Demystifying Fritted Glass

Fritted glass is commonly used in the glass industry, even if the term itself is less well-known. But actually, it’s quite simple. In a nutshell, fritted glass is any glass printed with ink that contains ultra-small particles of ground-up glass – a.k.a. “frit”. 

What is fritt glass?

Fritted glass is commonly used in the glass industry, even if the term itself is less well-known.  But actually, it’s quite simple. In a nutshell, fritted glass is any glass printed with ink that contains ultra-small particles of ground-up glass – a.k.a. “frit”. The printing process results in the inks being fused into the glass itself.

Because the printed design is essentially part of the glass, fritted glass provides long-lasting durability and functional performance, suited for interior design, architectural and industrial applications.

Fritted glass can be produced by screen printing and also by some—but not all – methods of digital printing. Indeed, the glass printed with UV digital glass printers is not fritted glass; but all glass printed with Dip-Tech digital ceramic glass printers are.

That’s because all Dip-Tech digital glass printers work exclusively with our proprietary digital ceramic glass inks. The ceramic part of these ink's, is – you guessed it – ground-up nano-particles of glass (i.e. frit), working in unison with pigments and solvent. As a result, Dip-Tech printed glass offers not just the durability and functional benefits of all fritted glass, as mentioned above, but also provides outstanding design advantages, due to the digital printing process.

How fritted glass is created

While there’s evidence of fritted glass going all the way back to ancient Egypt, technology has evolved and there are now two main ways to create fritted glass these days: Screen printing and digital printing with ceramic ink. Screen printing has been around for decades. Although the printers and inks have certainly improved in quality and productivity over time, the fundamental approach has remained the same.

In contrast, big innovations for fritted glass have come from digital ceramic glass printing – in particular from Dip-Tech, which pioneered the field and continues to lead in innovation. With digital ceramic glass printing, the ink is laid down in the desired pattern on top of the glass, then heat (applied in a tempering or firing furnace) fuses the ink into the glass; and the ink and the glass become one. This makes the printed glass durable against the weather, abrasive substances, wear-and-tear, and the test of time.

It’s worth noting here that the other main digital glass printing technology – UV printing – does not produce fritted glass, as the inks are cured as an ultra-thin layer on top of the glass, rather than fused into the glass.

Digital printing offers several advantages over screen printing for many different fritted glass applications. With no need to make, clean or store screens, minimum machine setup (and cleanup), reduced labor costs, and a simplified production line, digital printing of fritted glass is perfect for the flexibility and customization demands of architects and designers, as well as for short and medium runs of more simple designs.

The digital fritted glass difference

Fritted glass architecture is becoming increasingly popular, and with good reason. As we’ve covered, it’s durable, flexible, and completely accommodating to a wide range of design and functional needs. Frit pattern glass is also extremely effective in terms of energy-savings. In particular, fritted glass facades for buildings (or on a smaller scale, fritted glass windows), can reduce solar heat gain, while maintaining an attractive exterior design. Plus, energy efficiency for fritted glass architecture can be calculated ahead of construction, with the Dip-Energy Printed Glass Performance Calculator.

Frit pattern glass panels can also be created with the exact level of transparency desired, using lines or dots (or any other pattern really). This is especially useful for providing privacy for the people inside, helping control the level of natural light throughout the day, and of course, reducing glare.

For an added environmentally friendly touch, fritted glass windows or a fritted glass façade can be printed with a special digital print pattern that is proven to significantly reduce bird collisions.

Recommended architectural applications for fritted glass

Whether you’re looking to create a fritted glass balustrade, fritted glass windows, or a fritted glass façade, Dip-Tech digital ceramic glass printing can make your project shine. There is no application too small, or too large. No design too subtle, or too bold. Combining functionality with aesthetic appeal, fritted glass can be used to effectively blend the seams between glass panels on a sheer-faced structure, moderate transparency throughout different points on an edifice, or create a strong graphic statement across an entire installation or select building parts.

Whatever your needs, our team of professional architects, designers, and technicians, can help you dream, design, and build, with a guiding hand down to the finest detail of practical implementation. Amazing things can be achieved with Dip-Tech digital fritted glass!