that was founded in 2018 by a team of passionate artists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. As a privately-owned company, based in the Netherlands, Ink Invent is the developer of RheoLight™ as the Tunable Detection & Determination Technology. The company’s mission is to revolutionize color functionality and creative expression through innovative and immersive solutions. Ink Invent developed and manufactured RheoLight – a new class of effect pigments, creating the next paradigm shift in the color landscape. 

Ink Invent stands as a testament to the seamless fusion of dedicated expertise and innovation, reshaping the future of color functionality and leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

Interview with Jeffrey Stouthamer, MBA, BASc, Director Business Development & Regulatory Affairs at Ink Invent B.V. 

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Jeffrey Stouthamer: As a visionary company, Ink Invent BV is driven by curiosity and on a profound mission to contribute to a more beautiful and safer world. Our RheoLight products offer remarkable visibility and object detection enhancement capabilities, elevating visibility for any color-coated object.

The current focus for commercializing our product portfolio lies within the automotive and mobility industry, increasing safety by enhancing visibility of all traffic participants and empowering cutting-edge ADAS technologies like LiDAR with improved object detection and determination capabilities.

Our product offering is not limited to the mobility industry, we serve any market which can benefit from increased (color) visibility and/or creative dynamic color expressions, including, but not limited to industrial applications, cosmetics, upholstery and stationary product manufacturers.

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

J.S: As an effect pigment manufacturer, Ink Invent’s innovative approach to combining technology with artistic expression has garnered significant attention and recognition within various industries. By fostering a culture of continuous innovation, collaboration, and exploration, we are making a profound impact on the future of the color landscape, the art of designing and creative expression, and the functionality of colors in general.

The 2nd generation RheoLight, launched early 2023, represents an unprecedented leap in pigment technology as the world’s first perfectly round Crystal Glass Pigments in the range of 1-10µm. Engineered to meet the rigorous standards for automotive applications, RheoLight’s 2nd Generation offers unparalleled new design freedom for the automotive and mobility industry and transcends the traditional color landscapes while ushering in a paradigm shift in both the perception and functionality of colors.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

J.S: The RheoLight portfolio consists of Solvent- and Water based dispersion, readily mixable in existing (paint) formulations and suitable for all industrial application processes. 

Furthermore, RheoLight Mono-Concentrates are available for plastic application processes, and we are working on the expansion of our product portfolio for powder coating applications, and stationary inks.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

J.S: We are currently focused on introducing our innovation to the micro-mobility and automotive industry. Additionally, our products are undergoing extensive testing in other industries, such as industrial applications, fashion, and upholstery.

The first e-bikes having our product incorporated in the coating have been launched this summer, and more brands are expected to launch their new models in the upcoming months. 

Providing the industry with our Tunable Detection and Determination Technology fits perfectly with the upcoming trend and developments in autonomous driving. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

J.S: In a world where micro-mobility, more environmental modes of transportation and shared economy principles are top of mind, and where autonomous driving is gaining more attention and traction, safety, as if it was not already the case, is becoming a pressing topic applicable to the entire ecosystem. 

Brands are differentiating themselves with innovative solutions and safety features, and RheoLight is a perfect addition to any safety related value proposition.

Furthermore, ADAS systems such as LiDAR are continuously being further developed and deployed for a variety of applications such as traffic control and monitoring systems. Objects being even more visible when having RheoLight embedded in their coating can contribute to the further effective utilization of such applications beyond the automotive industry.  

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

J.S: We like to believe that we provide the most innovative product marketed to date, but we do recognize that we are just a part of the entire ecosystem, and from a systems-thinking point of view we embrace our role. 

Innovations that capture our attention and that we admire are the vast developments in the automotive industry such as car brands pushing the boundaries of autonomous driving currently already reaching approved SAE level 3, supported by the innovative developments and continuous improvements in ADAS system designs integration of techniques such as radar, sonar, LiDAR, AI assisted Computer Vision, and most recently Thermal IR Cameras using LWIR.   

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?

J.S: For the remainder of 2023 we estimate that RheoLight will be embraced even further by the bicycle industry, and that we see our first use cases in industrial applications. 

For the automotive industry we accept that there is still a long road to be walked before the first brands have completed and concluded their rigorous testing before RheoLight can be implemented in the production processes, but we are confident this will soon be realized. 

Besides promoting RheoLight in all varieties of industries, we will be introducing an open-source Visibility Label for colors. Providing consumers, brands and retailers with the option of a label that quantifies the visibility of for instance a vehicle (such as a bicycle) on the basis of the used color. The visibility label, which will use our in-house developed ‘Angular Independent Point of View’ (AIPOV) Visibility Model, makes it possible to qualify the visibility of any color under specific important conditions, empowering consumers to make well informed (safety) decisions in for instance the purchase of a new bicycle.