Raise tactile images yourself

If you or your organisation has the equipment to produce tactile images yourself, UK education collection can provide the files you need.

There are three steps to reproducing a UK education collection tactile image yourself:

  1. Download the PDF file for the image you require.
  2. Either print the image directly onto the swell paper, or print onto standard paper and then run through a photocopier to print onto the swell paper. 
  3. Run the swell paper through the heat fuser.

Equipment needed

Swell paper

Swell paper is sometimes known as Minolta™ paper or microcapsule paper. Its surface has microcapsules of alcohol embedded in it. These burst when exposed to heat.

This process is amplified when the surface of the paper is blackened with ink or toner containing carbon. Swell paper is available in A4, A3 and B4 sizes.

Example of raised markings on swell paper

Printer or photocopier

You will need a printer or photocopier to get your image onto swell paper.

Not all laser and inkjet printers will print onto swell paper successfully. Contact your swell paper supplier for advice on suitable machines.

It is also possible to draw your image onto swell paper using a marker pen with ink that has a high carbon content.

Heat fuser

A fuser, sometimes called an image enhancer, heats the swell paper so that a black image on the paper’s surface expands to produce a raised image.

Most fusers work by carrying the swell paper past a heat source at a constant speed. The temperature of the heat source is adjustable to allow for variations in the paper’s coating and in the density of ink in the image.

Heat pen

A heat pen is an electric device the size and shape of a normal pen. It plugs into the mains electricity supply. It has a heated tip so you can use the pen to draw a raised design directly onto the surface of a sheet of swell paper. It works much better on some swell paper than others.