02 Mar 2015 Making of: A wired book

Today we proudly present the full backstory of creating one of the 12 ADCN yearbook covers. In case you have no clue what we are talking about right now, we highly recommend you check out the finished project over here.

Let’s just say we had a very ambitious idea that would involve several people. With a very tight deadline at hand we embarked on an exciting journey.

Our plan to create a book that can change it’s cover – based on it being used or not – involved several technical aspects to come together. We opted for the use of thermal ink in the cover to enable the two different states. Our idea to print a black thermal ink layer on top of the illustration layer turned out to be more tricky to realise than anticipated. Ideally both layers are offset printed which for only four pages is pretty ridiculous to do. Digital printing the colored illustration layer and then offset printing the thermal ink on top turned out to be a risky but possible option. Since each printing technique has it’s own surface tension the thermal ink is less likely to ‘stick’ to the first layer.*


Faced with little alternatives we embraced the risk and focused on figuring out the other technical aspects.

We got our friend Taco Ekkel at Q42 just as excited about the project as we were. (At this point we can honestly admit that it was our plan all along to lure him into collaborating on this project, but don’t tell him) Deep down we knew that we wouldn’t stand a chance in realising this book cover without his technical expertise. Shortly after we embarked on a series of experiments.

How to create a build-in heating to activate the thermal ink without setting the whole book on fire? And how do you test if something works while trying to keep five meters of wires from touching each other. After trying different settings we figured out how long the copper wires had to be distributed on each cover page in order to be heated evenly. As a base material of each cover we ordered acrylic sheets to embed the full length of copper wires into 0,5 mm wide milled lines.

Project statistics


Fixating the wires into the engraved lines has been by far the most tedious work we have done. In case you are ever thinking about a similar construction – don’t forget to add small dents on the edge of the engraved lines which can hold the wires in position. Otherwise you will regret not having them just as much as we did!

In the end it was a stressful but rewarding experience to see the book cover coming together from idea to finished project. Wanna see how it works? Check out our movie right here.


*Although the book looked great at the Vernissage it’s now slowly deteriorating. For any future endeavours with thermal ink we hope to avoid mixing two different printing techniques. After a while the thermal ink starts peeling off – yeah we know, beware of the surface tension.

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